“ Address: 2 Broad St / Reading / Berkshire / RG1 2BH „
Finding a pub with a bit of character can be difficult in a place like Reading where the faceless identikit chains rule. Luckily I can always rely on the Hobgoblin my favourite pub in in the town for a decent pint of real ale and a cosy seat where you can have a bit of privacy if you want. Although it may have once had associations with the Wychwood brewery and the Hobgoblin chain of pubs it feels very much like an independent. Its a pub I immediately felt at home in the first time I first stepped through its doors. And here's why i love it so much.
The Hobgoblin is situated slap bang in the middle Reading's town centre on the corner of the main shopping street Broad Street and Butler's Market. From the exterior looks very much the traditional brick corner pub. I love the art deco shell like awning above the door . Out on the pavement are a few outside benches presumably for the smokers. During my y last visit on a Sunday afternoon in summer these benches were taken by those supping an ala fresco pint or two.
On entering the Hobgoblin you go down a couple of steps straight into the bar area. Its quite small and there are usually a lo of the regulars (some the traditional CAMRA stereotype others not so) standing around. However I've never found it a problem getting served even when busy. I have always been served pretty swiftly. The Hobgoblin is a real ale aficionado's paradise. There's about six of them on at all times. I like th fact they actively support local breweries My last visits they had Good Old boy from the West Berkshire brewery as well as offering from Two Bridges Brewery. These are clearly labeled as local brews. If you are bewildered by the variety or just indecisive the bar staff are happy to to advise, as they are very knowledgeable about he beers on tap. I remember standing at the bar and saying to my boyfriend that I fancied something dark"fancy something dark. The barman immediately asked if I liked something spicy and pointed to a very tasty winter ale very much to my taste. I like this , as sometimes I go into a pub and ask about a particular beer whether it is golden or a stout and they have no clue whatsoever. The downside is it is not the cheapest place in Reading to drink. On my last visit I bought a round of two pints of Bbumblebee and it came to £6.60. They do serve a range of spirits and other drinks (i think a JD and Coke is around about the £3 mark). But this is definitely a pub where beer is king.
Fancy a rare breeds beefburger rustic chips topped with garlic aoli. You are out of luck, as the Hobgoblin does not have a menu apart from the traditional peanuts and crisps. Its also a mobile phone free so peace from annoying ring tones and people saying "I'm in the Pub". Due to these two things its not a family fpub . Thais is a drinker's pub
Once you've got your pint its now time to find a seat and marvel at he pub's interior. It's quite plain with wooden furnishings but the walls and also the ceilings are completely covered with the various beer pump clips they have had over the years. I could spend hours just looking at them an seeing which ones I have had, which ones are the most decorative, have the best names or are beers I may fancy.
Seating at times can be a problem in the Hobgoblin.. Most of my visits have been on Sunday afternoon or weekday evenings. I'm not sure I would like it half as much on a busy Friday or saturday evening. From the bar you go down a narrow corridor. On your right on the corner is a couple of stools and table whilst on your left are a couple of little snugs or booths. Ones much larger with two tables and can seat perhaps seven or eight plus a few standing. Tis would be great for a small gathering. The other one only has room for two or three three people. I love this one especially, as it is just so cosy and intimate rather than being in a huge more open pub.
One of the other things I love about the Hobgoblin is its idiosyncratic soundtrack. You never know what type of music might be playing. I've had folk ska, and most memorably German death metal being played whilst there. Some of the offerings may not be to everyone's taste but are far more interesting than the bland stuff you get in some pubs.
One essential thing after a pint of three of such good beer is the facilities. They are at the back of the pub almost in the yard . There's only one female toilet and there never seems to be a queue for it , which seems a blessing. It's always very clean , which is a godsend , as I've been into a lot of pubs where the loo leaves a lot to be desired.
If you like real pubs with real ale and in Reading Town Cente I would heartily recommend the Hobgoblin