The Sun, 16 Castle St, Reading RG1 7RD.
All ‘information’ in this review is ‘accurate’ as of December 2016.
When it comes to historic pubs and the like, we’re found wanting just a tad here, aren’t we? True, the urinals in O’Neill’s are fairly ancient and it’s permanently 1968 in The Bugle, but for real history? You’d have to head to The Sun. This bugger dates back to the 13th Century…
Apparently it used to have a huge underground room which was used for overspill storage for the olde worlde gaol next next door. And even housed Napoleonic prisoners of war at one point (probably during the Napoleonic Wars). Apparently that room collapsed after a herd of circus elephants went mental down there just after the Second World War.
So, then. The Sun. It’s old. It’s a pub. But is it Shit or not Shit?
Location: Castle Street, opposite Public, down the street from The Horn. Just off St. Mary’s Butts.
Drink Selection: Nothing fancy, but most boxes are ticked. Amstel, Fosters, Kronenbourg, John Smiths, Strongbow, Symonds, Guinness and up to three guest ales. You’re know you’re in a proper pub when drinks deals are written on spiky little fluorescent cardboard signs and stuck to bottles of wall-mounted Malibu, don’t you?
Food: They were doing pizzas at one point, we’re not sure if that’s stil the case. If not and you get peckish, you can always nip a few doors down and grab a Sweeney Todd’s pie. Or just do what a real man does and stuff nuts into your mouth. *Cub Scouts flashback*
Beer Garden/Smoking Area: Smoke on the kerb outside or go out into the fairly big, if entirely concrete, back bit. There’s even a little on-site parking round there, which is a real boon to drink-drivers.
Punterwatch: Here’s the rub. The Sun’s a good old-fashioned boozer and, like we’re always boring on about, there aren’t enough of them in Reading. Especially in the town centre. It’s a drinker’s pub and it attracts a ‘certain type’ of customer. When we visited last the bloke at the fruit machine had ‘Jaydon’ tattooed on his neck. So you know what we’re getting at. It’s no Pheasant, but it’s not far off Queen’s Arms territory, punter-wise.
Events? Yup. Comedy (which, in our experience, is best avoided), gigs and karaoke.
Decor: Pub pubby pub-pub.
Carpet: Textbook. Pure pub. Ugly, dirty, thinning, sticky. Classic.
Price: Nice and cheap. Pints average in at about £3.75 a pop.
Visible Savory Snack Selection: Plenty of crisps on offer. And if you don’t like the flavour, you don’t have to swallow. Just have a lick and see if you like it. *further Cub Scouts flashbacks*
Pub Games: Aye – a couple of dart boards, a sexy well-maintained pool table, fruities and a quizzo. There used to be a billiards table, but it’s no more (RIP). For pool, you write your name down on the chalkboard and pray you lose. Only the alpha male you challenge may take the humiliation in front of his pack and any potential female mates badly and lash out.
Sports? Yessir. Only Sky, mind. No BT.
Jukey? A decent one. Though obviously, given the clientele, it’s wall to wall Oasis and Stone fucking Roses in there.
The Sun, then. A pub. A real pub. A traditional pub. A ‘proper’ pub. It’s got everything you want (booze, football, pool, darts, music…) and more (fairly shithouse punters). We like the place, but if dodgy geezers and shouting dimwits put you off having a drink somewhere, you might want to give The Sun a swerve. Otherwise, fill your boots/glasses.