Ales Drank on the Reading Beer Fest (2012) Ale Trail

Posted on Updated on

For anyone reading this who is not aware. The Reading beer festival, which is my home town these days, hosts the 2nd largest regional beer festival in the UK every Spring bank holiday week at ‘Kingsmeadow’, this year from May 2nd-6th. The event is organised by the campaign for real ale’s (CAMRA), local branch.

400 + beers (plus many ciders) are sold from within two large marquees. To add to the festival atmosphere, there is live music every evening, traditional pub games, stalls, food etc. As a real ale enthusiast myself, it is one of the highlights of the year, and only a short bus ride away for me 🙂   > 


I don’t know exactly which year the ale trail began, as I have only been living in the town since 2006, and this is my ‘2nd’ trail year. But it seems the reason for the trail starting was because the festival had become so popular with the general public that the queues to the festival became a problem, and local CAMRA members were receiving no advantage in admission into their local festival. I can vouch for this, having stood in a long queue a couple of times prior to completing the trail in 2011. Because the beers are housed in marquees, and even though the size of the site is pretty big, there is ‘fire limit’ restrictions on numbers allowed onto the site. And once it’s full up, it’s 1 out, 1 in. And if you are in a queue of 250-500 people, it can take some time to get in!!

SO, they are ways around this, avoid the busy times, Fri night, and Saturday. Or, like me do the ale trail. Each year the local CAMRA branch chooses 28 pubs within the Reading area, known for it’s consistently good ale, and then produces a pamphlet with information on these pubs, with space for a stamp from each pub. Get 18 and you get 1 free ticket to the festival (to be used at anytime), get all 28 and you get 2. Also, the most important part of this, you get to join a separate queue for those who have done the ale trail, so rather than join a queue of potentially 500 people, it might be 20 or less!

Last year, 2011, I completed all 28 pubs. Frankly, not being a fan of beers from the Brakespear brewery, I couldn’t get excited about a few of the pubs visited, but I think I managed to get to about pub 26 by drinking a different beer in each, before, you guessed it, a Brakespear pub let me down. Personally, I find their beers very insipid, and wouldn’t have any of their pubs on the trail, but I guess they must have some fans out there in CAMRA world!

This year I decided to do ‘at least’ 18, maybe more, so obtaining 1 free festival pass, incase I decide to visit the festival on the busy Saturday. Like last year my plan of action was a different beer in each pub. And if time allows before the deadline (Apr 11) for sending for the ticket/s, I may complete all 28, if my different beer criteria is met! So below is the list of pubs in chronological order of visit and beers drank, hic 🙂

1- The Royal Oak – Tilehurst – ‘Maid Marian Blonde ‘  – Springhead Brewery.

2- The Fox & Hounds – Caversham – ‘River Crossing’  – Appleford Brewery.

3- Castle – Hurst – ‘Vanilla Stout’ – Binghams Brewery.

4- Baron Cadogan – Caversham – ‘English Ale’ – West County Brewery.

5- The Fox and Hounds – Tilehurst – ‘Bitter’ – The Butcombe Brewery.

6- The Elm Tree – Beech Hill – ‘Doombar’ – Sharps Brewery.

7- The Swan – Three Mile Cross – ‘Landlord’ – Timothy Taylor Brewery.

8- The Nags Head – Reading – ‘Pale Ale’ – The Redemption Brewery.

9- The Bull – Theale – ‘Henrys IPA’ – Wadworth Brewery.

10- The Queens Head- Reading – ‘Hullbaloo’ – Loddon Brewery.

11- The Royal Oak – Knowl Hill – ‘IPA’ – The Rebellion Brewery.

12- The Bell – Waltham St Lawrence – ‘Artful Dodger’ – The Vale Brewery.

13- The Cross Keys – Pangbourne – ‘Bitter’ – JW Lees Brewery.

14- The Abbott Cook – Reading – ‘Build a Rocket Boys’ – Robinsons Brewery and  ‘Somerland Gold’ from the Moor Brewery.

15- The Maiden Over – Earley – ‘Hoppit’ – Loddon Brewery.

16- The Crown – Swallowfield – ‘Amber’ – Otter Brewery.

17- The Turners Arms – Mortimer – ‘FortyNiner’ – Ringwood Brewery and ‘Special’ from Brakspear Brewery.

18- The Elephant and Castle- Whistley Green – ‘Libertine’ – Greene King Brewery.

19- The Duke of Wellington – Tywford – ‘Sunbeam’ – Banks Brewery.

20- Lands End – Charvil – ‘Bitter’ – Brakspear Brewery.

21- Foresters Arms – Reading – ‘Pigs Tea’ – West Berkshire Brewery.

22- Moderation – Reading – ‘Tribute’ – St Austell Brewery.

23- The Ale House (Hobgoblin) – Reading – ‘Jesters’ – Butts Brewery.

24- The Hop Leaf – Reading – ‘Spring Twist’ – Andwell Brewery.

25 – The Retreat – Reading  – ‘Hereford Pale’ – Wye Valley Brewery.

26 – The Fishermans Cottage – Reading – ‘ESB’ – Fullers Brewery.


One thought on “Ales Drank on the Reading Beer Fest (2012) Ale Trail

    JD said:
    March 23, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    3- Castle – Hurst – ‘Vanilla Stout’ – Binghams Brewery

    How was the Binghams?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s