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Alehouse, Reading

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user reviews of the Alehouse, Reading

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Old fashioned town centre pub close to station and with a range of real ales. Quite a scruffy place though - and the loos are disgusting!
Trev - 7 Apr 2017 20:14
Friendly pub, superb choice of real ales, a must for any real ale fans
hollybush33 - 28 Jan 2017 14:15
Not sure why I've never reported on this one before!

I popped in for a couple on Saturday evening, a Chocolate Orange Porter followed by a West Berkshire Stout, both were lovely but the stout just about won!

A variety of beers on and so nice to be out of the "golden beer" time of year!

Also, several real ciders on too!

As a previous poster says, the problem with this pub is that it stops you from trying others in the town.

Keep up the good work!
Ade.The.Raider - 23 Nov 2016 21:42
No visit to Reading is complete without a visit to the Alehouse. It certainly makes my top 20 pubs in the country. It was busy as usual on our early Tuesday evening visit. But despite its compact size and central location, I've never really found it crowded. 3 ales from West Berkshire - Dr Hexter's Healer, Swift Pale & Good Old Boy are supplemented by guests - Hackney Waimea, Siren Bre Broken Dream, Binghams Thirst Past The Post, Offbeat Outlandish Pale & Great Heck Washington Red. There were also 5 ciders and perries - Lilleys Wild Dog & Crazy Goat, Gwynt y Ddraig Two Trees Perry & Fiery Fox & Sandford Orchards Pear Shaped. They also still do mead from Lyme Bay - an excellent drink to finish on. This pub oozes character and has plenty of local characters too. Almost a 10/10. But I tend to save such scores for only 3 or 4 pubs. The only downside for me is that the Alehouse hinders me from seeking out new pubs in the town!
blue_scrumpy - 23 Sep 2015 21:41
Was in here in 2010 when it was the Hobgoblin.

Exactly the same with a new name.

West Berkshire Mr Chibbs Lunchtime Bitter was very, very good.

Mappiman - 17 May 2015 14:05
Cracking town centre throwback. It's the size of a postage stamp so it gets busy, particularly on Reading FC and London Irish match days, but the service is pretty good, as is the beer, three of which come from West Berkshire Brewery, with the other handpumps reserved for guests.
plymouthpirate - 25 May 2014 16:37
As noted by others - should now be filed under "The Alehouse". A splendid small pub with nooks and crannies for a good chat, bare boards, occasional beer festivals and a generally interesting range of ale (ca 6 at a time) with good cider also available. The pub comes as a surprise, presumable a relic of the old town centre, now largely obscured by modern shopping development. Maybe because I normally go in briefly in mid-week, the "Alehouse" is not always crowded but it does not take many folk to make it so. Together with the Nag's Head, makes central Reading a high class place for a drink, and the Zerodegrees is there for teh non-traditionalist.
Arctium_lappa - 24 Feb 2013 20:00
michmet - 12 Dec 2012 18:39
The Alehouse is a great little pub on Reading's main street. I'm always amazed by how untouched it is considering its location. The main bar area is small, cramped and atmospheric with bare boards. Beyond this, there are 3 small and secluded rooms. It's always busy and rightfully so. The beer and cider range is excellent and I presume turns over quickly, as the quality is good. The bar staff are friendly and knowledgeable. Beers on during our visit were Cottage Sunbeam Tiger, Art Brew Hip Hop Dr Rudi's Super Alpha, Two Cocks Puritan Stout, West Berkshire Dr Hexter's Wedding Ale & Aylesbury Duck Ale. Ciders were Springfield Red Dragon, Polgoon Cider, Tutts Clump Traditional Farmhouse Cider & Perry & Barbourne Dovedale Perry. They were also serving a mead from Dorset, either cold or mulled. A must visit when in Reading.
blue_scrumpy - 19 Nov 2012 22:12
Brilliant pub now called The Ale House. 8 ales on including three from west Berkshire brewery, all good. Ciders too.
Spodgey - 14 Nov 2012 17:09
It's a bit of a love it or hate it place. Much brighter since the refurb and name change, with the wood panelling in the corridor and back alcove booths cleaned and sanded. Beer (and cider) take pride of place with three West Berks beers and five others, all guests. Good to see oversized glasses used. A bit basic for some, but the new name tells you all you need to know. For non-locals, expect the bar staff to be randomly anything from helpful and pleasant to disdainful and surly.
Beermole - 1 Nov 2012 15:04
"one of the Top 10 pubs in Britain" - not sure about that but it's certainly in the top 20.
Dan137 - 7 Oct 2012 09:45
I agree that the change of name is part of an overall improvement in the place. Was in there yesterday, Butts in surperb condition and the whole place just seems "better" somehow. Some may complain about the prices, but this is still a great boozer.
Dan137 - 7 Oct 2012 09:44
Whilst I don't usually favour pub name changes, in this instance I consider it to be doing it more justice, for 'Hobgoblin' to my mind suggests a rather branded, Marston's-owned pub which perhaps isn't all it could be. The simply-but accurately-titled 'Ale House' implies a far broader church beer-wise, and one that is not laden with branded gimmickry filtered through an increasingly large and corporate brewing/pub-owning concern.

The licensee here has done a fabulous job in my opinion; she clearly commands a good awareness of what's brewing locally and beyond, and shows a good knowledge of cellaring. A good 6 cask ales were on offer when we (9 of us) pitched up for what turned out to be a splendidly-sunny afternoon's session, sat outside on the 2 tables. Between us nearly every beer was sampled and universally praised - if that's the standard here now then they can't go wrong with ale connoisseurs. The West Berkshire Magg's Mild and Exeter Darkness were especial favourites.

Cider and perry were not ignored either - I think a about 3 of the former and 2 of the latter featured and were found in equally-drinkable condition. Even mead was offered by the glass, which at 14% was an impressive way to crown what had already been a pretty high-strength and indulgent session. Our bachanalian banter-fest was only interrupted occasionally by the need to return to the bar, which always provided sound service and minimised intrusions into the old VDT.

Food is virtually non-existent beyond basic bar snacks, which may inconvenience some, but frankly, in a world where food is increasingly dominant as it is seen as a necessity for keeping pubs alive, it was refreshing not to be waylaid by it. Certainly the turnaround on bar transactions is rendered so much speedier by its exclusion.

The interior of the pub is rambling, with lots of lively wood-panelled alcoves in which one can enjoy a certain intimacy if required. The decor is traditional yet quite minimal, with a Bohemian sort of touch. I must say I really approved of this and I know my co-boozers did too. One describes this rather boldly as "one of the Top 10 pubs in Britain". I dismissed this as one hell of an overstatement initially, but on reflection, given the experience we all shared, perhaps my mate's not far off the mark?

I think this is so much better than it is Hobgoblin heyday; if you haven't been here since those days then for goodness' sake make a date to do so soon. If you love simplicity, and a hardcore focus on superb beer, you will not regret the effort.
TWG - 24 Sep 2012 09:56
I've been drinking here for twelve years and it's still my favourite pub in Reading. When I started it has served around 2,300 different real ales and now it's up to well over 6,500. You might find the decor a little basic, you might have your nose put out of joint because you can't get crap lager or even Guinness or anything more than a packet of crisps to eat, but if you're here for the beer you will never be disappointed. The staff are lovely too, they just have little tolerance for tossers which is just as it should be.
Summerisle1961 - 9 Sep 2012 08:55
Staff seem a bit more cheerful these days - perhaps it's the refurb and name change ?! :-) Good beers on usually, a fine place.
Upton_Parker - 24 Aug 2012 17:09
yippee......going to have a couple after 10 months name be buggered, still the hob to me..........................
michmet - 19 May 2012 16:56
A new name but still the miserable jobs worth level bar-staff. You can't polish a turd...
Waitrose_Ernie - 11 May 2012 16:16
Excellent scruffy REAL pub . Good selection of well kept real ales, and ciders for them who likes that sort of thing.
Gruff, unsmiling service (but efficient) - probably preferable to oily and obsequious:-)
Nowt wrong with toilets these days.
8/10 long may it continue.
Upton_Parker - 4 May 2012 15:28
Slightly unnerving experience on a return to the home-town - the refurbishment is a bit like seeing your grungy heavy-metal loving kid brother suddenly have a wash and a shave and put on a suit and tie for a job interview.
Still excellent choice of ales, dispensed by a throughly unsmiling and largely uncommunicative barkeep who looked as if he wanted to be anywhere but behind a bar and seemed to find it a wearisome and irritating problem to answer a simple question from the punter in front of us about the cider/perry pump.
Try smiling and interacting with people in a friendly manner, old son - it doesn't cost anything and might even make you more money over the bar when people remember your winsome smiling face.
Gristy - 3 May 2012 12:13
Now the Alehouse still the same. Excellent selection of real beers and cider cosy rooms out back a must visit if you are in Reading
Ferb - 11 Apr 2012 20:27
Another visit today,decent pint of cropcircle, other beers available were ,from West Berks Brewery,Mags Mild, Old Father Thames and D.r Hexters Healer, also Granny Wouldn't Like it from Wolf,Church End's Bad Rabbit, Mole End's Paddy's Tarmac Tipple and Saxon City Dubbonni. The Choice never disappoints. The Hobgoblin closes 31/3/12 and reopens on 3/4/12 under the new name of the Alehouse , a change forced on the pub by Marston's who own the name since acquiring Wychwood Brewery, It will still be the same pub bar the name and a lick of paint.With beer this good and diverse you've got to visit if in Reading.
Picasso09 - 20 Mar 2012 21:07
Nice pint of Maggs Mild today,at £3.00 a pint not bad also. Eight beers available , three from West Berks Brewery and five guests plus several real ciders and perrys, including the awesome Kenny Cramps Double Vision on hand pump. Currently undergoing preparation for redecoration so the walls and ceiling normally adorned with 100s of pump clip badges are currently bare. By far the best pub in the centre of Reading.
Picasso09 - 12 Mar 2012 19:07
Quite surprised that a small reall ale pub like this manages to survuve on a main shopping street. Am sure one of the coffee outlet chains would love to get their hands on the space. Had an enjoyable pint of Hexter's Healing.
Snarling_Mallard - 26 Feb 2012 22:26
Well hello Waitrose Ernie!!! - I assume you are advertising another pub in Reading and not the Hobgoblin. Now I'm not gay but I've slept with a man who is!! Look forward to meeting you soon.
mcroyal - 22 Feb 2012 22:52
Not a review as such but just to let you know we are now newly opened as Readings newest Gay pub. New tennants, new decor, new atmosphere. All are welcome so pop in for a beer and a bite to eat. An update to the info on this site will follow soon.
Waitrose_Ernie - 27 Jan 2012 16:34
Went in on Wednesday afternoon in December. Always a pleasure to visit. Lots of local ales and nice cosy little alcoves to sit in. Shame the name has to change but hopefully that's all that will change for a very long time. On my visit had Plain Ales - Sheep Dip, West Berks - Holly Cutter, East London - Pale & Binghams - Hot Dog Chilli Stout.
Beer_Spotter - 2 Jan 2012 16:59
Ah, The Hobgoblin - you either love this place or hate it. A small poky little pub, the decor is about 6 million beermats on the walls, the range of real ales is vast and the music tends towards the heavy metal end of the spectrum ( Zep, Trivium,'s all there). The tables are sticky - whether due to too much polish or beer residue is hard to determine.

There are a lot of tiny little alcoves you can sit in which take no more than 3 or four people. The pub is entirely made of wood. West Berkshire Brewery is the main supplier, but there are lots and lots of guests. We are always staggered as to how such a place as survived in the centre of Reading, when everything else is being sanitised and homogenised.

Long may it remain in existence.
ramblethenlunch - 23 Dec 2011 16:03
The pub will soon be changing its name from The Hobgoblin to The Alehouse (something to do with ownership of the name). Beers can be pricey but the West Berks range is usually reasonable - £3.00 - £3.20. Good range of ciders and perry.
Beer range is always interesting with new breweries often featuring.
mcroyal - 21 Dec 2011 12:35
Great pub with expensive beer, although they did have one on for less than 3 quid for the first time in ages(others were up to £3.80). Like for like the beers are 20p-40p more expensive here than in the Nag's Head. Is, however, a very nice pub.
baxterfish - 14 Nov 2011 20:34
Good range of ales; I had Dark Star Porter which was very good & for my round of 2 pints I was charged £7.50 - that's on a par with the more expensive real ale pubs in London. Why? when all the other pubs are a lot more cheaper....
Booze_Allen - 13 Nov 2011 17:12
After a couple of drinks in the plastic pubs down the oracle, it was a joy to find a real pub. Great beer, interesting building. Lots of nooks and crannies.
anonymous - 16 Oct 2011 21:28
they used to play motorhead now it is only pet shop boys!
whisky_diet - 1 Sep 2011 11:44
Please note I have nothing against those of a homosexual bent (no pun intended). However since the Hob has been under new management these disco evenings and flamboyantly themed quiz nights have given the impression the powers that be are trying to distance themself from the lifeblood of the place; the regulars. I am pretty liberal with a live and let live attitude to life but when you have a six foot drag artist sit on your lap and then proceed to sing Right Said Fred dittys it all gets a bit much. Especially considering this was 3pm! At this rate I'll be drinking in the Wynford or Nags Head!
camra_colin - 31 Aug 2011 16:53
Small pub, decent beer.

Please clean the toilets more often
beershot - 11 Aug 2011 18:08
Cracking pub, great beer. Atmosphere seems to vary along with the wide range of customers but have always found it friendly and welcoming. Shame whoever owns it doesn't seem willing to spend any money on the place though
justanothergirl - 11 Jul 2011 03:00
Still the most cliquey over rated pub in the town with expensive beers and pompous regulars.
Nightjar - 5 Jul 2011 23:57
Woah, a little bird just told me, must visit reading soon; Hobgoblin beer festival from the 16th to the 19th. The best pub in reading only with MORE beers. I was there last week and the beers were top notch as were the staff. Any excuse but beer festival here i come.

Jay73 - 10 Jun 2011 18:13
still the best place in reading, and Im polite (mostly) great staff, great regulars and sorely missed abroad!!! ah well
michmet - 7 Jun 2011 23:40
Beer in this pub is of superlative quality.No mediocre beer and no mediocre people either.You can have a good chat with the patrons providing you're polite and not a bigot.You can have a quiet solitary drink if you so wish and there are little secluded places too.
funky - 5 Jun 2011 18:20
Great pub with a super selection of ales.The barman was well versed on this and was very helpful and had a great knowledge of local breweries. Ive been there a few times now and always love it.If you come to Reading pay it a visit... you will love it
ToddScarlet - 14 May 2011 09:21
went in on monday morn for the first time and it wont be my last great range of beers and the barman knows about beer, a great little pub
jeffisgame - 12 Apr 2011 20:43
well kept ale and a warm welcome, impressive beer selection, and friendly staff and locals, a great little pub
littlecon - 10 Apr 2011 09:24
Ventured in to the front bar and immediately felt welcome by both the staff and local regular customers.
Although it was my first visit I felt I had been frequenting the bar for years.

Will definitely be re-visiting when ever the opportunity presents itself.
Captain_Kirk - 16 Feb 2011 20:44
Managed to spend half an hour in this pub between trains - about 10 minutes max from the station. An interesting pub layout wise with a number of little snugs through the back. Beer was excellent - Chubbs from West Berkshire I think - I found it difficult to read the pumps having to dodge the animated club of four who block your way to the bar. Pricey.
JBGatelad - 5 Feb 2011 10:19
Can't say we've ever had any issues with hostility or being served. Beer is good 9 times out of 10, but does occasionally have an off day/off beer, but with 8 on the go at once that's not bad going.
jammyrhona - 10 Jan 2011 11:07
Have to agree with last post on here. They have lost a lot of the friendly regulars and is now decidely hostile if you're not in with the in crowd.
blackandwhite - 20 Dec 2010 21:48
A great place if you are in with the 'gang', or can get a seat at the back early on (out of the 'gangs' way). If you have to loiter near the bar to sup your ale, then you'll soon get on 'gangs' nerves and further requests for beer may be accidentally on purpose not heard and 'gang' may have a little collective chuckle to themselves about that.
Tiny, always full, and you have to admire their determination in variety of very good real ales. Just don't get in 'gangs' way, or you won't be made to feel at all welcome.
RichRichMan - 18 Nov 2010 00:39
Still a great pub with excellent beer but is VERY expensive. The Nag's Head is a better bet if you are watching the pennies.
baxterfish - 14 Oct 2010 17:20
Small enclosed spaces with much beer memorabilia from through the years, good pub but expensive.
DrinkingJoeFrazier - 29 Aug 2010 10:02
Another quick note in reply to lauraeva's post.

lauraeva's failure to notice the absence of Wychwood beers and saying that none of the ales were to her liking is incredible - did she drink all 8 and not realise that none were Wychwood? Doesn't make sense. I bet she didn't even go in.
mericet - 29 Aug 2010 09:37
Quick note in reply to lauraeva's post.
Yes, Loos need work, and we are still pushing for this to be done.
We are no longer connected with Wychwood and do not serve Hobgoblin beers, but I am sorry that none of the 8 ales on offer yesterday hit your jackpot.
Please do try again though, some will have changed.
(Assistant Manager, The Hobgoblin, Reading.)

Wallace2010 - 13 Aug 2010 16:19
As I exit the Oracle with shopping bags, Hobgoblin is opposite ... if I need loos what they offer is disgraceful :-)
Guess you go in there for beer, and you see an array of handpumps serving usually reliable brown stuff, but not a fan of Hobgoblin ales, and guests rarely hit jackpot ... Wetherspoons usually has more interesting beers.
Really don't like the ageing compartmented aspect of the pub, makes it a stand up place which is frankly a turn-off.
Should be a brilliant pub but its a place I avoid ...
lauraeva - 12 Aug 2010 22:39
still the best place in Reading. 2nd only to the retreat.

trouble is if you go in for one, then get chatting to the staff or locals, next thing you know....its well past going home time and you can hardly stand!
michmet - 12 Aug 2010 08:02
Excellent beer, hardly any sitting space. Very expensive real ale.
Passing_By - 11 Jul 2010 18:35
Agree with SotonAleDrinker, not the pub for Dynamiteninja? It could be desribed as a little shabby / sticky but I put that down to character?? I'd far rather this with it's vast choice of ales, informative and friendly barman, nooks and crannies, interesting walls etc than many of the sterile clone pubs that abound now!!
uriahheep - 30 Jun 2010 23:17
Surly and rude barman. Had a real attitude, outwardly hostile. Dirty, sticky glass. Hazy beer, although wasn't sure if this was intentional as I hadn't had that ale before. Table was sticky all over, graffiti on the walls covered up with pump clips. Cosy alcoves, but when you have bags become frustratingly small. £3 for ale when the much better Retreat sells it for £2.60. A pint of Coke also came up as £3! Won't be returning to be insulted again.
dynamiteninja - 14 Jun 2010 21:53
what a cracking pub first visit, unspoilt inside full of brewriana laid out inside with alcoves and snugs... friendly informative stafff who obviously love their beer,.... nine pumps offering 3 milds [ it is camra mild month] 5 bitters and a cider. tried a half from each pump and went back to a beer from the Welsh brewery "Purple Moose" called "The Dark Side Of The Moose" a rich dark ale 4.6 very moorish with a smokey aftertaste, then the Mrs came back and I had to go......but I will return
lilscse - 13 May 2010 20:00
Was here before the match Saturday.

Didn't need to go looking for anywhere else, this has everything you could want in a pub.
Was even playing old rock music, but not at a loud volume, which is not the norm for a real ale pub, but was no bad thing in my opinion.

Staff friendly and top quality beers on offer, I especially liked the West Berkshire beers, which I presume are on all the time.

I shall hopefully return one day.

sound69 - 19 Apr 2010 18:14
This pub gets better with each vist i make. Eight beers constantly changing and unusual and all kept to a very high standard (cellar staff deserve real praise, you wont find a better pint in Reading).

The place could do with some money spent on it but its clean and tidy with the thousands of pump clips on the wall giving a clue to the dedication of the staff in sourcing the beers.

Staff were friendly and were eager to help me find the best pint as indeed were the locals.

Jay73 - 13 Apr 2010 18:51
Hopefuly still open , havent visited for a while, second only to the Retreat in Reading. Sorry Nags Head your third.
willothewisp - 10 Apr 2010 15:35
Thank god for that.
Picasso09 - 8 Apr 2010 08:08
Aaron95 I think you might be confusing the Hobgoblin with the Rising Sun near the station which is currently boarded up having undergone renovation and awaiting someone to take it over. The Hobgoblin is still going strong.
justanothergirl - 7 Apr 2010 16:07
That's a real shame if it has gone. Reading suffers from a lack of decent pubs. Wonder if the revamped Nag's Head has taken all its trade?
DuchyBoy - 6 Apr 2010 17:41
Looks like it has closed. Was boarded up when we passed on Saturday night.
Aaron95 - 6 Apr 2010 17:20

It can be difficult, can't it, to find a nice real ale pub in an unfamiliar city? I don't know Reading at all, but found myself there (for a Jethro Tull concert), and so did a bit of research for a drinking establishment not too far from the Hexagon that did good ale.

I am very glad I found the Hobgoblin. My first clue that this was going to be right up my street was the discreet 'no mobile phone' sign (showing, amusingly a picture of a 90s brick of a phone). I find people chattering away on a phone in a pub very irritating, so the idea that a pub is for chatting with the people actually IN the pub was very appealing.

Walking in, the bar is in front of you, serving a variety of ales - ales which were, by and large, new to me (and many which were local). There is evidence everywhere that the Hobgoblin has an ever-changing selection of ales - there are pump signs covering every available wall surface.

The front of the pub is small - a handful of stools, and a small bar. Delving into the back (watch your head - the passage between front and back has a low ceiling - I could walk through no problem, but anyone taller than my 5'7" would have to duck), you'll find a number of small snug areas - seating between two and around six. Very cosy these were too. The pub is dimly lit, with a bare floor - no garish carpet or bright strip lighting here.

I had a different beer each time, and to my shame, cannot remember what I had, but they were all well kept, and delicious. The staff were friendly and happy to help me choose my tipple - asking me what I liked, and recommending ales based on that.

The clientele is indeed beardy, though mixed. It surprised me not a whit that a group by the bar were envious that I was seeing Tull that night. It can, I'd imagine, seem a bit intimidating if one is used to the normal Whetherspoons/lager type pubs, but I found it charming and pleasant.

The loos were cold, and tired, but clean - nothing special, but nothing awful.

I will certainly be re-visiting this pub should I find myself back in Reading, and would happily recommend it to any ale fans, and any fans of the quirky, intelligent and unusual.

mattygroves - 16 Mar 2010 16:53
Noted the comment below, but on yesterdays visit the beer was excellent, both in choice and condition. Still a wonderful pub but very expensive with prices from £3.20 - £3.80!! Has lost out to the Nag's Head as my main drinking pub in Reading, but still pop in for one pint.
baxterfish - 23 Feb 2010 13:40
Popped in here recently on reading that this place has got better but I am afraid it hasn't. The one beer I had was off, perhaps I was unlucky. Very expensive for the beer too.
Rudolph - 1 Feb 2010 11:56
great place great people AND whatever happens, MUST stay the way it is!!!!!! a haven in life's shite normality!!!!!
michmet - 28 Dec 2009 15:01
Wonderful eccentric little place in the most unlikely location in the middle of a shopping street! Excellent selection of beers, only problem is there is no seating for any groups larger than three!
jfrebrycn - 22 Dec 2009 22:58
What a smashing little pub! Super selection of interesting real ales and very quirky seating areas!! Splendid stuff.
King_Viv - 13 Nov 2009 15:30
An interesting pub but I was the only girlie!
dulldolly - 11 Nov 2009 20:55
A rather shabby careworn interior, wooden floor, scruffy old tables, stools and benches. The walls and ceilings are literally covered with hundreds of beer mats, behind which the bits left showing are a dark nicotine brown, whether from age pre the smoking ban, or by design I don't know. Mobiles not to be used, an old tin John Smith's Magnet Ales sign, metal/rock from the juke box....not overly loud though.....and great beer.
The main bar has a real Boho/studenty feel, but step up to the raised area and follow the corridor round and there are a series of tiny individual booths, seating from three or four up to around six, in privacy. Most unusual.
The clientele are mixed, metalheads, biker types, students, beer fans but also shoppers and even me. Great selection on, yesterday had, West BerkshireOldFather Thames, WB Dr Hexter's Wedding Ale, WB Mr Chubbs Lunchtime Bitter, Church End Stout Coffin, Burton Bridge Have a Heart, Ascot Alley Cat, Isle of Purbeck Harry's Harvest Pale, plus for cider fans, Westons Old Rosie, Perry and Vintage. There was also on draught something called Lovibonds Henley Gold and Henley Dark. A search reveals this to be a craft brewery, based obviously in Henley, but the beer is served from continental style fonts so I'm guessing that it is of the filtered keg variety.
I loved the place, a very laid back anything goes/all welcome vibe, and I'll be back some time when I have the chance to do a proper tour of Reading pubs.
Maldenman - 1 Nov 2009 11:31
This pub really is great. Loads of different changing ales, good music and 'interesting' staff!!! Check out the Beer Clip collection. Highly recommended.
wolvesfan - 14 Sep 2009 11:07
Great selection of beers. 6 or 7 hand pumps including real cider. Sampled a very good mild from local brewers West Berkshire.
Liked all the pump clips stuck to the walls - it took me a while to find any I recognised, but I found a couple.
I liked the little rooms / snugs at the back.
doncaosdelanada - 10 Sep 2009 13:35
A sudden downpour forced me seek shelter here, together with what appeared to be half the population of Reading. Sadly left before I could get a drink. I will definitely return on a less busy day
bee578 - 10 Sep 2009 09:34
Small pub situated on a street corner right in the heart of Reading's pedestrianised shopping centre.

A splendid collection of pump clips covers the walls and ceilings of what could otherwise be described as a rather spartan interior. There's a smallish single bar with a number of intimate wood pannelled booths off of a corridor leading to the outside toilets. There's a rather bohemian, studenty feel to the place, although on my recent visit, there was a surprisingly wide mix of customers.

A blackboard outside tells us that over 5900 guest ales have been served since September 1993. Mobile phones are banned. A notice on the door as you exit warns you that " Caution - outside world exists beyond this point". A notice also urged me to join the campaign to "Reopen the Jolly Anglers" - a small pub by the side of the canal that I have never visited, and might not now get the opportunity to, seemingly.

There was half a dozen real ales on during my recent lunchtime visit, including 3 from the local West Berkshire brewery. The Good old Boy - £ 2.80p - was a fine, malty tasting pint.

The pub is listed in the 2009 GBG and is worth a visit when you're in the town centre

JohnBonser - 27 Aug 2009 16:41
still the best place in reading.
michmet - 30 Jul 2009 14:09
Not as good as it used to be before Duncan left for Norfolk but still a unique little pub.Excellent selection of beers. Woman behind the bar was a bit miserable.
Normlikesbeer - 13 Jul 2009 23:12
This is a fantastic little pub. I visited it last weekend and was really taken back by how nice it was. I didn't realise the pub had so many little alcoves perfect for sitting in while you have a chat with your friands. Anyone who loves a proper pub with proper beer will love it! I Will be visiting again soon!
palinlover - 23 Jun 2009 17:48
Visited just as it opened 11:00. Great range of beers which included 3 milds (mild in May). I had the Marlow's Rebellion Mild which was excellent.
Still just as inviting as ever, with a ceiling covered in the 5900 beer mats showing the beers served over recent years and lots of little alcoves.
steve2000 - 24 May 2009 11:15
The manager that runs it is doing a good job in difficult circumstances. The pub-co that owns it know full well that it's the only decent pub in the whole chain, and that the chain would probably collapse if it weren't for this pub propping it up, yet they insist on making life difficult for the manager. One such example is the impeccable timing of of the cellar refit - right before the busiest time of year! It seems that the pub-co (like all pub cos) is run by a group of blithering idiots.

Having said that - still very good. Service is fast and friendly, except when the tall bloke with dreds is working, who's as rude as f**k.
mericet - 22 Apr 2009 13:13
Tried the Brick Kiln Bitter, in from Frilsham's Pot Kiln. Was a nice drop. Cellar was being refurbished, so beer was drawn right next to the bar.
Visit brought back memories!
TheHofBear - 16 Apr 2009 13:44
I have to agree that this pub is sadly going down hill.

The bar staff are not that friendly and have a take it or leave it attitude, and seem to treat customers as an annoyance.

The beer is still good quality, although the trend seems to be for heavy and dark beers and at over £3 is more expensive than London.

There are better places to go where you're made more welcome with similiar quality of ale.

It's sad this pub has changed for the worse. Come on, get your act together.

Statto - 10 Apr 2009 11:44
I think this pub has gone downhill - it's still a good ale pub but I've had a couple of pints that were merely in good (not excellent) condition recently. The general grottiness of the place especially the toilets is losing its quirky charm, the more so since it's now really quite expensive. The management and owners need to sort the place out - it's not surprising that former regualrs are now to be seen in the Allied Arms, the Nags Head and no doubt elsewhere.
newbury_drinker - 22 Mar 2009 17:52
Went on a Friday eve, very busy. Sad to report beer was too warm but good range on offer. Take some ice cubes!
Sir_Loin_of_Beef - 4 Mar 2009 22:37
There's probably nothing new to say about this extraordinary pub, so just the facts;

Great beers from small breweries, notably West Berkshire, in great condition.

Idiosyncratic decoration, pump clips and beer mats cover almost every available surface.

Packed to the rafters with the weird, the wonderful, and even the normal, but always fast and attentive service.

Lots of funny little spaces and fairly disgusting bogs.

Simply the one of the best real ale pubs anywhere in the country - don't miss it.

anonymous - 16 Feb 2009 11:39
Has the feel of a grotto about it with the whole place festooned with pump clips and other advertisements. A small front bar with alcoves and cubby holes further back. Good selection of beer that I imagine turns over quickly. As others have said it's quite expensive, about 30p more than other pubs in Reading serving same beers. Definitely a place to put on a Reading crawl, provided thereís not too many of you.

Millay - 2 Feb 2009 21:41
A great little pub with some decent real ales.
Some studenty up-their-own-arse types constantly at the bar, but it has many little alcoves to escape in to.
I liked the second hand books for sale in the back room - Sod the library, I'm off t' pub!

SMW - 26 Dec 2008 08:13
First time in here after the Saints game on Saturday. West Berkshire beers included Staked Pleached and Ethered, Magg's Mild, Full Circle and Dr Hexters Healer. Also Hop Back Autumn Glow, Strongs Best, Arkells JRA, Rebellion Red and White Horse Ding Dong.

Quirky pub with cubby holes out the back and what feels like an outside toilet. On the expensive side but a must visit.
GuideDogSaint - 23 Nov 2008 15:59
Lots of the previous incumbent's tat has been removed and the pub looks much more light and welcoming (I don't like chrome fixtures and white walls, but I do like to be able to see where I'm walking). The beer is still good, but so, so expensive.
beerPrincess - 20 Nov 2008 17:07
I loved this pub.Right in the center,good selection of real ales. All we tried were in good condition.
lotus - 11 Nov 2008 15:54
Was in here a couple of weeks ago - my first ever visit. Quality ale's on tap and have to agree they were expensive but I suppose that's par for the course in this area, maybe? I loved reading all the pump clips and beer maps that were fixed to all the walls and cielings. Quality music being played when I was there too, nothing wrong with a bit of hard rock now and again. I also loved the sign behind the bar which stated "This is NOT the pub you are looking for". It is also next door to the Pasty shop and the barman allowed us to scoff some whilst sat in the pub.
ICTGringo - 24 Oct 2008 23:47
Quinno, would have to agree with you completely. The Hobgoblin has been the best real ale pub in Reading for over 15 years, but the price hikes and current pricing of admittedly rare-for-the-area ales leave it trailing for attractiveness behind the Nag's Head, The Retreat and even - gulp, dare I say it - the Wetherspoons' quartet in the town. No-one minds paying a bit more for something you won't find elsewhere, but up to £1 a pint more? Sorry, but it pegs it down from my ever-constant rating of 10 to a current 8.
Gristy - 28 Sep 2008 23:29
Some prices are getting silly - £3.60 is too much, even for an excellent ale the middle of Reading. Check the blackboard on the left wall behind the bar before you order, is my advice.
Quinno - 21 Sep 2008 17:51
A Real Pub. If you like clean bright chain pubs with fake chemical alchopops avoid this one
Ianatheling - 3 Aug 2008 01:27
Good beers, great character, nice ambience - I liked this pub but really wanted to love it - "hygiene factors" let it down; just needs someone to clean it better and more!
murgy24 - 17 Jun 2008 22:11
Slightly pricey beer, but in this place I guess you get what you pay for as the Real Ales are top notch. The pub has characters and a few characters too!
Abteilung - 1 Jun 2008 19:08
Excellent range of ales and a very nice collection of snugs, ideal in a slow period (we were there on a sunday afternoon) but it must get incredibly crowded in normal circumstances. Not quite sure of the prog/metal soundtrack but to each his own (my own personal choices would be equally undesirable to most punters, I'm sure).
dpv - 19 May 2008 11:03
Always a great range of beers but the place always seems to stink to high heaven of b.o.
drzoon - 14 May 2008 18:51
I never went in here for customer service or clean toilets but the range of Beer served here makes the place a must when you are out and about in Reading. Take a break from the shopping for a quick Draught Budvar and sit in the sun watching all the people go by. Real Cider, Real Lager, Real Bitter, all taken with a bit of traditional spit and sawdust.
Nigekirk - 11 May 2008 14:20
A must if in Reading but be warned one of the more high priced places. 1st time in but change of manager doesn't seem to have changed anything reading previous comments. Toilet issue is being dealt with. You lose track of time reading the pump clips that cover all walls & ceilings.
Leicesterbeer - 5 May 2008 11:23
I would like to thank everyone for their great support, and usually very fair reviews.
I would also like to reassure you that the new manager will be a very familiar face - I very much hope that the pub goes from strength to strength, and the new manager gets the same support that everyone gave me.
Thank you.

robthehob - 25 Apr 2008 11:59
best place in reading, BUT what will happen when rob goes?? who knows, the regulars are a great bunch, so with any luck it should stay the same!
beer is top notch and changed so regularly it is amazing.
staff extremely good, (even if they tell you how not to have lemonade) and cannot fault it for NOT having trouble.

10 out of 10..even with a slightly broken toilet (which is the brewerys fault anyway)
michmet - 20 Apr 2008 19:43
Excellent beer, but :
1 - a few of the regulars stink to high heaven. Hopefully as the days get warmer the front door will be left open more often to let the stench out
2 - the toilets are a disgrace. The gents was effectively a large puddle for much of last Saturday.

I've heard it rumoured that Rob the landlord is off to pastures new in Cambridge soon. Let's hope the new incumbent can sort out the toilets at least.
CarolineNo - 7 Apr 2008 15:49
The lemonade story is very interesting. While I would agree that excellent beer doesn't need lemonade, one of the Hobgob regulars drinks pints of Dr. Hexter's Healer top.

I thought that the Hob had improved its customer service, but this is just one of several tales of woe I have heard recently.

How disappointing.
beerPrincess - 9 Mar 2008 17:01
TheTranquileye - that's a great story. I'm with the staff on not spoiling decent ale - but that's taking it too far. I think I'll go for my Cider and black elsewhere!
Alfnoax - 31 Jan 2008 14:52
Haven't been in for a while but on my first (and last, as you'll hear why) I was extremely annoyed by the bar staff. I ordered an ale recommended by the friend that took me in, it was very strong in taste and as I'd paid for it, I was determined to drink it. I went back to the bar and asked for a top of lemonade to take the edge off it. I was told I couldn't do that by the barmaid. I said I was willng to pay and again was told no. I asked why and was informed that 'we don't put lemonade in our beer'. I politely pointed out that as I had paid for it, it was my beer and I could do what I wanted with it. At that point the landlord (or manager, but certainly the man in charge) became involved. I took a different tack and asked for a half a lemonade. Despite selling it, again I was refused. At this point I said I was leaving, to which the landlord replied 'good and don't come back'. Needless to say I haven't.

TheTranquilEye - 31 Jan 2008 14:44
gr8 pint of spiced porter was quaffed last week, mobile went off and was subtly told to switch it off, oops........8/10 though 4 the great beer
fat_beer_badger - 17 Jan 2008 12:47
Found this oddity through BITE. Good choice of beer in excellent condition, but what a stuffy unwelcoming place to strangers. Bit like a club and if you want to sit you have to sit in a box!
roamin - 16 Jan 2008 10:53
Definitely one of the best pubs in the world. Always as excellent range of beer, friendly staff (once you get to know them a bit) who are always willing to help out if you don't know what to drink, and absolutely no chavs.
Always worth a visit.
mericet - 10 Jan 2008 18:51
Probably the best pub in Reading. Only The Retreat comes anywhere near it. Beer good (those who say it's overpriced must drink in some amazingly cheap pubs!) and so's the service. Wish they'd go back to the "real" name of The London Tavern though.
Dan137 - 6 Jan 2008 11:12
I've been coming here regularly for the past 3 years or so and I love it. Walls and ceilings decorated in pump clips/beer mats. Eight real ales always available. Welcoming at lunchtime but because of the layout can seem unfriendly when packed (in the evenings). Recommended.
biermeister - 30 Dec 2007 21:34
scuzzy, slightly unwelcoming, yet somehow really charming mad hobbit-hole of a pub. Great beer & private little seated cubby-holes make this the weirdest high street drinking experience. Highly recommended to all but those seeking to impress a prim boy/girlfriend, & don't tell too many people, as despite it's ramblingness (& mine) it really is quite small. Best wishes, Frodo.
mic_mac - 30 Dec 2007 15:28
Quirky pub, wide range of clientele. Usually excellent beer and a quick turnover, so ever-changing range. The place to go in Reading.
Jezza64 - 30 Dec 2007 15:12
The beer may be excellent (albeit a tad overpriced) but the pub itself has a stench which defies description. Do they ever clean it?
believeinbutter - 27 Dec 2007 18:37
Great beer - no chavs - Quite simply the best Hobgoblin in England
beefbeerandbaps - 7 Dec 2007 12:09
Another enjoyable visit on Sat. Iíve already done a review so hereís just a list of what was on offer on handpump: West Berkshireís Maggs Mild, Leaning Lord, Mr Chubbs, also Coastal Angelina, Hereford Spinning Dog, Cotswold Olde English Rose, Little Valley Gustibus, Marlow Rebellion Mutiny, Westons Perry. Worth a visit? I think so.
trainman - 3 Dec 2007 13:26
Managed to squeeze in few halves at The Hobgoblin after an afternoon at the Nagís Head, and glad I did. Attached praise persuaded me it wasnít one of the awful Wychwood creations such as the one nr Brixton and, although it must have a Wych history (see the ugly goblinesque caricature behind the bar, no not the barmaid Ė she was lovely), it was fortunately a different concern altogether. Things are a bit hazy but I believe there were 8 handpumps, happily all unusual suspects, and those I tried were all good.
Away from the bar the pub itself is a little maze of nooks & crannies, some so small that the addition of a curtain here & there might make you think you were in a walk-thru confessional. Come, cleanse your soul, & have a good few beers whilst youíre at it!

trainman - 27 Sep 2007 11:14
Very pleased to see a couple of milds amongst the fine array of beers sold here. I particularly enjoy a visit to the Hobgoblin at "off peak" times when we can occupy one of the snugs. Deservedly very popular, to the point of being rather crammed at certain times.
fromedrinker - 21 Aug 2007 13:27
Quite simply the best pub in Reading by a country or town mile. Perfect and then either belog or you can bog off!

Baz McCarthy
Baz_McCarthy - 13 Aug 2007 19:16
Beer wonderful (if a little on the pricey side!) Toilets are hideous and the locals can be interesting. No mobile phone rule is good. Have been in a number of times and found the bar staff a mixuture of the good and bad. There was a "gentleman" who served behind the bar who looked very much like 'Comic Book Guy' in The Simpsons. He was shockingly rude (the locals just used to laugh) so I wonder if he was just playing to the gallery? Still, it's worth a visit and probably the only place in Reading where you will get a decent pint...
revbrianlovecraftscott - 31 Jul 2007 15:00
Nice pub, wonderful selection of beers in good condition, if a tad on the expensive side. Still you you have to pay for quality or you may be forced to drink at a JD Wetherspoons! Not much wrong with this pub!
pubinspectors - 28 Jul 2007 20:29
Still love the beer range and the ale quality but never fancy drinking it inside, always opt for the small outdoors area. The toilets are pretty bad, they must make enough money in this place to give them an overhaul soon.
Quinno - 27 Jun 2007 23:57
If you're into Real Ale, then it's worth a little excursion to this place. A fine selection of constantly changing, well kept beer makes the £15 train fare from London more than worth it. Nice secluded little booths out the back and more beer mats on the wall than you can drown in. Highly recommended.
The_Greene_King - 26 Jun 2007 09:26
Impressive warren of a pub selling some truly fine real ales. This was the last place I'd thought I'd find in the centre of Reading.
Beer mats for wallpaper and old gadges yarping on about the price of lead.
Fantastic beer.
londinieres - 14 Jun 2007 16:13
This is a great pub, but only a quiet times. It is not the right kind of layout for a busy pub.
spiky_mikey - 8 Jun 2007 11:58
I didnt really like this pub. I think its way over rated and I know your not allowed mobile phones which I think is a good thing but if your phone rings they look at you as if your an alien. Its an old duffers pub this. I wont be back
dgriffin - 1 May 2007 14:07
Quirky even
TSW - 27 Apr 2007 12:35
Excellent guirky little pub, loads of wood panelling and little alcoves hiding around every corner . Completely out of place in Reading town centre
TSW - 27 Apr 2007 12:34
I can't rate this pub highly enough. The beer selection is always amazing and the staff care that you get a pint you enjoy down to letting you taste anything you like and being good with recommendations. It's a real character place and if you've never been you really should go.
huggie - 20 Apr 2007 12:09
Certainly the best pub that I have been to in Reading serving a good variety of well kept real ales. Full of characters and friendly staff.
zeitlin - 17 Apr 2007 15:04
I've actually heard the staff talking about how to be nicer to people! I had thought it was just a dream, but no, they're working hard to make sure that the atmosphere matches up to the beer.

I love the Hobgob!
beerPrincess - 9 Apr 2007 17:22
Yes, this is a great little pub. Lots of great beer and little drinking booths. A real beer drinker's pub. It's the only pub I know of in the Reading town centre which has any character.
stevefarmer - 3 Apr 2007 18:43
What can i say, i love everything about this place. The Beer is V.Well kept, staff are always willing to help and the regulars open and friendly. Beware though, this pub may spoil you; other places just cant compete when it has you in its grasp :-)
Cjay73 - 31 Mar 2007 10:14
A pleasant oasis in a sea of crappy bars that permeate most city centres these days. Constantly rotating choide of ales kept in perfect nick. Diverse and easygoing clientele add to the appeal.
moclips2002 - 18 Mar 2007 08:26
Wow! What a difference!

No change in personnel, but the place (which includes the furniture: those regulars too regular to be anything short of permanent fixtures) is definitely feeling more cared for now.

Not sure that the flowers and candles (so I'm told) are quite appropriate, but they're nice gimmicks!
beerPrincess - 10 Mar 2007 13:56
Aleheads' pub - fine with me! Lots of beers - check out all the pump clips on the ceiling as prrof of the vast number they have served over the years. Maybe they could vary the selection a bit more - a bit top heavy on heavy/strong brews, maybe? Can get very smokey when busy. One of the managers is a bit snotty but most of the staff good. One or two regulars who could be more cooperative when you try to manoeuvre past their bulky frames to the bar!
orval - 7 Mar 2007 11:22
This is a great drinking pub. Don't go expecting haute cuisine and outstanding decor.

There is always a range of ales which are well kept and could provide you with a very merry evenin out if you tried each one!

Very small and homely with some uniques alcoves towards the back.

This is a place for serious ale heads!!
Artonsleeve - 7 Feb 2007 17:43
It's getting better in some respects, but worse in others.

Unfortunately, the Hobgob is becoming a victim of its own success. The accountants who own (run?) the place are making money, so the prices are going up in order that they can make more. I don't know if the landlord actually has any say in the matter, but if he does, he's not being heard.

The staff are trying really hard to be more polite, but there's at least one who should seek alternative employment: the huffing and puffing 5 minutes into their shift shows that they're not enjoying themselves!

beerPrincess - 28 Dec 2006 12:51
..the smell of the place put me off drinking in there as soon as i stepped in..
Markus - 20 Dec 2006 20:59
If ever there was a pub for a rather unique atmoshphere this would have to be near the top of the list. Don't have to worry about drinking Wychwood beer here as there is ample choice. Pub is so well decorated with beer mats! Also rather busy, but people obviously like it
aleman - 26 Nov 2006 02:54
A decent little place, with a ban on mobile phones inside. Lots of real ales to choose from, not a massive amount of seating.
DeggyT - 5 Nov 2006 00:18
I was here two saturdays running, the one just gone and the one before. Both times the beer quality was fantastic with an excellent range that changed whilst I was there. First time, I spent a couple of hours there, lovely atmosphere, I was certainly in the minority not being a regular and found myself wondering how long it would take to be accepted as one, it seems like a happy, accepting, if slightly strange and disfunctional family.
The bar staff were all friendly and helpful though distinguishing which of the customers were staff proved challenging and I came to the conclution that they are pretty much interchangable.
My second visit disappointed me, beer still great, mostly staff I hadn't seen before, true, I'd made the mistake of going in before Reading's home game and it was pretty busy but the staff's attitudes were radically different and I got the impression that I was imposing by being there and asking for beer which is supposedly why they are there? Mind you the customers were all very cheerful so I won't let it put me off.I would (and hopefully will) happily spend many hours here, the loos are pretty basic but I think it depends what time of day it is as to how grotty they are. And even if you don't find someone to strike up conversation with you're never going to be short on stuff to look at with the thousands of pump clips that adorn the walls. I look forward to my next visit.
Wergild - 17 Oct 2006 14:13
Hurrah! The remaining staff are getting better (although the best ones have left/are leaving) and the pub is now being cared for a little: the ancient Hallowe'en decorations have had a "wipe"; the curtains were down at the weekend - presumably for a steam clean; you can see that the bar floor is made from wood, rather than gunk.
I suspect that a change of licencee is the best way forward for this place now.
beerPrincess - 27 Sep 2006 15:06
Great beer, wierd place. <b>Definately</b> worth a visit even if you don't stay too long. You'll come for the beer selection, stay a while for the atmosphere but leave because of the grotty loos. :-(
In fact, it all needs a good clean. Someday, in the near future, I would like to think that this pub will refurbished tastefully and be worth considering for a ten.
tickerhacker - 11 Sep 2006 22:30
Went in there yesterday on the recommendations from here and I was suitably impressed. An island of real beer and a good pub in a sea of bland chain pubs in Reading.
Tomi - 26 Aug 2006 12:33
Has a fantastic range of ales, a really good reason to visit this place. Proper pub atmosphere - small, dark, smokey - and decent music.

A few weirdos about though, and judging from the state of the place, and the decor, it hasn't been cleaned since last October 31st.
burnsy - 21 Aug 2006 13:08
This is a great pub with a fabulous selection of ales and a great bunch of staff who really don't care - in the best possible way! A good place for a boys evening or lunchtime conversation. Some of the 'engravings' in the back are downright hilarious and well worth a few minutes of your time.
FilmFan - 2 Aug 2006 11:36
Actually, there is one member of staff who is rude to everyone and has absolutely no idea about how to treat people. I'm not talking "the customer's always right" nonsense (sometimes that's worse than rudeness!), but general politeness that anyone with any decency would give to another member of the human race.

The pub is actually losing custom over this...
beerPrincess - 2 Aug 2006 09:26
this place is one of only two pubs in reading in which you will never find a bad pint of ale.(the other is the retreat)

the staff are rude sometimes!

because they would rather the idiots, that they are rude to, would piss off elsewhere!

no glitz, no glamour, just really great beer!
lisabean - 22 Jul 2006 14:10
I'm not sure what to make of this place.

Yes it has some fantastic real ales in great condition, and the cubby-holes scattered around are quite endearing, as are the old beer clips adorning the walls and roof.

But on further inspection, it's grubby. Not in a real-ale-hangout way, but just generally manky. And the air is stale, they need to get the windows open abit, especially in the summer!

I think that a bit of TLC could make this a top place, but it's falling a bit short for me at the moment.

NB: There is a no-mobiles policy, which is rigidly enforced by the staff and regulars - be warned!
Quinno - 12 Jul 2006 20:51
The Hobgob doesn't have a regular quiz night any more and is awaiting the addition of new hanging baskets (the beautiful ones shown in your pictures died sometime ago, due to neglect).

While the quality of the ale is still superb, much of the atmosphere leaves little to be desired. The staff range from bright and bubbly to down right rude, and it's just "luck" as to which you get.

Although some parts of the pub have had a superficial make over during the past few months (and I mean superficial), not enough time and energy is spent on making this a welcoming pub. The filthy 20-month-old Hallowe'en decorations in the bar are a prime example.
beerPrincess - 3 Jul 2006 10:26
Mine was an "AB". 1/10 a pint!
5thearlofwimbourne - 17 Jun 2006 15:07
Gristy, I think I too may have used ill-chosen words. Perhaps we are making the same point in different ways: Good beer is worth paying good money for, but £3 a pint does cause the eyebrows to elevate slightly!

How I long for the days of my youth, when a can of Top Deck was 30p...
LordRadlington - 17 Jun 2006 14:48
Great public house very old world style nice beer selection top ales cheap prices to well worth spending and evening here.
brewerbloke - 17 Jun 2006 13:28
No, no, no, no, noooooo! Please don't accuse me of being tight-fisted! I may have used slightly over-emphatic language to make my point, but I'll gladly stand a round or two for you both if you're ever in there with me...I did describe the Hobgoblin as the best beer pub around and that I considered myself lucky for it to be in my home town. Nothing would make me change that view and prices will always continue to climb. I just felt somewhat disappointed that one of my own favourite pubs had to be the first - in the limited choice of pubs that I choose to visit - to broach this barrier. I did also acknowledge that other venues less attractive to me do already charge far more than this.
Incidentally, one of the £3 beers was from a brand-new local brewery, just 10 miles from Reading. Surely no distancing factor involved in the pricing there...
Gristy - 16 Jun 2006 17:24
Hear, hear!
5thearlofwimbourne - 16 Jun 2006 16:00
It seems a shame to me that some are far too concerned with using this site to demonstrate their tight-fistedness than their appreciation of fine ales. Yes, beer is getting more expensive. What isn't? We make our choices about where to drink based on a number of factors, price often being one of them, but let's not forget that we get what we pay for in the sense that Wetherspoon's sell, in my experience, badly kept, often off beers for less than £2 a pint. You won't find me there though. I'll be happily paying The Hobgoblin's 'obscene' prices, knowing I'll be drinking the best beer in the Thames Valley.
LordRadlington - 16 Jun 2006 15:50
Living in Reading, we have always been lucky to have this pub in our town. It has always been at the vanguard of supplying real ale from far and wide - something around 5200 different beers in the last 13 years. For that privilege, it has always been accepted that some of the beer may be 20p or 30p dearer than the average pint in this already expensive town. This has recently meant that some pints have been up as high as £2.80.
HOWEVER, BUYER BEWARE! Whilst I would not wish to deter anyone from visiting the best beer pub around, I was shocked to see on a visit yesterday that they were selling two of the eight beers on handpumps at the incredible price of £3.00 a pint. They were not heavy ABV (only 5.0 / 5.1) for which it is occasinally expected that you may pay a premium, so to say I was stunned was an understatement. I remember the uproar when beer went through the £1 a pint barrier, then the £2, now even the best beer house there is feels it necessary to charge £3 a pint for some of its offerings. I can understand this pricing level in clubs, "trendy" bars and at sports arenas where you don't have a choice, but this is bordering on obscene. I won't stop me going there, but I'll have to call in on the bank manager first...
Gristy - 12 Jun 2006 09:58
I can't rate this pub highly enough. The bar staff are interesting and know their stuff. The regulars are friendly and the snugs out the back are great for a quiet chat.

Every time I've been here they have had excellent beers.

I suppose you could possibly mark them down on having a fruit machine. I mean that's precious space for someone to stand and have a drink wasted! ;)
huggie - 11 Jun 2006 11:52
I agree with the last comment from anonymous. One very good reason to consider moving to Reading, if you don't live there.
moonchildhippy - 23 May 2006 18:08
Not sure I can add anything more really. Pretty much everything thing that can be said about this fantastic pub already has. It always used to be in the top 40 of this site, I have no idea why it isn't anymore. 10 out of 10!
anonymous - 20 May 2006 19:35
Went last week for the 1st time. Excellent selection of ales, and Budvar for the lager drinkers. Staff were friendly, and the pub was, what a real pub should be. No frills, just great ale. Reasonable prices too.
FrankDS - 19 Apr 2006 13:00
Great wide range of beers, really cosy, the graffiti is err, intriguing, as is the thousands of beer mats covering every wall and ceiling - and no two the same either. Not that I could see anyway.
life_in_a_glasshouse - 6 Apr 2006 15:26
I live in Twyford, down the road from Reading. It has four perfectly OK pubs, all rated 7.5 to 9 on this site. Something is deeply wrong if the Hobgoblin in Reading is averaging 7.1. All it does is sell a string of fabulous real ales, the odd porter, and Budvar (all on tap, I mean). No hideous lagers, no music, no fruit machines, just beer, and some bizarre little booths round the back to be private in. Wonderful.
TwyfordDrinker - 4 Apr 2006 19:59
great place to drink. beers well kept.
Berkshier_banker - 20 Mar 2006 09:30
Probably my favourite pub in Reading; certainly the town's best selection of cask ales, and a friendly atmosphere too.
Jude_The_Obscure - 7 Mar 2006 18:46
The best Hobgoblin pub I've ever been in. Which isn't saying much except this place is actually really good, and the beer was too.
anonymous - 28 Feb 2006 15:58
Proper beer, tiny wee booths at the back, lots of wood and lots and lots of graffitti carved into it, including some very detailed sexual histories within phone numbers. Practially oustide toilets are very very cold though. Its well worth a visit.
zinfandel - 5 Feb 2006 14:05
Proper pub, far too busy of course but there's a reason for that, the beer is good.
posterpoet - 3 Feb 2006 10:28
A REAL pub selling REAL ale, unlike the fake plastic crap so called pubs. Great choice of real ales, West Berkshire's Brewery "White Horse", Yuletide/Christmas ale very popular.

Great staff, friendly atmosphere, being a lone female did feel comfortable in here, no annoying blokes trying to chat me up. I wish this was my local. I shall return on my next visit to Reading.

The only downside was being a small pub can get a bit cramped, but other than that great.
moonchildhippy - 27 Dec 2005 12:17
Well, they play "Scarey Bitches" have a bar full of pumps, with tiny spaces in between. Great choice of Beer. Great atmosphere.

I try to visit everytime I go to Reading.
brucedenney - 20 Dec 2005 13:56
A fantastic pub. The only truly decent ale pub in Reading. Rude staff, you say? I have always found that if I'm pleasant to people they will extend the same courtesy to me. In fact, as the beers change so often (they recently had their 4000th guest beer) I rely on the advice of the staff as to what to drink. They have always been charming. And I've never had a bad pint either.
lord_radlington - 15 Dec 2005 12:07
This one is the very antidote to the Pretentious Ubiquitous Beerholes. The mens latrines haven't been cleaned.. however this is irrelevant as this is a Public House with genuine Barmaids only interested in serving nothing but a fine pint. And they'll refuse to serve one anything but.

Selection of non-hop brews also for sale : perry and cider available.
alext - 4 Dec 2005 01:46
This is a pub. A real pub. Where the staff are not pretending to be anyone else. Where a pint costs a pint and a round doesn't cost a small mortgage. Where you can hide away in a corner and down your sorrows in peace with your mates.
Long live this place.
Agree with previous reviewer - if you are after a chic, chain-type wine bar/pub - then this is not your flavour...
oz_chick - 28 Nov 2005 16:57
Love the place - good range of very well kept beers - often more than one choice of darker beer. Staff are very much themselves - I have always found them courteous and friendly but they don't like people who carry themselves as God's gift to the pub trade.

The toilets are primitive but the little back rooms are a joy. Don't go if you like All Bar One's - go there instead!
amleyland - 25 Nov 2005 15:46
A great pub. Great beer. Unique layout. Friendly Staff. The gents toilets are the worst that I have ever encountered in this country though!
spiky_mikey - 19 Nov 2005 16:46
i've noticed a pattern here.. whilst many people like the hob, there are some who have a real problem with it. having been a regular drinker there for a long time now, i'm wondering who this rude bar person is that works there.. i 've never had the misfortune to be served by them.. so here's the thing.. why is it people who have only bad things to say about my friendly local always post anonymously? i'm wondering if the attitude problem lies with Mr Anonymous, and not Rob and his staff.. rant over .. keep ale real
ade_croton - 19 Oct 2005 12:01
Beer was reasonable enough, and there's a "unique" atmosphere, but it's just a shame a visit here can be ruined by incredibly rude bar staff. All in all, not worth the bother until there's a change of landlord (and attitude) - I won't be going back in the meantime.
anonymous - 17 Oct 2005 17:23
Tiny pub, but great beer and friendly staff.

Seats can get a bit uncomfortable in a long session, and the gents are a disgrace, though!
cowbutt - 9 Oct 2005 19:27
that would be "can sound so suspiciously close to mine that I think I've been robbed whilst down here"
sexygoldfish - 23 Aug 2005 18:15
Somewhere that sells decent beer, with a great crowd of people, and a music collection that can sound so suspiciously close that I think I've been robbed whilst down here. Hmm, can't really go wrong.

sexygoldfish - 23 Aug 2005 18:13
What a let down. Dirty and not at all welcoming.Staff were rude and beer quality was not as expected.

anonymous - 22 Aug 2005 11:42
Lesson needed in customer service. I have visited the Hobgoblin frequently over the last year or so and really enjoyed the beer and atmosphere. On my last visit I was served a cider (I forget the name) from a cardboard box which proved to be warm and tasted off.
After taking the first sip I returned to the bar to ask for another pint - giving the reason to the bar person (the landlord was also sitting at the bar). I was told by both people that I couldn't swop the drink because "that is the way it is served". I had the distinct impression that they were trying to get rid of the cider - in retrospect I had noticed the cask sitting on the bar counter for months. I was disappointed to be treated that way - I am of the opinion that if the customer is not happy then the vendor should take reasonable steps to address this. A had a reasonable case to be offered a substitute pint. The result? I will not be going to the Hobgoblin again and will warn friends and acquaintances against going there. Not what could be described as a marketing coup for the landlord! The lesson for other landlords? Offer customers good service otherwise they will not return to your pub. By saving the cost of one pint the Hobgoblin has lost a share of my disposable income - forever.
anonymous - 16 Aug 2005 17:07
Brill pub & brill beer, love the fact its so different.
sharp_glass - 18 Jul 2005 14:49
Stumbled across this place by chance, with a real-ale fanatic friend and girlfriends in tow. Four people crammed in a booth the size of a telephone box drinking some smashing real ales - absolute heaven. Great atmosphere, great beer - wish I lived near!
DanielJudeCook - 6 May 2005 00:02
Being a West Ham supporter from Norway I had the pleasure of visiting this pub some hours before the match between Reading and West Ham on the 12th March 2005. Hobgoblin turned out to be a beer drinkerís nirvana. The choice of hand-pulled real ales were amazing. There were at least nine beers on cask. The pub, situated in the very centre of Reading, had a cosy atmosphere decorated with pump clips, beer mats and other beer-related materials all over the place. In one of the many small wooden rooms, me and my friends tasted beers from West Berkshire Brewery, Gales, Steaminí Billy Brewing, The Moor Beer Company, Spinning Dog Brewery, not to mention a beer called Old Jockstrap Stout. We could drink the well kept beers to gothic music, among others some classic tunes from the Sisters of Mercy. At this particular Saturday afternoon the enjoyment came at this pub and definitely not from what we saw of the Hammers on the Madejski stadium.
rune - 4 May 2005 07:13
I was in reading the other day and was introducted to this bar, Absolutly fantastic, the beer! oh yes! THE BEER!
Friendly locals, and a good laugh all round!
I shall have to come back soon!

Cheers Rob!

Turbo - 5 Apr 2005 12:55
A great place, i can't really mark it down, if i was being (very) pedantic you could say the loos being kind, but great ales and a good atmosphere, unique decor as well !
DaveNez - 21 Mar 2005 01:42
Absolutely the best pub ever. How come it only gets an average of 6.5/10? Excellent beer/staff/music/atmosphere especially when someone's mobile goes off-superb!
LoopyLu - 14 Mar 2005 17:54
The best pub in Reading without doubt.
If I had to make any criticism, it would be that there are sometimes too many barrels getting in the way in the bar area - but they are only in the way because the pub is so popular because it so good!
BinBagBob - 13 Feb 2005 10:44
THE Best Pub in Reading,
it has been run by a variety of landlords and they all seem to have added to it.
An excellent local
TeeeCeee - 19 Jan 2005 20:04
This establishment elevates Reading from just bearable to a (semi-)regular watering hole - and having Mead available doesn't harm in the slightest.
magus42 - 31 Dec 2004 07:34
It doesn't get much better than this!I agree with all the good comments below.A must visit!!
TonyAle - 27 Dec 2004 11:37
Amazing in every respect! Outstanding choice of great real ale, but cider and perry drinkers won't go thirsty either. Sensible policy of banning mobile phones. This is beer Nirvana!
coder_joe - 1 Dec 2004 21:02
This is what a pub should be... real ale, real music and no mobile phones.
Kevin - 19 Nov 2004 10:47
One of Readings best pubs. They always have great Ales in.
Riggers - 16 Nov 2004 14:30
This pub makes shopping in Reading worthwhile. Nice selection of beers and really relaxed atmosphere.
jennie - 26 Sep 2004 12:28
Very interesting little place. Excellent if you're an unconverted lagerboy who needs to test his mettle. Good selection of local brews and the most brilliant decoration ever (beermats cover the cieling and walls, ALL different!)
Stuart - 5 Sep 2004 16:39
A beer festival all in its own right serving West berkshire beers and a fine selection of other real ales. About the best place, in my opinion, to find real ale in Reading !
Pauline Metcalf - 20 Jul 2004 12:55
when i left reading 8 years ago this pub was one of the things i missed most. recently returned to reading to live, and the hob was quite genuinly a deciding factor.. there just isn't enough time to drink in there as much as i'd like.. although i do quite often wind the barstaff up by not being able to make up my mind what to have. the beer is first class as is the atmosphere.. if you like quite frendly locals that is..
ade - 2 Jun 2004 17:16
I love thins pub. every time I'm back in Reading a visit here is a must..The vibe is laid back and very friendly; just what a proper pub should be! Lager drinkers may struggle, but there is always something new to try...Ive even converted some of my more, um, trend orientated, friends!!
Cassie - 27 May 2004 19:00
I used to come here to drink Wychwood beer. Does it still serve Wychwood. I stopped by in November and February and although the old advertising was in the bar, no Wychwood. What's going on????
Ev - 18 Apr 2004 14:34
What's happened to the landlord Paul H & Pam?
Does anyone know?
Does anyone care?
He was a Formula 1 fanatic & bshe knew her cider.
Qwop Tat - 4 Mar 2004 16:38
I've seldom visited this pub on my own and not fallen into conversation with someone or other - usually someone I've never met before. A constantly changing selection of real ales, music picked by the staff that doesn't assault the ears and seats outside on Broad Street for afternoon sun and people watching easily make this my favourite Reading pub - possibly favourite pub ever.
enile p snirkette - 14 Jan 2004 11:44
This is still an excellent pub, with a good range of high quality beer and very friendly customers. It used to stock a regularly changing country cider. This pub maintains excellent beer quality through a lot of management changes.

Jelly, the "real name" is the Cock Inn! See below from an ex-landlord.

Sorry to pour cold water on this otherwise very worthwhile campaign but the Hobgoblin/London Tavern has been a pub since the 16th century (built c1565) and its original name was The Cock Inn, being changed to London
Tavern (as I recall) around 1845. For quite a while in itís history it produced ginger beer commercially in the cellar of what is now the camera shop next door.

It is also perhaps worthy to note that I had permission from the CAMRA NE of the day (1993) to rename it The Campaign Arms, which it was to be until about a week prior to itís actual name change (hence the Campaign Arms
pub sign on the wall of the bar which never actually got hung up).

What's in a name anyway?
Premier Chat - 4 Dec 2003 13:14
If you are not 18 and not trying to pull - but just want a good tasting drink and congenial atsphere... this is your place. As a lone female drinker this is a comfortable place to go, and certainly has great beers and great bar staff. Another great thing here is that there is a real variety of people - unlike many of the 'youth-orientated' chain pubs.
If you ask a woman what she thinks of a pub, one of the first things she will mention is the state of the loos. I must admit that the loos here are basic... but for once, I JUST DON'T CARE!!!
ladylouise - 3 Dec 2003 20:07
Good selection of beers. Unusual interior, makes a nice change from the chain pubs. Unfortunately it succumbed to the fad of adopting theme, joke or twee pub names a few years ago. Its real name is actually The London Tavern. We have had some success in getting original pub names reinstated in this town; the former Rat & Parrott is now back to being The Coopers Arms and the Fez & Firkin is now The Turks (not quite back to The Turks Head yet, but hopefully it will be soon). The "Hobgoblin" is our next target, so watch this space...
Jelly - 28 Nov 2003 13:44
in a town that is rapidly drowning in larger pit stops, the hob is a sanctuary not just for the real ale. seldom crowded. quiet "booth" seating layout and a "no mobile phone policy" bliss.. a reason to not hate reading too much..
ched fastly - 14 Nov 2003 18:31
I've been in reading for 4 weeks, and have had 25 different ales from this pub so far. (Some have been quite awful, but thats the brewers fault).
This, is a great pub.
Robert Ashton - - 27 Oct 2003 09:02
Thanks to everyone that enjoys the Pub I try to do it for you.Rob
Rob - - 3 Sep 2003 03:31
Nice to see that the Perry is still going now Pam's joined the Job. An excellent pub with reasonably priced Beers. Is it still home to the Reading & Berks Sticker society?
Tim - 30 Jul 2003 19:17
I agree with "M". A proper pub ..
Monty - 30 Jul 2003 14:51
The best little "back street local" in the centre of town in the world. In fact the only thing I would not recommend is taking a Sh*t.
M - 30 Jul 2003 14:35
Great even though it is not quite what it was. Lots of good beer from all over the place. It's sold over 3500 different real ales in about 10 years. Hellfire. Only poor point is the rather claustrophic booths to the rear.
Simon - 11 Jun 2003 17:11
Excellent selection of quality beers (antithesis of the John Smiths / Carling / Fosters selection you get in chain pubs). Cosy rear booths with interesting wall messages. Outside bog!
Bob - 6 Jun 2003 15:58
I have found Paradise. More pubs like this one please!!
Ian A - 30 May 2003 11:22
I visited this pub when I was seconded to Reading. A very nice pub, I wish there was one like this where I live.
stuart - 17 Apr 2003 12:32
Quite simple, one of the best pubs in the world!
Karl - 27 Feb 2003 12:00
This is a real ale sweet shop with five guest beers changing virtually daily and once every three weeks they have draught perry. How rare is that nowadays!
SUPERSCOOPER - 11 Feb 2003 23:20
Loads of cool little alcoves and things. Budvar on tap always a plus, fruit machine so close to the door that you nearly fall outside when playing it not so good, but wouldn't affect me now anyway.
Darren - 8 Nov 2002 16:39

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