The Shit & Not Shit Pubs of the Year!

Provided you’re reading this not long after we published it (December 2016), we’ll have been reviewing the Shit and Not Shit pubs of Reading for a shade over thirteen months. If you’re reading this in the future, please email us here in 2016 to let us know what it’s like (we really just want to know a few high odds sporting results and what sex robots are like).

Anyway, we’ve now reviewed almost fifty boozeholes in the great city  town of Reading. And figured we’re in pretty good shape to be able to speak with some authority on the subject of pubs round here. Despite the fact that we primarily use pub reviews as a platform to make crude jokes and don’t actually have a fucking clue about any of it.

Still, if those Real Ale Twats at CAMRA can dish out awards, then so can we. Speaking of which, they’ve just released their nominees for their Reading Pub of the Year…

CAMRA Reading

We’ve reviewed all but the Shinfield pub, because we’re bloody good like that. Click on the links to read each write up. Or don’t. It’s your computer/tablet/smartphone. Remember that next time you go clicking on any of those dubious ‘teen’ videos, eh?

That’s all well and good, but it’s a bit simplistic, innit? And all based around bloody ales. So we thought we’d hand out our own awards. Let’s do that. Now. Let’s award some awards to some pubs that deserve some awards in this, ‘The Shit & Not Shit Pubs in Reading Awards 2016!’


Shittest Reading Pub of the Year


The Pheasant – Backward spit n’ sawdust joint that’s part dicey Wild West saloon, part Eli Roth film, this place isn’t unwelcoming. But it is genuinely a little bit scary. They blast music out at 9,000 decibels and surely can’t be entirely legit. An experience, for sure. Just not a very nice one.
O’Neill’s – Tired, old, lifeless, Irish and stinks of piss. No, not Daniel O’Donnell. O’Neill’s. It’s just awful. This place is in serious need of a refit. Still. Like it has been for the past decade.
The Castle Tap – The antithesis of ‘The Pub’. Cold, sterile, joyless and depressing. It’s too bright, too uncomfortable, too up its own arse (or ‘derriere’ as it’d probably say – if ‘craft beer pubs’ could talk). The beer selection is bloody great, mind.
Alto Lounge – Middle class mum sanctuary, this place is just a coffee shop with a booze licence. Beers are frequently off, staff are generally clueless and the food is more miss than hit. Beers haven’t changed in years and nor has our hatred of the place.

And the winner is… The Castle Tap!
Runner-up? Alto Lounge

That’s right. We’ve awarded a pub which we even admit has ‘bloody great’ beers as our Shittest Pub of the Year. Because we play by our own fucking rules here, MATE.


Least Shit Reading Pub of the Year

Clifton Arms

The Eldon Arms – A CAMRA nod to The Eldon this year is nice and not undeserved. Especially lively and worth visiting when there’s live music on.
The Turks – A big, loud fun pub that’s good for sports and gigs where ‘a few pints’ always seem to turn into a session.
The Greyfriar – A new pub on the Reading landscape really, this place does a brisk trade and walks the line of ‘new pub’ perfectly. It’s always got top new beers and a thousand gins, feels modern and fresh without feeling wanky or pretentious.
The Nag’s Head – Pub experiences don’t get a lot better than a few weird high strength beers down the Nag’s. Warm and cosy, you get yourself by the fire on a winter’s day when it’s pissing it down outside and you’re set.
The Clifton Arms – A real pub, a proper pub. It doesn’t have the best beer selection in the world. But it has locals, proper landlords, a blaring jukebox, a weird football-themed pool room and a pub dog. This is what pubs are all about, people.
The Prince of Wales – We’re yet to review it, but what a great boozer. Caversham’s a bit spoilt for good drinkeries and this has it all. Including, for our money, the best beer garden around.

And the winner is… The Clifton Arms!
Runner-up? The Greyfriar

It may not be the most modern or the snazziest place on the list and it might not have the best drinks selection. But being a sniffy bore about booze and light fittings isn’t what a public house is all about. Plus – PUB DOG…

Clifton Arms


Least Shit ‘Non-Pub’ Reading Boozer of the Year

Ice House

Up the Junction – The kind of late-night bar we should have more of. Friendly, welcoming, familiar. And, above all, open bloody late. It might not have much competition, but it’s the best bar in town.
Bierhaus – Part bar, part restaurant, it’s German. So you can make plenty of off-colour jokes when you’re in there. But above all, it’s interesting, independent and nicely done. Oh, and the beer and food’s good too.
Reading Railway Club – Social clubs and working men’s club are a dying thing. Which is a shame. You don’t need to be a member to drop in and have a drink here and we’d recommend you give it a dart.
Ice House – It’s a student place, but everyone’s welcome. And it’s bloody great. Pool, cocktails, cocktail classes… There’s even a weird little cinema in there. This is no regular shitty student union.

And the winner is… Up the Junction!
Runner-up? Ice House 

When the clocks strike Midnight, there’s no better place to carry on your session than Up the Junction. Plus the name kind of sounds like a slang term for anal sex. A bit.


Stupidest Fucking Gimmick of the Year

Public Reading

Public – Like board games? Enjoy £5 pints? Enjoy board games? Drink £10 cocktails? And how do you feel about board games? Pubs and bars can have games. Heck, we’d even encourage it. But pubs and bars shouldn’t be themed around games. And their dart boards are a fucking disgrace (see above).
The Biscuit Tin – It’s alright in there. But it’s a big metal box that looks like it should be sat in a container yard in Rotterdam, not next to a £1bn train station. And those ‘pop-up’ efforts opposite have all been toss so far.
Smash – Like ping pong? Enjoy £5 bottles of beer? Play ping pong? Drink £7 rums? And how about ping pong, do you like that? If so, you’re in luck. We assumed table tennis was a game for young offenders and bored people in crap hotels in Tenerife, but apparently not.

And the winner is… Smash !
Runner-up? Public

Ping pong in a bar is just stupid. Not everyone likes getting hit in the face with the balls of a random stranger as much as your mum.


The Trooper Potts Award For Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Reading Pub Shittiness:

Trooper Potts

The Trooper Potts! 2016 will always be known in Reading as the year that the Whitley superpub The Pooper Trotts disgraced us with its opening. A vile aircraft hangar of warm Carlsberg and undercooked fajitas, you have to experience it to believe it. But you really, really don’t want to experience it. It’s like if Blackpool were a pub. But worse.

So, there you have it. Awards. And you didn’t even have to rent a tux or get your hair done for it. It’s all meaningless, of course. But then that’s life, isn’t it? One big waste of time permeated by incidents we arbitrarily allocate meaning to.

That said, Merry Christmas, everyone!