Campaign for Real Ale

News

  • Obituary: Dave McKerchar Tuesday 12 May 2020

    Dave McKerchar David 'Dave Mack' McKerchar, a CAMRA stalwart at local, regional and national level, sadly passed away in early April at the age of 71.

    One of the many fired-up in the early 70’s by the neglect of traditional ale, he remembered that you had to take your chances that beer on a hand pump really was real ale and not keg beer;

    “You asked the landlord how his beer was sold.” Dave said. “If he didn’t tell you, you didn’t drink there. If he told you and chatted about his beer, then you knew you were on to a good landlord…if it didn’t make you fart or belch, it was good enough to drink!”

    Dave was a very early CAMRA member, joining the Campaign in 1973 and was membership number 376 and thought “this drinking thing” sounded like a good idea.

    He subsequently threw himself into CAMRA. Amongst many achievements he;

    • was instrumental in setting up the South Oxfordshire branch of CAMRA
    • served on the CAMRA National Executive between late 1977 - 1983
    • was Chairman for the 1983 National AGM Organising Committee
    • was instrumental in establishing the CAMRA Real Ale tent at the Woodcote Veteran Transport Rally - an event that continues to this day after almost 45 years
    • instituted the Thames Valley Drinker magazine in 1979 after this Branch stopped producing Newsletters. Dave single-handedly produced the two first editions; not just writing it but typing it, drawing cartoons and other artwork and getting it printed and distributed
    • was heavily involved in setting up the Reading Beer Festival, and was famous for predicting that cider would never sell; Reading Beer Festival of course became the national venue for CAMRA National Cider Champion judging

    Dave contributed many years to the Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA branch, joining as a committee member in 1988. An irascible character when the mood took him, Dave holds a place in Reading, and possibly all CAMRA branch history, by being the only person to ever walk out of a meeting they were chairing! Another story is relayed by John Dearing; “On one occasion Dave came storming into a branch meeting and shouted in his broadest Scots; “Whooo was responsible for putting the Royal Oak at Shinfield into the GBG?” Someone who shall remain nameless admitted to being the guilty party. Dave responded; “You bloody fool! They’re on blanket pressure!” and out he stormed!”

    He was a well-known face in the well-regarded ale outlets of Reading; indeed he even spent a few years after retirement doing bar work in the Nags Head in Russell Street. One evening he gave chase to two teenagers who had stolen a glass from the pub and, belying the age and weight gap between he and they, apprehended them at the top of the street.

    Outside of CAMRA, Dave worked in the Courage Architects' Department based in Castle Street, Reading, where he helped to design pubs. Paul Geehan recalls;

    "There were many times when we would meet up and walk along the Kennet to one of the many pubs along that river for a lunchtime session. Dave knew most of the landlords and tenants and there would always be good conversation about pubs, beers and people; he was the sort of person who made friends easily, but he had the gift of persuasion because he combined authority and knowledge with a pleasant manner."

    After Courage got out of running pubs, Dave worked freelance for a number of years and was engaged in designing a number of the Tap & Spile chain. He then joined Morlands (shortly thereafter to become Greene King) in 1997 - they told him there was a conflict of interests in his carrying on with chairing Reading CAMRA and he was told that he had to stand down! Despite his obviously Scottish roots Dave was also a keen supporter of Reading FC and followed them avidly around the country, allowing him to drink great beer in great pubs around the UK as a happy consequence. He was one of those rare people who could tell you, instantly, the best pubs to drink at in almost any given town or city.

    Dave is survived by his wife, Ann.

  • How to keep it LocAle during lockdown Friday 17 April 2020

    Thanks very much to our very own Zoë Andrews for these brilliant articles on how to keep supporting local breweries and getting tasty beer during the lockdown:

    https://zoeonpop.wordpress.com/2020/04/17/how-to-keep-it-locale-during-lockdown/

    https://zoeonpop.wordpress.com/2020/04/24/keeping-it-locale-in-lockdown-part-two

  • Gala Awards Night 2019 Saturday 26 October 2019

    The Reading & Mid Berkshire Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) celebrated the best of the region’s pubs, beers and volunteers at their annual Gala Awards evening on 18th September at the Castle Tap, Reading.

    This year’s gala awards had the following themes:

    • National awards
    • Pub awards (Pub of the Year and other specific pub awards)
    • Celebrating a number of long-standing branch volunteers
    • Champion Beers of the Reading Beer Festival 2019

    Among the highlights;

    The Nags Head in Reading celebrated another Pub of the Year win (as well as making the last 16 nationally of CAMRA’s Pub of the Year’ competition)

    Seona MacKenzie, licensee of the Clifton Arms in Caversham, received a special award for long service (35 years)

    Bingham’s Brewery basked in the glory of winning Gold in the ‘Specialty Beer’ category at the Great British Beer Festival, for their Vanilla Stout

    Over 150 years of collective volunteering for the Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA branch was honoured, with special awards presented to Laurence Hansford, Dave McKerchar and John Dearing

    Reading CAMRA branch Chair, James Moore, said;

    “The Gala Awards evening is a brilliant opportunity for the local pub, beer and cider community to get together and celebrate the work they do in an industry that entails long hours and hard work to bring the best experience to the people of Reading. Having both a local brewery and pub receiving national recognition this year is fantastic and a real testament to the range and quality of pubs and brews produced locally.”

    “I’m also especially proud that this year we focused on our volunteers, with some outstanding individuals being recognized for their years of dedication.”

    The Reading & Mid Berkshire Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) will be celebrating the best of the region’s pubs, beers and volunteers at their annual Gala Awards evening on 18th September.
  • LocAle Beers of the Festival 2019 Tuesday 7 May 2019

    Reading Beer Festival - Local Beers of the Festival 2019

    Beers below 4.2% abv

    Winner: Elusive Happiness Dragon

    Runner up: Indigenous Silly Moo

    Beers from 4.2% to 4.9% abv

    Winner: Loddon Ferryman’s Gold

    Runner up: Reunion Beard Tongue

    Beers 5.0% and above

    Winner: Siren Craft Broken Dream

    Runner up: Elusive Morrisman

    Overall Local Beers of the Festival

    Gold: Indigenous Silly Moo

    Silver: Siren Craft Broken Dream

    Bronze: Elusive Morrisman

    Local Key Keg Beer of the Festival

    Winner: New Wharf DIPA

    Announcing our LocAle beer winners of 2019...
  • Reading Ale Trail returns for 2019 Tuesday 5 February 2019

    Ale and cider drinkers across Reading and Berkshire will be gearing up for nearly 8 weeks of imbibing and sticker collecting fun this week. The Reading & Mid Berkshire branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) will be launching its eighteenth annual Ale Trail on Saturday 9th February at midday the Allied Arms. Not only is it a regular feature in the Campaign’s calendar in the run up to the Reading Beer & Cider Festival, it is also recognised nationally as one of the most successful ale trails in the country!

    The aim of the Ale Trail is straightforward – simply visit 24 of the pubs, buying a half or a pint of real ale or real cider and collect the sticker from the bar in exchange. Stick in the leaflet and, when done, send it through to the designated address in order to claim prizes, either a t-shirt or a number of beer tokens for the forthcoming Reading Beer & Cider Festival. The festival is as usual in the run up to the Spring Bank Holiday, this year 2nd to 5th May.

    Reading CAMRA branch Chair, James Moore, said; “One of the key objectives of organising the Trail is to encourage people to visit pubs that they might not otherwise visit. Well-run pubs play a pivotal role in local communities, but more and more are under threat from closure. Promoting and protecting pubs is a core national CAMRA campaign and the Trail is a fun way for everyone to get involved.”

    Ale Trail organiser, Brian Jones, said; “As usual, there is a list of 24 pubs, several of which we expect people may be unfamiliar with, as well as a selection of the stalwart pubs ale drinkers would immediately recognise – there’s something for everybody! This year we have a guest pub from outside our branch, the Rowbarge in Woolhampton. It won its local CAMRA branch’s Pub of the Year, so Reading drinkers have another great reason to visit!”

    Ale and cider drinkers across Reading and Berkshire will be gearing up for nearly 8 weeks of imbibing and sticker collecting fun this week.
  • Gala Presentation Evening a success! Tuesday 9 October 2018

    Thirty five years of being a pub licensee – that’s outstanding. That pub’s innovative expansion and investment in their future – that’s really noteworthy. That volunteer’s dedication of time and effort to the CAMRA cause – that needs celebrating. The number of years the owners of that pub have had it mothballed – that needs publicising.

    In 2015 the Reading & Mid Berks Branch of CAMRA decided to expand their certificate presentations from the usual Pub / Club of the Year winners and runners up, to recognise a wider group of the best pubs in the branch. Rather than just add a string of annual awards, we decided to look for the occasional or even one-off achievement to celebrate.

    That year we commemorated the return to a healthy life, of a pub that had been dead, with a Phoenix Award and also celebrated the achievement of a first time licensee, turning a national brewery pub into a flourishing freehouse. The following year we recognised three pubs who had collaborated to run a community music weekend. There followed Outstanding Refurbishment, Outstanding Redevelopment awards along with long service awards.

    Continuing the themes for 2018, plans included an “Outstanding support and promotion of LocAle”, when a rather different award was suggested. The Lower Ship Inn in Reading town centre has been boarded up since sometime in the 1980s. With an estimated 18 pubs closing a week, an organisation sitting on an empty pub, this needed highlighting. So the Awards Working party proposed to the branch an award to Sam Smiths, for having the “Longest closed pub for no good reason”. It was approved and when mentioned at the regional meeting it generated considerable interest and support.

    With the increase in awards - we now award a certificate to each finalist for our Pub of the Year - and bringing those together with awarding certificates for the Local Beers of the Reading Beer & Cider Festival, we’d inaugurated a Gala Presentation Evening. So this September the table of certificates including one to recognise, what at least from our knowledge, is the record number of years that a pub’s owner have kept its licence running, but its doors closed. Unsurprisingly, Sam Smiths did not attend, or even reply to our invitation to collect the certificate. It looks like we now need try harder to see that they don’t miss out on receiving the certificate for this unique award.

    Our annual awards evening was again a hit.
  • Nag's Head reaches last 16 Tuesday 9 October 2018

    We're delighted that The Nags Head in Reading has won the 2018 Central Southern Regional Pub of the Year, taking them into the last 16 pubs in the UK in the national competition.

    Regional Pub of the Year 2018.

    Wins 2018 Central Southern Regional Pub of the Year
  • Retreat to be closed for a short while Saturday 6 October 2018

    The Retreat will close at 19:00 on Sun 14th Oct and reopen on Fri 26th Oct. This is for Cellar Refurbishments and some other work on the pub.

    The Retreat will close at 19:00 on Sun 14th Oct and reopen on Fri 26th Oct. This is for Cellar Refurbishments and some other work on the pub.
  • 2018 Ale Trail pubs announced! Saturday 27 January 2018

    The Reading & Mid Berks branch of The Campaign for Real Ale – CAMRA – are pleased to announce the names of the 24 pubs that will take part in the 2018 Ale Trail.

    Brian Jones, the Ale Trail Co-ordinator said that “Choosing the pubs is never an easy task, but is helped by having established guidelines for the selection process. We have to include the finalists for our upcoming Pub of the Year competition, and ensure that at least a third of the pubs were not on last year’s Trail. We try to keep a balance between town centre, suburban and rural pubs, as well as including pubs that are developing their offer, but not yet sufficiently established to go in the Good Beer Guide. At least 18 of the pubs will be accessible by public transport and those also offering real cider are given a positive bias. We also try to cluster pubs so that travel by public transport, car or bicycle is easier.”

    Brian’s final point is borne out by the inclusion Bird in Hand in Henley, which is the South Oxfordshire branch of CAMRA, but relatively close to the Flower Pot at Aston, which is in the R&MB branch. This year in fact just over half the pubs were not in the 2017 trail and six, including The Flower Pot, have never before been on the trail. Another completely new entry is the Black Boy, Shinfield, which suffered months of disturbance due to the new road bridge over the M4, but is now giving real ale a push in its refurbished bars.

    The full list, in alphabetic order, is:

    The Bell, Waltham St Lawrence
    The Bell & Bottle, Shinfield
    The Bird in Hand, Henley
    The Biscuit Tin, Reading
    The Black Boy, Shinfield
    The Black Horse, Emmer Green
    The Bull, Theale
    The Castle Tap, Reading
    The Eldon Arms, Reading
    The Flower Pot, Aston
    The Foresters Arms, Reading
    The Fox & Hounds, Caversham
    The Fox & Hounds, Theale
    The Fox & Hounds, Tilehurst
    The Good Companions, Woodley
    The Greyfriar, Reading
    The Nags Head, Reading
    The Packhorse, Mapledurham
    Park House, Reading
    The Prince of Wales, Caversham
    The Retreat, Reading
    The Shurlock Inn, Shurlock Row
    The Victoria, Tilehurst
    The Waggon & Horses, Twyford

    “It was only at the end meeting where the pubs were chosen, that the eight of us present realised we had three pubs with the same name”, reported Brian.

    The launch takes place on Saturday 11th February at noon in the Fox & Hounds, Caversham. Trailers then have nearly two months to complete the trail, so there’s no rush. Those completing 16 pubs get 3 half-pint vouchers for the Reading Beer & Cider Festival at the start of May. Those complete all 24 get 6 vouchers or one and a commemorative t-shirt, plus inclusion in a prize draw. The booklet for stickers has all the details.

    The Reading & Mid Berks branch of The Campaign for Real Ale – CAMRA – are pleased to announce the names of the 24 pubs that will take part in the 2018 Ale Trail...
  • Another year, Another Ale Trail.....Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA Launch their 2018 Ale Trail Wednesday 24 January 2018

    Saturday 10th February 2018 at 12.00 will see the launch of the Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA Ale Trail at the Fox & Hounds, Caversham. The Ale Trail is an annual event run by Reading & Mid Berks CAMRA to encourage people to explore some local pubs in the Reading area and publicise the forthcoming beer festival.

    This year 700 Ale Trail Booklets have been printed featuring 24 pubs. The task is simple: collect your Ale Trail Booklet then for each half pint of real ale or real cider (or a soft drink for designated drivers) you ask for a sticker.The 2018 Ale Trail Booklets will be available to purchase from the launch at the Fox & Hounds, and also at the Nags Head and the Retreat in Reading. The Booklet costs £1 which is refundable for those sending it in for a prize. You get a prize for 16 or more stickers.

    Ale Trailers will be taking part in what is one of CAMRA’s most successful Ale Trails in the country, which is now in its seventeenth year. Over the years well over one hundred pubs have taken part and the number of participants runs into the thousands.

    One of the main objectives in organising the trail is to encourage people to visit ‘good’ pubs that they might not otherwise visit. Since the first trail in 2002 pub goers in the area have seen many changes to local pubs and with several being closed down; converted or demolished it is good to see such a varied choice of cask ales in the remaining and the newer bars in and around Reading these days.

    When planning the Ale Trail, the CAMRA Branch aim to choose pubs which consistently serve good quality ale and cider – and always try to include a few pubs that Ale Trailers may not have visited before. Every year we hear about Ale Trailers who have made repeat visits to pubs they discovered on the Ale Trail......people visiting and using pubs is essential to keeping them open.

    CAMRA promotes 'quality' beers and one of the ways this is done is through their beer scoring system and the Ale Trail Booklet includes a 'Keeping Score' section for Ale Trailers to let the Branch know how good their ale was, which in turn helps keep the Branch up to date on where the highest quality beers can be found.

    The last two years’ Trails have included a Guest Pub from outside the Branch area, which has proved popular, so for 2018 two Guest Pubs have been included, the Bird in Hand in Henley and the Pack Horse in Mapledurham. Both are covered by CAMRA's South Oxon branch.

    This year’s Ale Trail also features three pubs called the Fox & Hounds. They are in the Fox & Hounds in Caversham, Theale and Tilehurst.

    The full list of pubs on the 2018 Reading and Mid Berkshire CAMRA Ale Trail will be announced at the launch next weekend.

    Read more at Ale Trail.

    Saturday 10th February 2018 at 12.00 will see the launch of the Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA Ale Trail...
  • New Lease of Life for Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA Tuesday 16 January 2018

    In late 2017 the Reading & Mid Berkshire Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) suffered a scare that could have seen the Branch fold due to a lack of members coming forward to fill key Committee posts.

    As explained by the outgoing Branch Chairman, Quinten Taylor.....to outsiders, the branch seemed to be ticking along nicely and doing its job well, but more and more of the work had been falling on fewer people and drastic action was needed. If key posts were not filled, the Branch would have to be wound up. The Regional Director of CAMRA, Carl Griffin, gave the Branch three months to try and fill the posts, or begin the process of dissolving the Branch.

    Crucially, the much loved annual Reading Beer & Cider Festival is formally part of the Reading & Mid Berkshire Branch’s activity and because of the way CAMRA operates, if the Branch was dissolved then the festival could not take place. This certainly focused the minds of those who support both the festival and CAMRA’s work in general. As a result, it was less than a month from the warning of doom, that the branch was able to fill the key posts.

    On Tuesday 16th January the final Committee post will be filled by Kate Martin who will become the Young Members Contact. She joins eight others who have not been on the Committee before.

    In late 2017 the Reading & Mid Berkshire Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) suffered a scare that could have seen the Branch fold due to a lack of members coming forward to fill key Committee posts...
  • The Branch is saved! Friday 8 December 2017

    We're very pleased to announce that at last night's Branch meeting, volunteers came forward to fill the key volunteer roles which means that the Branch is no longer at risk and our plans for 2018 such as the Beer Festival and the Ale Trail continue on as usual.

    We're very pleased to announce that at last night's Branch meeting, volunteers came forward to fill the key volunteer roles.
  • Urgent call for volunteers Thursday 16 November 2017

    The Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA branch held its AGM on Saturday 11th November. Unfortunately, this resulted in several positions remaining unfilled, including some very key ones. These are as follows:

    Committee roles

    (login to CAMRA website needed, which you will have received previously. Use https://password.camra.org.uk/ to reset it if you’ve forgotten):

    Chairman (see https://members.camra.org.uk/group/branch-chairman/general-role-information for role description)
    Vice Chairman
    Pub Campaigns (see https://members.camra.org.uk/group/branch-pub-campaigns-coordinator/role-information)

    Other roles

    Cider (https://members.camra.org.uk/group/branch-cider-representative)
    Clubs (https://members.camra.org.uk/group/branch-clubs-officer)
    LocAle Coordinator (https://members.camra.org.uk/group/branch-locale-coordinator)
    Press and Publicity (https://members.camra.org.uk/group/branch-press-and-publicity-officer)
    Public Affairs (https://members.camra.org.uk/group/branch-public-affairs-officer)
    Young members contact (https://members.camra.org.uk/group/branch-young-member-contact)

    Without the three key committee roles filled, the branch cannot function and cannot spend any money.

    This means that currently we cannot run either the Ale Trail or the Beer Festival and may mean that we cease to exist in 3 months time if nothing has changed.

    We have enough of a committee that we can rebuild but getting a Chairman is crucial. The Committee ultimately needs to consist of 8 different individuals so there is a need for 3 extra members. It is also possible to job-share in all roles!

    The next branch meeting will be focussed on "Saving the Branch". It will be held at the Foresters Arms (https://whatpub.com/pubs/REA/READIN0250/foresters-arms-reading) on Thursday 7th December at 8pm.

    It is crucial that people step forward if we are to continue. Please make an effort to attend the meeting at the Foresters and please reply direct to this email if you would be willing to stand for a role – we would be delighted to hear from you. You can also contact the outgoing Chair, Quinten Taylor, on 07887 424232 for all further information and questions.

    Regards,
    Carl Griffin (Regional Director)

    The future of your Reading & Mid Berks CAMRA branch is at stake
  • October is CAMRA's (the Campaign for Real Ale) National Cider and Perry Month Thursday 5 October 2017

    October is CAMRA's (the Campaign for Real Ale) National Cider and Perry Month and to celebrate, some CAMRA festivals are giving the spotlight to cider & perry!

    The cider-oriented month kicks off with the Robin Hood Beer and Cider Festival, 12th – 15th October, where the East Midlands Regional round of our National Cider and Perry Championships will be taking place. During the festival there will be more than 240 varieties of cider and perry and dedicated cider bars from the East Midlands and Wales for festival goers to enjoy.

    Then from the 13th – 15th of October we head over to the first Scarborough Real Ale, Cider & Arts Festival taking place at the Old Parcel Office in Scarborough Station. The festival will take place in conjunction with the Campaign for Real Art and will feature more than 60 different ciders, perries and real ales.

    From the 19th of October Sheffield Beer and Cider Festival will be hosted in the Kelham Island Museum. This historic building stands on a man made island in the heart of Sheffield. The festival will be spread around the museum including the upper gallery and a marquee outside.

    It's followed by the Norwich Beer Festival, 24th – 29th of October, taking place in St. Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls. This is where the East Anglia Regional round of our National Cider and Perry Championships takes place. There will be more than 70 East Anglian ciders and perries available.

    And ending the month of cider-oriented festivals is the Birmingham Beer and Cider Festival, kicking off on Thursday 27th of October. With more than 70 ciders available during the festival, this is a great way to kick off your Halloween weekend.

    Fancy somewhere more local? Check out our Local Pubs selling Real Cider or Perry.

    To celebrate, some CAMRA festivals are giving the spotlight to cider & perry!
  • Important info about our Gala Presentation Evening Monday 11 September 2017

    How would you like to meet people from some of the top pus and top breweries around here? Why not come to our Gala Presentation Evening on Thursday 21st September at the Bell & Bottle, Shinfield.

    Presentations will be made to various awards winners including:

    • The breweries of the winners of the local beers of the Reading Beer & Cider Festival awards
    • The finalists in the branch Club of the Year competition
    • The winners of the branch Pub of the Year, Cider Pub of the Year and Club of the Year
    • Those who the branch consider have made an outstanding contribution to supporting the aims and objectives of CAMRA

    In addition we are pleased to host the award to the Regional Pub of the Year and the Regional Cider Pub of the Year.

    The event will take place at the Bell & Bottle, 37 School Green, Shinfield. RG2 9EE.

    You are invited to arrive for 8.00 pm. Presentations will start just after 8.30 pm. There is a regular bus service, The Leopard, from central Reading to a short distance from the Bell & Bottle.

    Light refreshments will be served during the evening. There is ample parking either in the pub car park or across the road opposite Shinfield View Care Home.

    From Reading Station stop SA take the bus to to Hollow Lane (A327) Opposite School Green, Shinfield. Head across to A3349, Hyde End Road. The pub is opposite the green.

    Return buses from School Green to Reading Station.

    Hope to see you there.

    ...including a change of venue!
  • The Nag's Head does the Regional double! Monday 14 August 2017

    We're delighted to announce that The Nag's Head in Russell Street, Reading has won both the Regional Pub of the Year and Regional Cider Pub of the Year awards for 2017 from Central Southern CAMRA. Well done to all the team at The Nag's Head!

    Reading pub wins both Regional awards
  • CAMRA’s Manifesto for the 2017 General Election Monday 8 May 2017

    On the 8th of June, the UK will go to the polls for the General Election. We need your help to ensure Candidates in Reading and the surrounding area know how important beer and pubs are to you as a potential voter.

    CAMRA is asking General Election Candidates to pledge their support for Britain’s pub goers and beer drinkers by committing to do the following if elected:

    1. Beer - Celebrate and promote Britain’s 1,540 breweries

    2. Pubs - Support action to help pubs thrive

    3. Consumers - Represent the interests of pub goers, beer, cider and perry drinkers

    You can read CAMRA’s full manifesto here http://www.camra.org.uk/pledgeforpubs

    By working together in 2015, we persuaded 1,160 Candidates to pledge support for beer and pubs.

    As a result of this, we had 211 MPs who had promised to speak up in Parliament on our behalf. We need to make sure that beer and pubs stay at the top of the political agenda in the next five years. Please ask your local candidates to pledge for pubs by visiting http://www.camra.org.uk/pledgeforpubs

    Thinking of becoming more involved in the campaign and a CAMRA member? Take a look at our detailed election guidance at https://members.camra.org.uk/documents/10180/370622/2017-04-28+General+Election+Update+for+Branches.pdf/f93edbff-56ed-4eb0-8742-29eca5a82a6b?version=1.0

    On the 8th of June, the UK will go to the polls for the General Election. We need your help to ensure Candidates in Reading and the surrounding area know how important beer and pubs are to you as a potential voter.
  • Champion Cider and Perrys 2017 Monday 8 May 2017

    The Reading Beer & Cider Festival once again played host to the South of England Regional rounds and National final of the National Cider & Perry Championship. Local cider and perry producers came out extremely well.

    For our region the cider winner was Dorset Star’s Sunset, from Dorchester. The runner up was Salt Hill’s Autumn Gold from Slough in Berkshire, with third place going to Cranborne Chase’s Farmhouse Medium. The champion perry is quite near at hand – Mr Whitehead’s Midnight Special Perry down the road in Hampshire.

    The regional finals were held on the Friday of the festival and a day later they went forward to the national finals. Here the national Gold award went to Countryman’s Medium from Tavistock in Devon with our own Salt Hill Autumn Gold taking the Silver award. Bronze went to Gwatkin’s Captain Gwatkin’s Rum Cask from Abbeydore in Herefordshire. The Nemphett Cider Company from Oxleaze Farm, Nempnett Thrubwell, Nr Blagdon, Somerset produced the Gold award for Perry with Piglet’s Perry. Silver went to the Dumfriesshire Waulkmill Cider’s Mooseheid Perry and Bronze to the Gloucestershire based, Hartland Perry.

    Festival Cider Bar Manager and East Anglia Cider Coordinator, Chris Rouse, thanked the festival for hosting the judging and praised the judge’s dedication in the selection process. He hope to be presenting the award certificates to Greg Davies of Salt Hill Cider when he visits them on 13th May.

    The Reading Beer & Cider Festival once again played host to the South of England Regional rounds and National final of the National Cider & Perry Championship...
  • Champion Beer of Britain Regional Round results Friday 5 May 2017

    Champion Beers of Britain Results

    Best Bitters

    Beers judged

    Crafty Brewing Crafty One

    Eight Arch Parabolic Pale Ale

    Fullers London Pride

    Hook Norton Old Hooky

    Old Dairy Copper Top

    Sambrooks Junction

    Southwark Bermondsey Best

    Surrey Hills Shere Drop

    Results

    1st Old Dairy Copper Top

    2nd Hook Norton Old Hooky

    3rd Not allocated

    Real Ale in a Bottle – Dark

    Beers judged

    Dark Star Imperial Stout

    Hook Norton Double Stout Stout

    Old Dairy Silver Top Stout

    Vibrant Forest Black Oktober Stout

    Result

    1st Vibrant Forest Black Oktober

    2nd tieDark Star Imperial

    2nd tieHook Norton Double Stout

    Real Ale in a Bottle – Not Dark

    Beers judged

    Butts Barbus Barbus Golden Ale

    Fullers 1845 Strong Bitter

    Hepworth Prospect Organic Ale Golden Ale

    Hop Back Crop Circle Golden Ale

    Sambrooks No 5 Barley Wine

    Shepherd Neame 1698 Strong Bitter

    Results

    1st Fullers 1845

    2nd Sambrooks No 5

    3rd Hepworth Prospect Organic Ale

    From the 2017 Reading Beer and Cider Festival...
  • LocAle of the Festival 2017 Winners Friday 5 May 2017

    We're delighted to announce the LocAle of the Festival Winners 2017:

    OVERALL WINNER: Loose Cannon - Abingdon Bridge
    Silver: XT - XT13
    Bronze: Twickenham Fine Ales - Wolf of the Woods

    Beers below 4.2% abv WINNER: Siren Craft - Yu Lu
    Runner up: Loose Cannon - Abingdon Bridge

    Beers from 4.2% to 4.9% abv WINNER: Twickenham Fine Ale - Wolf of the Woods
    Runner-up: XT - XT13

    Beers 5.0% and above WINNER: Ascot Ales - Anastasia Exile Stout
    Runner-up: Uprising - Treason

  • Volunteer for the Reading Beer & Cider Festival 2017 Wednesday 22 March 2017

    Volunteers are needed for setup (Monday 24th April - Thusday 27th April), the Open days (27th April - 30th April), and Takedown (Bank Holiday Monday 1st May, plus Tuesday and Wednesday)

    More information and form at http://www.readingbeerfestival.org.uk/index.php/volunteering

    Staffing form now open...
  • Latest issue of Mine's a Pint out now! Monday 27 February 2017

    The latest edition (Issue 41) of our Branch Magazine, 'Mine's a Pint' is now available to read online at MAP Issue 41.

    Issue 41 of our Branch Magazine is now available to read online
  • Drinkers Toast Launch of the Reading CAMRA Ale Trail Monday 30 January 2017

    The Reading and Mid Berks branch of CAMRA is pleased to announce the launch of one of the most popular of its regular events, both with pubs and drinkers - the Ale Trail. The 2017 trail will be launched at The Alehouse from 11.00 - opening time at on Saturday 4th February. Trail booklets will be on sale there and throughout the two month period of the trail, and also at Castle Tap, and Nags Head in Reading, together with the Fox and Hounds in Caversham.

    Rich Croton, one of the organisers of the trail, said: “We run the ale trail every spring, to encourage people to visit and enjoy some of their local pubs and also to publicize the forthcoming Reading Beer and Cider Festival.”

    He continued: “It's a limited edition of 700 trail booklets, so make sure you get yours soon. Then the task is simple: work your way round the participating pubs. At each, buy a real ale or real cider (or a soft drink if you're a designated driver), and ask for a sticker. There are two months to complete the trail, so plenty of time to work out which is your favourite pub.”

    This year we will repeat the two-tier prize format. Everyone getting a sticker from all 24 pubs receives the main prize of either a T-shirt AND a half-pint beer festival voucher OR six half-pint beer festival vouchers, plus entry to the free draw. The second tier prize for completing 16 pubs get you three half-pint beer festival vouchers.

    The choice of which pubs to include is always a contentious challenge. Chosen pubs, all from in and around the Reading area, are expected to serve real ale in good condition at all times. Almost, but not all, of the pubs are accessible by public transport. The current Pub of the Year and Cider Pub of the Year are automatically included, then the organisers try to create a mix of new pubs and established favourites as well as creating a balance of pubs geographically. Half of the 2017 trail pubs weren’t on the trail in 2016 and five have never been on the trail since its start in 2002.

    Pubs cannot buy their way into the trail, as CAMRA pays for the production and printing of the Ale Trail. However, CAMRA is grateful to five of our local breweries and cider makers for sponsoring prizes for the free draw that those completing the trail are automatically entered in.

    All this is done with the objective of promoting CAMRA’s aim of supporting the public house as a focus of community life and developing people’s appreciation of traditional beers, ciders and perries as part of our national heritage and culture.

    The Reading and Mid Berks branch of CAMRA is pleased to announce the launch of one of the most popular of its regular events, both with pubs and drinkers - the Ale Trail.
  • Why I’m looking forward to Bournemouth 2017 Monday 30 January 2017

    This April, I will be joining CAMRA members from across the UK in the seaside resort of Bournemouth for CAMRA’s Members’ Weekend, which includes our National AGM and Conference.

    I have been attending the CAMRA Members’ Weekend for almost 30 years, well before I was active nationally, never mind National Chairman. Those of you who were in Norwich in 2013 may remember that I still have my glass from my first AGM weekend, as they were then called, in Norwich in 1990. Even prior to becoming Chairman, I always made an effort to travel to whichever corner of the country the weekend was held and have only missed one since then - and was even organiser in Edinburgh in 1998. It has always been, and still is, an opportunity to meet with old friends, make new acquaintances and socialise with other CAMRA members from across the country.

    Most importantly, the Members’ Weekend is a fantastic opportunity for any member across the organisation – whether you have just joined, been a member for 20+ years, active or inactive – to shape the future direction and purpose of CAMRA.

    As Chairman, I now have the great responsibility of making sure that the AGM and Conference part of the Members’ Weekend is run successfully and open to every single one of our 185,000 members. This year, that responsibility is even greater than ever before.

    Following 50 consultation meetings across the UK and three national surveys, we have now seen the proposals that were put forward by the Revitalisation Project Steering Committee on CAMRA’s future. Whether you agree or disagree with the proposals, took part in the consultation events or stayed at home, the Members’ Weekend will be the opportunity to discuss them inside and out ahead of a decision next year.

    Over the weekend, members will be able to consider the Revitalisation Project and proposals on the future of CAMRA in a series of discussion groups. It will be your chance to have a say on the Revitalisation Project’s findings and represent your views in the debate. A final decision on the proposals will then be taken at the Members’ Weekend in 2018.

    I am proud to chair an organisation that is a true democracy – where every member has the opportunity to feed into our policies, direction and future. I never forget that without our huge membership base and dedicated volunteers; there simply would not be a CAMRA.

    I hope you will consider joining us in Bournemouth this year. The closing date for registration is Friday 17th March 2017. For more information simply visit camraagm.org.uk.

    Thanks

    Colin Valentine
    CAMRA Chairman

    From our national Chairman, Colin Valentine...
  • Pub of the Year 2017 voting now open! Wednesday 16 November 2016

    Voting for the Pub of the Year is now open. This year we’d like as many people as possible to vote, so we’re giving you a lot more time in which to complete your surveys and have also tried to make it as simple as possible to vote.

    There are two ways to vote:

    If you decide to vote via our online form you can submit more than one form per pub as the scores will be condensed after the deadline has passed.

    You must be a CAMRA member and need to visit and score every pub for your votes to count, and you are welcome to score any of the pubs more than once – particularly if you ratings are significantly different on different visits. Multiple votes will be compressed to form an average once the voting has closed.

    Voting is open now and the deadline for forms and votes to be received is 28th February 2017.

    The Pub of the Year six finalists are:

    Alehouse, Reading
    Bell & Bottle, Shinfield
    Weather Station, Reading
    Fox & Hounds, Caversham
    Greyfriar, Reading
    Nags Head, Reading

    You can find more information at Pub of the Year

    Voting for the Pub of the Year is now open
  • Launch of Third Revitalisation Project Consultation Survey Friday 4 November 2016

    At the end of October, and the beginning of November all members have been invited to take part in a third Revitalisation Project Consultation Survey. This survey will be the last carried out the Revitalisation Programme Committee, and this is your final opportunity to have a say on CAMRA’s future and influence the proposals which are currently being compiled by the Committee. By responding to this final survey, you will assist the Committee as the make their final refinements to the proposals which will be presented to the National Executive in December 2016.

    To date over 20,000 members completed the initial survey, 8,000 the second survey and more than 1,500 members have attended the 50 consultation meetings held across the UK, to make their views known. The results from the first two surveys, together with views made at the consultation meetings have shown members hold a wide range of opinions on who CAMRA should represent and how it should go about representing its members.

    Throughout this process the views of you, our members, have been vital and they will continue to be. The information you have/will have given by completing the survey will assist the committee finalise their proposals.

    You can complete the third survey at http://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/CAMRARPSurvey3

  • Request for volunteers interested in taste panels Sunday 16 October 2016

    We are looking for volunteers to join our network of tasting panels. No previous experience is required as full training is given. If you are interested please send the information at the bottom of this page, summarising your skills and return to ku.gro.armac@sreetnulovpt. You can use the same email address to ask any questions you might have about tasting panels.

    CAMRA’s tasting panels play an important role within the Campaign. Primarily, they taste beers in their locality to develop the tasting notes for beers in the Brewery section of the Good Beer Guide. Being a trained taste panellist is also a stepping stone to getting involved as a judge at regional and national Champion Beer of Britain (CBOB) events. Being a regional or national CBOB judge is a very important role in making the competition objective and enhancing its credibility.

    Taste panels are organised on a regional basis, with each region having a Taste Panel Co-ordinator. How each region organises its taste panels depends on a number of factors, including the number of tasters, the local geography, and the preferences of local branches. For example, some branches have their own tasting panel, and some are county-wide. Some branches and counties do not have active panels due to lack of members and/or lack of a chairman.

    If any member would like to become a taste panellist, chair a tasting panel, or even become a Regional Coordinator, then lack of experience is no barrier as full training is available. There are instances of members becoming Regional Coordinators with no prior experience after their initial training! So please send the below information and return to ku.gro.armac@sreetnulovpt

    ~
    Name
    Membership Number
    Contact Email
    Contact Telephone
    I would be interested in becoming a taste panellist Yes/No
    I would be interested in chairing a taste panel Yes/No

  • Revitalisation Consultation – summary of results of 2nd survey of members Saturday 8 October 2016

    A summary of the results of CAMRA’s second Revitalisation Project survey of members, conducted in August 2016 is now available online at:

    https://revitalisation.camra.org.uk/blog/revitalisation-project-stage-two-survey-results

    Michael Hardman (Chairman of the Revitalisation Project) said:

    “I’d like to thank all members who took the time to respond to our second consultation survey, which asked your view on where CAMRA should position itself in relation to the type of drink it advocates and the places it encourages people to drink. As always the views of you, CAMRA members, have been of great value in helping the Revitalisation Project steering committee construct detailed proposals to present to the National Executive ahead of the members having the final say.

    This second survey attracted 8,200 valid responses from members (following a process of removing duplicate responses and respondents whose membership we were not able to verify).

    We are confident this sample size is statistically robust, valid and representative of the views of the membership as a whole. This sample size gives us a confidence level of 99% and a 1.4% margin of error (against an industry standard of 95% confidence and 5% margin of error).

    In this second survey we also heard from a good balance of new and longer standing members, active and inactive members and older and younger members. The results show a broad unity of majority opinion across these groups.”

  • 2016 Champion Beer of Britain announced! Friday 12 August 2016

    We're delighted to announce that Bingham's Vanilla Stout, brewed in Twyford, was named the best beer of 2016 at the Champion Beer of Britain Awards Dinner held on Tuesday evening (9 August) at the Hilton Hotel, Olympia, London.

    The award comes after almost a year of local tasting panels and regional heats seeing the best beers across the UK invited to compete at the Great British Beer Festival.

    Final judging for the competition was held at the huge beer festival which opened its doors to the public on August 9 and over the next week will see more than 50,000 people visiting Olympia in London to sample their choice of more than 900 beers, cider and perries – including the chance to try the nation's best beer.

    Bingham's Vanilla Stout is a 5 per cent Dark Stout infused with vanilla and dark malts to create a smooth and dark beer.

    CAMRA national director responsible for the Champion Beer of Britain Competition Nik Antona said: "This year all the judges commented on how high quality all the beers were in the final stages of the competition and what a wide range of styles and beers they had to try and choose between.

    "Bingham's Vanilla Stout is packed full of comforting flavours and I'm sure it will be a popular Champion Beer Choice. It's great to see a speciality beer win the award for the first time in the history of the competition and our congratulations go to the brewery."

    Want to find out more about Binghams, try their beer or go on a brewery tour? Visit http://www.binghams.co.uk/ for more information

    ...and it's one of our local breweries!
  • CAMRA Gala Presentation 2016 Tuesday 26 July 2016

    At CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, we always try to make a point of saying “well done” to pubs, breweries and people who’ve done something special. Last year the local Reading & Mid Berks branch of CAMRA decided to bring them all together at a Gala Presentation evening. There we made awards for not just the normal Pub and Club of the year and beers of the festival breweries, but also some special recognition certificates as well.

    Said Brian Jones, one of the event organisers, “The event last September at the Castle Tap was so successful, we’ve decided to repeat the occasion. This year the venue is The Eldon Arms who, with The Retreat, will be receiving a special Collaboration award for their jointly run Village Music Festival. The date set is Thursday 8th September and, from 8pm, publicans and brewers will be mixing with their public, ready to receive their awards.”

    A new award this year goes to The Bell at Aldworth. This comes from those who worked their way around the Ale Trail during February, April and March – their feedback making The Bell the Outstanding Pub of the 2016 Reading & Mid Berks Ale Trail.

    All CAMRA branches rely heavily on their local volunteers. This year the branch has decided to make an award to one volunteer who has given selflessly of his time to further the aims and objectives of the Campaign for Real Ale.

    The event is open to everybody and, with entry being free, it’s all set to be a great evening. The organisers hope that a good number of the nearly fourteen hundred local CAMRA members will join in the celebrations, and that all local pub-goers enjoy the chance to take part in this special event.

    Date: Thursday 8th September

    Time: 8pm

    Venue: Eldon Arms, 19 Eldon Terrace, Reading, RG1 4DX

  • Berkshire Pub of the Year - Get Involved! Wednesday 18 May 2016

    We welcome all CAMRA members to get involved in the Berkshire Pub of the Year competition. All Reading and Mid-Berkshire CAMRA members can vote but not for our own Pub of the Year, Fox & Hounds Caversham (the other 3 Berkshire CAMRA Branches can also not vote for their own Pub of the Year).

    The three pubs that you can vote for are:

    Berkshire South East: Queen's Head, Wokingham Slough, Windsor & Maidenhead: White Horse, Hedgerley West Berkshire: King Charles Tavern, Newbury

    The judging forms must be returned by Saturday 22nd June via e-mail : DARRENSTOCK@sky.com, text 07808802086 (snapshot of judging form) or by post to 47 Curlew Drive, Tilehurst, Reading, Berkshire. RG314TA

    Download the Judging Forms here - Berkshire POTY 2016 form

  • Have your say on the future of CAMRA Wednesday 18 May 2016

    CAMRA was born in 1971 as the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale.

    It had only four members for much of its first year. The 175 breweries in the United Kingdom were owned by 95 companies. Six of them produced around 80 per cent of the country’s beer and owned most of the pubs that sold it. These firms, known as the Big Six, were conspiring to ditch traditional draught beer in favour of processed and carbonated keg beer. Many of the smaller brewers were following them blindly.

    CAMRA’s activities over the decades that followed changed all that, including the name of our organisation, which became the Campaign for Real Ale in 1973. Today, we have more than 175,000 members. There are 1,500 breweries producing 11,000 beers. The vast majority of British pubs sell at least one real ale and in some cases a dozen or more.

    At the same time, the volume of real ale sold is considerably less than it was 40 years ago. Too much is served in poor condition as a result of low turnover or poor cellarmanship, problems that led to the rise of keg beer in the first place. Britain is losing 30 pubs a week as people turn to cheap supermarket alcohol at home.

    Pubs have lost customers as a result of government policies on taxation, on drinking and driving, and on smoking, and because of spurious advice on the effects of alcohol on health. If we lose our pubs, we shall have lost the very places that our national drink needs if it is to thrive.

    All of this has persuaded us to take stock of our activities to ensure that our campaigns are pitched at the right targets and based on the best tactics in the face of the unprecedented changes that have been taking place in the brewing industry and licensed trade.

    This is CAMRA’s Revitalisation Project, which has been set up to find new ways to breathe life into the Campaign. We are consulting all of you, the CAMRA members. The decision is in your hands.

    Reading will be hosting a Revitalisation Project meeting on Saturday 25th June, 2pm until 4pm at RISC. Sign up to attend and have your say here >

    All CAMRA and CAMRA-affiliated members welcome.

    This is CAMRA’s Revitalisation Project, which has been set up to find new ways to breathe life into the Campaign. We are consulting all of you, the CAMRA members. The decision is in your hands.
  • Champion Beer of Britain round at our beer festival Friday 6 May 2016

    Last weekend at the start of the 22nd Reading Beer and Cider Festival, a group of six dedicated drinkers were painstakingly comparing five of our region’s best porters. Their mission to choose a representative to go forward to the national Champion Beer of Britain final.

    Porters are a dark style of beer developed in London back in the 18th Century. They are made with firm roasted brown malt with a good balance of hops, giving them a fine aroma and a long finish. The judges assessed each in turn, scoring them for appearance, aroma, taste and aftertaste. The judging panel was made up of three publicans, one brewer and two local members of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. It is CAMRA that organises the Champion Beer of Britain competition and sponsorship the Reading Beer and Cider Festival.

    “It turned out to be a very difficult decision”, said Brian Jones, who had organised the judging. “The top two were very close and the judges took ages before they reached their final decision”.

    In the end, Vibrant Forest, a small microbrewery located on the edge of Lymington, took the first place with their Black Forest Porter. The runner-up was Bottle Wreck Porter from Hammerpot Brewery in Arundel. The Black Forest Porter will therefore represent the London and South East region of CAMRA in the finals at the Great British Beer Festival held from the 9th to 13th August in London’s Olympia. Bottle Wreck Porter will be the first reserve.

  • 2016 LocAle beers of Reading Beer Festival Friday 29 April 2016

    Beers below 4.2% abv

    Winner: Hogs Back - Surrey Nirvana
    Runner up: Aylesbury - Daylight Moon

    Beers from 4.2% to 4.9% abv

    Winner: Vale - Gravitas
    Runner up: Windsor & Eton - Kohinoor IPA

    Beers 5.0% and above

    Winner: Wild Weather - Barrel Aged Mud Slinger
    Runner up: Indigenous- AMMO Belle

    Overall LocAle Beers of the Festival

    Gold: Indigenous - AMMO Belle
    Silver: Aylesbury - Daylight Moon
    Bronze: Windsor & Eton - Kohinoor IPA

    Announcing our winners...
  • Reading CAMRA slam Cask Marque report Wednesday 6 April 2016

    Reading and Mid-Berkshire CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) have today commented on the report from Cask Marque which reports that Reading has the worst pint in Britain. Commenting, Quinten Taylor, Vice-Chair said:

    "Our main bugbears are that the data in this report is not (and cannot) be accurate of the pub trade in Reading as a whole, as they (and unfortunately GetReading) report as the figures are based on pubs who are members of Cask Marque (which is a pay-to-join body, £170+vat) and that Vianet (Brulines - one of whose business interests is the sale to pubs of beer line minute equipment) have a product to sell. So the Nag's Head, Castle Tap, Alehouse, Fox & Hounds, Retreat, Fisherman's Cottage and Allied Arms beers are not included in these figures as they see no need to pay to join Cask Marque when they can look after their beer just fine. So as a % of gross total of ales sold in RG1 and RG4 that's quite a significant amount of unrecorded, excellent quality beer!

    "However that's not to dismiss the wider context of the report - that line cleaning and cellar quality are of utmost importance to all pubs and that by getting that right, pubs will serve better quality ales, get more customers and make more profit. We wholeheartedly agree with this and want all ale dispensed in Reading to be of the highest quality. Sadly that's been lost in the attempt of drumming up press.

    "Anyone who drank ale in Reading 10 years back will to a body say that things have improved enormously and that we more than compete with similar-sized towns in the UK when it comes to choice and quality.

    "An example of this is the Ale Trail which is organised by Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA - our yearly showcase of the established, the new and the changers in the Reading ale scene, which shows that far from being some sort of wasteland of grotty beer, Reading has a really good set of pubs serving excellent quality ale."

    Reading & Mid-Berkshire CAMRA hope that all press outlets and their readers will join with us in celebrating the great pub and beer scene we have in Reading to promote and be proud of what we have.

  • The Ale Trail rolls on! Tuesday 15 March 2016

    Reading's Ale Trail takes place over two months at the start of every year. This year's Trail started a month ago, but there's still plenty of time for people to join in. This year we have organised an Ale Trail Walk around the heart of Reading and Caversham, including several of the Ale Trail pubs. The walk will take place on Sunday 20th March, starting from the northern exit of Reading Station at noon. The walk is open to everyone so please feel free to join in.

    The Ale Trail is run every spring, to encourage people to visit and enjoy some of our local pubs, hopefully discovering some that they haven't tried before alongside several favourites. Nationally 27 pubs close for good every week. The Ale Trail highlights and lets people discover some of our community hubs and helps keep them open for everyone to enjoy in the future.

    There are 24 pubs around Berkshire participating in this year's Ale Trail. People take part by visiting these pubs and buying a pint or half-pint of real ale or real cider at each of them. They will be given a sticker to put in their Ale Trail booklet. Collecting all 24 stickers entitles participants to claim prizes of t-shirts and vouchers which can be used at this year's Reading Beer and Cider Festival. Anyone who only manages to collect 16 of the stickers will be able to claim a reduced number of vouchers. There is also a prize draw for people who complete the Ale Trail; with the prizes kindly donated by several local brewers.

    The Ale Trail booklets are limited to 700 copies; whilst many of them have already been taken up, there are still some available for people who want to give the Ale Trail a try. They can be obtained from The Fox & Hounds in Caversham, The Castle Tap, The Alehouse and The Nags Head in Reading.

    Still plenty of time to join in the fun.
  • Drinkers Toast Launch of the Reading CAMRA Ale Trail Wednesday 3 February 2016

    The Reading and Mid-Berks branch of CAMRA is pleased to announce the launch of one of the most popular of its regular events, both with pubs and drinkers - the Ale Trail. The 2016 trail will be launched at the Castle Tap, 120 Castle Street, Reading from opening time at noon on Saturday 6th February. Trail booklets will be on sale there and throughout the two month period of the trail, and also at The Alehouse and Nags Head in Reading, together with the Fox and Hounds in Caversham.

    Rich Croton, one of the organisers of the trail, said: “We run the ale trail every spring, to encourage people to visit and enjoy some of their local pubs and also to publicize the forthcoming Reading Beer and Cider Festival.”

    He continued: “It's a limited edition of 700 trail booklets, so make sure you get yours soon. Then the task is simple: work your way round the participating pubs. At each, buy a real ale or real cider (or a soft drink if you're a designated driver), and ask for a sticker. There are two months to complete the trail, so plenty of time to work out which is your favourite pub.”

    This year there is a two-tier prize format and the number of pubs has increased, from 21 last year, to 24. Everyone getting a sticker from all 24 pubs receives the main prize of either a T-shirt AND a half-pint beer festival voucher OR six half-pint beer festival vouchers, plus entry to the free draw. The second tier prize for completing 16 pubs gets you three half-pint beer festival vouchers.

    The choice of which pubs to include is always a contentious challenge. Chosen pubs, all from in and around the Reading area, are expected to serve real ale in good condition at all times. Almost, but not all, of the pubs are accessible by public transport. The current Pub of the Year and Cider Pub of the Year are automatically included, then the organisers try to create a mix of new pubs and established favourites as well as creating a balance of pubs geographically. Sixteen of the 2016 trail pubs weren’t on the trail in 2015 and four have never been on the trail since its start in 2002.

    Pubs cannot buy their way into the trail, as CAMRA pays for the production and printing of the Ale Trail. However, CAMRA is grateful to five of our local breweries and cider makers for sponsoring prizes for the free draw that those completing the trail are automatically entered in.

    All this is done with the objective of promoting CAMRA’s aim of supporting the public house as a focus of community life and developing people’s appreciation of traditional beers, ciders and perries as part of our national heritage and culture.

    More details of the trail are available at www.readingcamra.org.uk/aletrail.

  • New brewery in Wokingham - Bond Brews Saturday 9 January 2016

    Bond Brews brewery is owned by Dean Bond. It is a six barrel plant brewing three core ales all of which are cask conditioned and bottle conditioned. The three core ales are:

    Best of British a 4% best bitter Goldi-Hops a 3.9% Pale ale Railway Porter a 4.5% Porter.

    The beers have already appeared at The Alehouse Reading, The Bell at Waltham St Lawrence and the Royal Oak at Knowl Hill. Several other pubs in our area have agreed to take beer in the near future.

    The contacts for the brewery are: www.bondbrews.co.uk with twitter and facebook pages under bond brews. The address for the brewery is Unit 3&4 Gardeners Green Farm, Heathlands Road,Wokingham RG40 3AS, Telephone 01344 775450.

  • Reading Beer & Cider Festival is moving! Thursday 10 December 2015

    Reading Beer & Cider Festival announces new location for first time in 20 years

    Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA have today applied for permission to run the long-standing Reading Beer & Cider Festival on a new site for the 2016 event.

    The application submitted to Reading Council today seeks permission to hold the 22nd Festival at Christchurch Meadows in Caversham. This is the first time that the festival has changed location since 1996.

    Dave Scott, Festival Organiser, said "Christchurch Meadow is an excellent site for the festival, with a central location and good public transport links. We are excited to be able to continue this long running event in a new location, and hope to see many more people enjoying our beers and ciders there in April. Our intention is to run an event very similar to those held previously on Kings Meadow, but the geography of the new site should allow us to make some improvements to the customer experience that weren’t previously possible."

    The new site will be situated by the River Thames next to the pavilion on Christchurch Meadow, with easy access from both the Reading Bridge and the new foot and cycle bridge which opened in September.

    If the application is agreed, the festival will open from Thursday 28 April to Sunday 1 May 2016, offering customers a range of over 500 real ales and 150 ciders and perries from around the UK, as well as foreign beers, English wines and mead. The annual event regularly attracts over 13,000 visitors.

    Opening times and prices will be published in the coming weeks, and advance tickets will go on sale in the new year. For more information, visit the festival website (www.readingbeerfestival.org.uk) or follow on Facebook (readingbeerfest) or Twitter (@readingbeerfest).

    Press Release: RB&CF16 Location

    Reading Beer & Cider Festival announces new location for first time in 20 years
  • Christmas Gift Memberships Saturday 28 November 2015

    This Christmas why not get your loved one a one year CAMRA gift membership package; the package includes a monthly copy of the What’s Brewing newspaper, the quarterly BEER magazine and a discount on the best-selling CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2016.

    This is the kind of present that they will be able to use all year round and will be forever grateful to you. The membership will only become live when it is activated and will be valid for a year and the recipient will have a chance to renew the membership at the end of the year.

    The membership will give them 15% discount from National Express, £20 worth of Wetherspoons vouchers and discounts from some the UK’s best attractions such as Alton Towers, Legoland, Blackpool, Sealife and many more.

    See www.camra.org.uk/benefits for more information on the benefits of becoming a CAMRA member.

    There is a variety of packages available to suit the recipient. We have joint memberships, ideal for Christmas wedding packages, or maybe a gift from the kids to the grandparents. We also offer deals for under 26s which can also be brought as a gift.

    This Christmas why not get your loved one a one year CAMRA gift membership package?
  • Wargrave & District Snooker Club awarded Club of the Year Friday 6 November 2015

    Last night, former Reading & Mid-Berks CAMRA Chairman and local Wargrave resident John Robinson presented the certificate for Club of the Year to the Wargrave & District Snooker Club. It was received by Graham (Bar Manager), Steve (Chairman) and Mel (mentor and ex-Bar Manager).

    Shortly after the presentation, the Timothy Taylor Boltmaker ran out and, to celebrate the special occasion, we were treated to some Brakspear Special - which Graham had collected personally from The Bell Street Brewery in Henley. The Bell Street Brewery is a micro-brewery which sits within Brakspear's newly-redeveloped Bull on Bell Street pub.

    Those present all raised their glasses to the ten years of the club being named the Reading & Mid-Berks Branch of CAMRA’s Club of the Year. CAMRA members are welcome at the club bar which opens Monday to Friday evenings, 7 to 11.

    Photo of Wargrave Snooker Club being awarded the 2015 Reading & Mid-Berks CAMRA Club of the Year Award.

    The Club has the following beers planned for December 2015:

    Otter Winter Warmer 4.0%

    Tring Old Chestnut 4.2%

    Wadworth 6X 4.1%

    Franklins Mama Knows Best 4.1%

    Elgoods Cambridge 3.8%

    Rebellion Roasted Nuts 4.6%

    Adnams Shingle Shells 3.9%

    Banks Turkey Trauma 4.3%

    Wadworth Dray Bells 4.1%

    Penine Jingle Bell Rock 4.2%

    Black Sheep Blitzen 4.0%

    Winner of the Reading & Mid-Berks CAMRA 2015 Club of the Year Award.
  • Launch of Featured Pub section Monday 5 October 2015

    One of the branch’s 2015 objectives is to find ways to promote a wider variety of our pubs. One way, we decided was to have a featured pub (or group of pubs) on our website. This has now been launched, and the link has been added to the menu on the left of our web pages. We hope people find it interesting.

  • Gala Awards evening for our branch award winners Friday 11 September 2015

    News about an upcoming event...

    On the evening of Tuesday 29th September will celebrate some of the best of the wonderful selection of pubs in our branch - and some of the excellent beers that can be enjoyed in them. As well as a reprise of the presentation of the certificate to the Fox and Hounds in Caversham, our branch Pub of the Year, we will also present the certificates to the runner-up and other two finalists and potentially reprise the Cider Pub of the Year presentation. In addition the branch has agreed to make a special award for outstanding achievement to two pubs.

    Kay Wesnes of the Fisherman's Cottage will receive the Best Newcomer Award. She had never run a pub before when she took on the Fisherman's Cottage, but what she lacked in experience, she has made up for with enthusiasm supported by the sound business skills of the family operating company of herself, Keith Wesnes and Anna Wesnes.

    The Phoenix Award will go to the hosts for the evening, The Castle Tap. This award recognises the way they took on a dying pub and transformed it into a healthy vibrant venue for real ale and cider.

    Not content with celebrating our pubs, the breweries that won Local Beers of the Festival will be presented with their certificates. Gravitas from Vale Brewery won the overall best local beer of festival and will collect their certificate alongside those being presented to Binghams Brewery, Rebellion Brewery and a reprise presentation to the West Berkshire Brewery.

    The evening is not just open to CAMRA members. We look forward to welcoming anyone who enjoys a good beer and wants to show their support for the pubs that serve them, and breweries that produce them.

    The evening will celebrate some of the best of the wonderful selection of pubs in our branch - and some of the excellent beers that can be enjoyed in them.
  • CAMRA Berkshire County Winner 2015 Tuesday 8 September 2015

    We are pleased to announce that the "Queens Head" in Wokingham has been awarded the "CAMRA Berkshire County Winner 2015".

    The presentation to the Queens Head in Wokingham will take place on Wednesday 14 October from 7pm.

  • Oktoberwest - Saturday 19th September 2015 Friday 7 August 2015

    Oktoberwest 2015 at West Berkshire Brewery promises to be a fun, light-hearted event complete with live music and dancing. Relish the atmosphere while supping on the best real ales and craft beers and dining on traditional Bavarian fare and international street food. More information at http://www.wbbrew.com/oktoberwest/

    Oktoberwest 2015 promises to be a fun, light-hearted event complete with live music and dancing. Relish the atmosphere while supping on the best real ales and craft beers and dining on traditional Bavarian fare and international street food. More information at http://www.wbbrew.com/oktoberwest/
  • Hop Fest & The Fox and Hounds, Caversham Friday 15 May 2015

    To celebrate winning the Reading and Mid-Berks CAMRA Pub of the Year 2015, the Fox and Hounds in Caversham will be holding a beer festival celebrating all things hoppy.

    30+ of the hoppiest beers known to man. Plus loads of real cider and events. Beer list tbc.

    Starts Thursday at 6pm with their famous quiz and cheese and meat night. Friday all day with music from vinyl junkies. Saturday the main event. The pub will be receiving their award in the evening, but will have live acoustic music all day with two bands in the evening. All day BBQ with loads of stuff for the kiddies as well. Sunday is recovery day with an extra special fox roast offering. Some details and full poster coming soon.

    To celebrate winning the Reading and Mid-Berks CAMRA Pub of the Year 2015, the Fox and Hounds in Caversham will be holding a beer festival celebrating all things hoppy.
  • Reading Beer Festival - LocAle Beers of the Festival 2015 Tuesday 5 May 2015

    Beers below 4.2% abv

    Winner: West Berks - Maggs Magnificent Mild
    Runner up: Andwell - Gold Muddler

    Beers from 4.2% to 4.9% abv

    Winner: Rebellion - Zebedee
    Runner up: Vale - Gravitas

    Beers 5.0% and above

    Winner: Binghams - Macchiato Stout
    Runner up: Bellinger’s - Gallipoli

    Overall LocAle Beers of the Festival

    Gold: Vale - Gravitas
    Silver: Bellinger’s - Gallipoli
    Bronze: Binghams - Macchiato Stout

    LocAle Beers of Reading Beer Festival 2015 announced!
  • Very sad news Saturday 18 April 2015

    We're very saddened to report that Russ Wood passed away yesterday afternoon. RIP Russ, we miss you.

    We're very saddened to report that Russ Wood passed away yesterday afternoon. RIP Russ, we miss you.
  • 2016 Reading Beer & Cider Festival Organiser Wednesday 15 April 2015

    From Our Chair... Advance warning that a Beer Festival Organiser for the 2016 Reading Beer & Cider Festival will be co-opted at the 18th May CAMRA branch meeting at Binghams Brewery, Ruscombe. If you wish to run, make yourself known in the meeting or - if you can't attend - in advance via email moc.liamelgoog@ttesyenoh.c.nad - thanks.

    From Our Chair... Advance warning that a Beer Festival Organiser for the 2016 Reading Beer & Cider Festival will be co-opted...
  • Morris Men to visit The Crown at Swallowfield Tuesday 17 March 2015

    Yateley Morris Men (http://www.yateleymorrismen.org.uk) and a group called “Oh be joyful” will be at Crown to entertain on Tuesday the 16th June.

  • The Village - Easter Music and Real Ale Festival Tuesday 17 March 2015

    Over this coming Easter weekend three of Reading’s longtime favorite backstreet pubs will be hosting the Village Music & Ale Festival. Their enterprising landlords have banded together to create a celebration of community spirit, camaraderie, music and ale

    While mainstream media talks incessantly about the doom and gloom of Britain’s pub crisis examples of pubs bucking the trend go largely unreported. Among Reading’s numerous excellent music and ale venues the Eldon Arms, the Lyndhurst and the Retreat.

    The pubs are a short walk from one another in the Eldon Square Conservation Area, aka “The Village,” Reading’s oldest historic preservation area. The Village is located a short and pleasant walk along Kennet Side from Reading town centre (or a short bus ride).

    The idea behind the festival is to capitalize on the close proximity of the pubs to one another in their eminently walkable neighbourhood. By providing a destination event with wide appeal to both the local community and to a much wider area in and around Reading, more people will be enticed into the village, perhaps for the first time, local musicians gain exposure, and the pubs – the magnets for the whole enterprise – will further demonstrate their value as important community assets.

    The pubs will remain open until 11:30 pm on each day of the festival however being mindful of their place within a largely residential community the music program has been scheduled to end no later than 10:30 pm. This leaves plenty of time for festival goers to exit the area in an orderly fashion and to catch buses/trains in the town centre.

    Content gratefully reproduced from https://fueledbybeer.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/mark-your-calendars-village-easter-music-ale-festival/

    Over this coming Easter weekend three of Reading’s longtime favorite backstreet pubs will be hosting the Village Music & Ale Festival.
  • Pub of the Year 2015 Announced! Wednesday 11 March 2015

    We're pleased to announce that the Reading & Mid-Berkshire CAMRA Pub of the Year 2015 is... The Fox & Hounds, Caversham!

    Congratulations to Kevin, Kerri and staff. A well deserved victory.

    Runner-up was the previous holder - 5-in-a-row winner The Nags Head. Well done to both, plus the other two finalists, the Royal Oak in Tilehurst and The Alehouse!

    The Cider Pub of the Year 2015 is The Nags Head.

    We're pleased to announce that the Reading & Mid-Berkshire CAMRA Pub of the Year 2015 is...
  • CAMRA Members' Weekend and AGM Saturday 3 January 2015

    CAMRA's Members’ Weekend, featuring the National AGM and conference, will be taking place

    at the Albert Hall in Nottingham, on Friday 17th - Sunday 19th April 2015. Pre-registration to this event is now

    open and we hope that you will be able to make this key event in CAMRA’s calendar: www.camraagm.org.uk

    CAMRA's Members’ Weekend, featuring the National AGM and conference, will be taking place at the Albert Hall in Nottingham, on Friday 17th - Sunday 19th April 2015. Pre-registration to this event is now open and we hope that you will be able to make this key event in CAMRA’s calendar.
  • Champion Beer of Britain 2014 Winners Tuesday 12 August 2014

    The Champion Beer of Britain 2014 Overall winners have been announced!

    They are as follows:

    • Gold: Timothy Taylors, Boltmaker
    • Silver: Oakham, Citra
    • Bronze: Salopian, Darwin's Origin

    You can drink the Champion Beer of Britain, Timothy Taylor Boltmakers (AKA Best Bitter), at the wonderful Swan in Three Mile Cross where it has been a permanent beer for the past few years.

    Pop in and enjoy! And say hello to Vic and Jenny too, who have stewarded the pub for over 30 years.

  • Caversham Pub Crawl - 27 Sept Tuesday 5 August 2014

    Berkshire South East CAMRA are doing a pub crawl in Caversham and have invited Reading & Mid-Berkshire CAMRA members and friends along to enjoy the experience.

    Date: Saturday 27th September, 2014.
    Start: Noon

    The meeting place is the Greyfriar, a short walk from Reading Train Station. If you would like to join at a later stage, you can contact 07789 517 449 (text preferred) to find out where we are.

    VenueDetails
    Greyfriar
    53 Greyfriars Road,
    Reading, RG1 1PA
    website
    • Newly-opened craft beer outlet. Serving an ever changing variety of ales, lagers and ciders. Decor is London-esque, a bit minimalist for some tastes but there are still internal works ongoing so may get a little cosier in due course. Only a short walk from Reading Train Station.
    • Food is served from 12 Noon to 3pm (Mon to Fri).
    • On my last visit they were serving Dark Star Partridge Best Bitter, Bingham's Dana-Mite Blonde & Bingham's Coffee Stout.
    Crown
    3 Bridge Street,
    Caversham, RG4 8AA
    website
    • The Crown on the Bridge was rebuilt in 1916 on the site of the original tavern and is located on the north bank of the River Thames. Deceptively large pub has an L-shaped bar serves two regular beers plus a third from the Enterprise Inns list and good food is available. Often lively and bustling, especially when football is on TV. Pool table is available at the rear. A family and dog friendly pub, with a secluded garden with plenty of tables and seating and also a heated smoking area.
    • Food is served from TBA.
    • On my last visit they were serving Loddon Ferryman's Gold, Loddon Hoppit & Sharp's Doombar.
    Griffin
    10/12 Church Road,
    Caversham, RG4 7AD
    website
    • A Chef & Brewer pub which has recently been refurbished following a fire on Christmas Eve 2013. This is a popular pub restaurant in Caversham on the outskirts of Reading. Built in 1916 on the north bank of the River Thames. An impressive pub menu offering a wide choice of delicious dishes. Also has an impressive range of real ales and wines. Victorian, with traditional decor featuring lots of dark wood. Level access from car park and terrace at rear. A family and child friendly pub.
    • Food is served from 11am to 10pm (Mon to Sat) and 12 Noon to 9.30 pm (Sun).
    • On my last visit they were serving Well's Bombardier, Courage Best Bitter, Courage Directors, Hook Norton Old Hooky and Bingham's Twyford Tipple. GBG 2014
    Baron Cadogan
    22-24 Prospect Street,
    Caversham, RG4 8JG
    website
    • Wetherspoon on a more intimate scale than many, attracting a diverse crowd of customers since it first opened in 1997. The pub is named after Baron William Cadogan, once Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, whose family seat was nearby. Paintings by local artists adorn the walls, and TV screens on mute show news and occasional sporting events. The house beer is from the local Loddon Brewery and other microbreweries are also represented, along with real cider.
    • Food is served from 8 am to 11 pm (Mon to Sat) 8 am to 10 pm (Sun).
    • On my last visit they were serving Cadogan's Gold, Greene King Abbot, Ruddles Best, Mastons Old Empire and Bingham's 333. GBG 2014, 2013.
    Last Crumb
    76 Prospect Street,
    Caversham, RG4 8JN
    website
    • Long-established Brakspear pub close to Caversham centre which was tastefully refurbished summer 2013 and now also serves food. Outdoor covered seating area at front of pub but also quieter raised rear garden for sunny summer evenings accessed by stairs from bar. BBQ and live music in the summer. Has pool table in small side bar and TV screens on mute show news and sporting events. Reading Buses No 2 service (Peppard) stops in Prospect Street.
    • Food is served from 12 Noon to 3pm and 6pm to 9pm (Mon to Thur), 12 Noon to 10pm (Fri to Sat) and 12 Noon to 9pm (Sun).
    • On my last visit they were serving Brakespear Bitter, Banks Lion Roar and Ringwood Boondoggle.
    Fox & Hounds
    51 Gosbrook Road,
    Caversham, RG4 8BN
    website
    • Recently refurbished and now run by Kevin and Kerri from Two Bridges Brewery. Serving an ever changing variety of ales and also sells lagers, real cider and Perry's, plus rolls and snacks. Sunday lunch is well worth a visit. Popular quiz night held Thursdays. Beatles and other memorabilia can be found on the walls around the pub.
    • Food is served from TBA.
    • On my last visit they were serving Bingham's Dana-Mite Blonde, Triple FFF Moondance, Tripe FFF Half Time Orange, Rebellion Blonde and Rebellion Stepover. GBG 2014
    Three Guineas
    Station Approach,
    Reading, RG1 1LY
    website
    • Located in the old ticket hall of Reading Train Station and up to ten real ales are available, which are ever changing. This pub has a rugby following, as you will see when you walk through the door; it gets lively with London Irish fans when the team is playing at the Madejski stadium.
    • Food is served from TBA.
    • On my last visit they were serving West Berkshire Good Old Boy, Itchen Valley Pure Gold, Theakston Old Peculiar, Caledonian Flying Scotsman and West Berkshire Dr Hexters Healer.
    On Saturday, 27th September, Berkshire South East CAMRA are doing a pub crawl in Caversham and have invited Reading & Mid-Berkshire CAMRA members and friends along to enjoy the experience.
  • Pub Closures Meeting - 28 July Friday 25 July 2014

    There is a meeting at the Weather Station this coming Monday (28th) at 8pm regarding the spate of closures/threats to Reading's pubs organised by Reading CAMRA. Open invite to anyone to come along - we need bodies, campaigners and people who can spare a bit of time to fight. The local CAMRA branch objecting will not be enough, we nearly all have full-time jobs and can't front out on our own.

    There is a Maiden Over action group page on Facebook, please sign up: https://www.facebook.com/groups/667522626658772/

    Please make an effort to attend - if your local isn't under threat now, it might well be in 18 months. See below for the closure list in the local CAMRA branch since 2007:

    PubPlaceClosure
    Year
    StatusPub co
    Queen ElizabethReading2007Housing approvedAdmiral
    Thatchers ArmsNorth Street2008HouseUnknown
    AbbeyReading2008RestaurantLaurel Inns
    Northumberland ArmsReading2008ShopPunch
    BeehiveUpper Basildon2008Housing approvedIndependent
    Fox and HoundsFarley Hill2009HouseGK
    County ArmsReading2009Boarded upGK
    GranbyReading2009Planning app for Supermarket withdrawnUnknown
    Kennet ArmsReading2009ShopEnterprise
    OasisReading2009Converted to 'community space'GK
    Orange HouseReading2009ShopUnknown
    Royal OakShurlock Row2009HouseGK
    LambTheale2009HouseNomura Bank - possibly pubco?
    Redheads Wine BarTheale2009?Independent
    StarCaversham2010Co-OpEnterprise
    Brewery TapReading2010Empty. Various plans refused.Punch
    CoopersReading2010To be redeveloped as part of arcadeProperty company Brook Henderson
    Kings TavernReading2010ShopAdmiral
    Riverside RestaurantReading2010IndianHall & Woodhouse
    Bird in HandTilehurst2010Boarded upEnterprise
    RestorationTilehurst2010Boarded upUnknown
    Rising SunBurghfield2011SupermarketEnterprise
    3BsReading2011Wound down by RBCRBC
    WestsideReading2011TescoGK
    Seven StarsKnowl Hill2012Housing approvedBrakspear
    DogmaReading2012Now a nightclubUnknown
    Wellington ArmsReading2012Boarded upEnterprise
    Woodley ArmsReading2012Boarded upGK
    Dog & PartridgeRiseley2012Permission for housingEnterprise
    Eastern PearlReading2013Boarded upUnknown
    MaidensReading2013TescoGK
    RoundheadReading2013Boarded upEnterprise
    White HartWargrave2013RestaurantEnterprise
    BantamBurghfield2014Arkells selling, will take any offerArkells
    MurdochsCalcot2014Boarded upUnknown
    Sawdys/Bridges etcCaversham2014Empty (again)Independent
    Queen VictoriaHare Hatch2014Boarded upBrakspear
    Hook & TackleReading2014Boarded upWas Barracuda
    Royal OakShinfield2014Boarded upGreene King
    HorncastleSoutchote2014Boarded upEnterprise
    Red LionTheale2014Selling for housingPunch

    Quinten Taylor

    Vice Chair.
    Beer scoring & GBG co-ordinator.
    Reading & Mid Berks CAMRA

    Meeting at Eldon Arms on 28 July regarding recent spate of pub closures/threats in and around Reading.
  • 2014 local election candidates on pub closures Tuesday 20 May 2014

    Gareth Epps contacted candidates for May 2014 local council elections regarding their positions on pub closures in the Reading and Mid-Berkshire CAMRA region:

    Q. In overall terms, what sort of protection should the council's planning policies give to pubs under threat of permanent closure?

    • James Moore, Lib Dem (Abbey ward): They should recognise their unique ability to act as a community hub and to hold events such as live music, rather than treating them solely as a drinking establishment.
    • John Dearing, UKIP (Katesgrove ward): Maximum possible under existing legislation.
    • Rob White, Green (Park ward): I think the Council's planning policies should give pubs a high level of protection against permanent closure.
    • Margaret McNeill, Lib Dem (Church ward): I am in favour of Local Councils using their powers to prevent pubs being demolished or converted to other uses if it is clear that local people are prepared to support a bid for Assets of Community Value.
    • Chris Burden, Lib Dem (Caversham ward): A pub should be recognised, in principle, as likely to have a desirable place in the community. There should be a presumption, in the planning rules, in favour of the continued existence of a public house in some form at that location. It should be up to bona fide members of the local community and competent experts, to make the case that the continued presence of a pub, as such, in that location is either undesirable and unwelcome, and makes no worthwhile contribution to the wider community, or would simply be an unviable business proposition.

    Q. Are you familiar with the new ability to designate Assets of Community Value?

    • JM: Yes.
    • JD: Yes.
    • RW: Yes.
    • MM: Yes.
    • CB: Yes.

    Q. Will you support communities wanting to nominate community pubs as Assets of Community Value?

    • JM: Absolutely.
    • JD: Yes.
    • RW: Yes.
    • MM: Yes, I would generally support nominations, but I would consider each application on its own merits.
    • CB: Yes.

    Q. Currently most pubs can be demolished or converted into supermarkets or convenience stores without the need for planning permission. Government advice is that an Article 4 Direction can be applied to require permission. Please indicate your view on this.

    • JM: I strongly support this and would take a lead in making such efforts.
    • JD: I strongly support this and would take a lead in making such efforts.
    • RW: I support such a move being made.
    • MM: I would support requiring Article 4 Direction being applied to require permission.
    • CB: I support such a move being made. An Article 4 Direction, requiring a developer to obtain planning permission before redeveloping a pub, seems entirely reasonable. Obviously, certain, normal tests of desirability and viability of the pub would have to be met but, in the end, a developer couldn't just send in the bulldozers.

    Q. The issue above is one example of national planning loopholes that are leaving pubs vulnerable. Would you be prepared to put forward a proposal under the Sustainable Communities Act to the Government as councils are entitled to do, urging them to close these loopholes?

    • JM: Yes.
    • JD: Yes, pubs should be a separate category within the planning laws rather than treated as retail units.
    • RW: Yes.
    • MM: Yes.
    • CB: Yes.

    Q. CAMRA believes there is a role for well-run community pubs in promoting responsible drinking, and that this should be recognised through local licensing policies. At the same time, councils should avoid placing undue strains or administrative burdens on well-run community pubs: for example, in town centres the introduction of late night levies or Early Morning Restriction Orders. Do you agree?

    • JM: Yes.
    • JD: Broadly speaking, yes. There is insufficient understanding in the public sphere that most problems are caused by the excessive availability of alcoholic beverages in the off-trade (esp supermarkets and some corner stores) whereas drinking in pubs is usually well-controlled. Within their limitations pubs are also valuable as meeting places, vehicles for charitable activities and live entertainment venues. The old saying "See you in church" (meaning the pub) has a new resonance in a largely secular society (although I speak as a church-goer myself!)
    • RW: Yes.
    • MM: I would need to know more about this issue.
    • CB: Councils should clearly avoid putting undue administrative demands on what are, after all, small local businesses and employers. It would be nice to believe that any such measures would be implemented only after proper advice from such as the police and local residents, but I have personally witnessed measures aimed at rowdy 'town centre' establishments imposed, in an unnecessary, blanket way, on all pubs in a wide area, out of 'fairness'. (Community) pubs which can demonstrate that their door policy, style of operation, and record (and lack thereof) of incidents, should be able to easily have their licence conditions moderated.

    Q. Any further comments, or (confidentially if necessary) issues you would like advice or support from CAMRA locally?

    • JM: None.
    • JD: As a life-member of CAMRA I strongly support the targets listed below.
    • RW: Please consider this a Reading and Wokingham Green Party response rather than expecting one per candidate.
    • MM: None.
    • CB: None.
    Gareth Epps contacted candidates for the May 2014 local council elections regarding their positions on pub closures in the Reading and Mid-Berkshire CAMRA region.
  • Ale Trail 2014 Thursday 27 March 2014 The Trail Finished on Monday 7th April
  • Greyfriar update: Re-opening at 4pm today Tuesday 25 March 2014

    The Greyfriar have advised that they are re-opening today at 4pm.

    Original article (23 March): Katrina from The Greyfriar advises that it is temporarily closed due to unforeseen circumstances. They are striving to rectify the problem and will re-open as soon as possible.

    Refer to the Reading CAMRA Facebook Group for updates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReadingCAMRA/permalink/727070123992579/

  • Pub of the Year 2014 Monday 9 December 2013

    The contest between the six contenders for the coveted prize of being Reading & Mid-Berks CAMRA's Pub of the Year is over. After visits to the pubs -

    The Alehouse, Reading; The Nags Head, Reading; The Hop Leaf, Reading; The Swan, Three Mile Cross; The Royal Oak, Tilehurst; and The Bell, Waltham St. Lawrence

    The CAMRA members voted the 2014 Pub of the Year to be - The Nag's Head.

    The runner up was - The Alehouse

    And the winner was
  • Search for Cider Pub of the Year 2014 Tuesday 15 October 2013

    The search is now on for National Cider Pub of the Year 2014 and we are looking for nominations for the competition. This award is for the best pub or club in Britain that promotes/encourages sales of quality real cider/perry.

    If you know of a pub or club that fits the above description (anywhere in the country) you can nominate it for this competition by completing the Cider Pub of the Year Nomination Form. Nominations close on November 30th 2013.

    If you have a local nomination after that time, please contact the Cider Rep.

    The branch will be considering nominations both from the from above and any additional one from local members when selecting out branch CPotY 2014 in the new year. The branch winner will then progress onto the regional round of the competition, and may be the next national winner!

    Public nominations are now open for CPotY 2014. Click for more info.
  • AGM 2013 Wednesday 24 July 2013

    An Branch AGM has been called for 11 November, 8pm at the Corn Stores. At the AGM, the committee will be elected. All posts are up for grabs so if you're interested let our Branch Secretary know! A Branch Meeting will follow the AGM.

    Annual General Meeting on 11 November, 8pm at the Corn Stores, Reading
  • Pub of the Year 2013 Update Saturday 6 July 2013

    Nags Head, Russell Street, RG1. Branch Pub of the Year 2013

    Hot News! The Nags Head has been voted "Central South Region Pub of the Year 2013" and is now in the final 16 for overall CAMRA Pub of the Year! There will be a presentation on Wednesday 25th September at 8pm (ish).

    The Shoulder of Mutton was the runner-up. Congratulations to both of these excellent pubs.

    The Nags Head is "Central South Region Pub of the Year 2013!"
  • Cider Pub of the Year 2013! Sunday 2 June 2013

    Our Cider Pub of the Year for 2013 is the Alehouse, runner-up the Nags Head. The Alehouse has also been voted "Berkshire Cider Pub of the Year 2013" and came runner-up at the Central South region stage of the competition. Congratulations!

    The Alehouse is "Berkshire Cider Pub of the Year 2013!"
  • Club of the Year 2013! Sunday 2 June 2013

    Our Club of the Year for 2013 is the Wargrave & District Snooker Club.

    Our Club of the Year for 2013 is the Wargrave & District Snooker Club
  • Pub of the Year 2013! Sunday 2 June 2013

    Nags Head, Russell Street, RG1. Branch Pub of the Year 2013Our Pub of the Year for 2013 is the Nags Head, the runner-up being the Bird in Hand in Knowl Hill.

    Our Pub of the Year for 2013 is the Nags Head, the runner-up being the Bird in Hand in Knowl Hill.
  • New pub in Woodley! Friday 31 May 2013

    The Bosco Lounge, part of the Bristol-based Loungers chain, has opened in Woodley this month. It is selling a real ale (Bristol Beer Factory's Toga Man). It's similar in concept and ethos to the Alto Lounge in Caversham. In an era of pub closures this is a welcome development. Visit their website: http://www.thelounges.co.uk/bosco-lounge/

    Bosco Lounge opens with real ale