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Monks Retreat
Friar Street, RG1 1HE
Reviewed On: 26 May 2005
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Public Houses in Reading
Berkshire, England.
Previous Names: -
Broad Street, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 2BH
0.26 miles from Reading station [Map]
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
Steve's Score:4.5 (Out of 5)
Gray's Grade:4 (Out of 5)
Steve Supped:West Berkshire Full Circle, West Berkshire Newbury Jack, Rebellion Mutiny
Gray Gulped:West Berkshire Red Admiral, West Berkshire Goldstar, West Berkshire Crabtree
Garden / Facilities:A couple of benches on Broad Street

21 August 2007

Thankfully this is one of those Reading pubs that never changes. Exactly the same as before. Busy - even on a Tuesday night. Good service behind the bar and an excellent range of ever changing beers. Still great really. G.

8 September 2004

It's been years since I've been in here and I forgot just how great it is. The place is covered, all over the walls and ceiling, in thousands and thousands of beer clips from previous beers served here. It'll strain your neck after a while but it's amazing just how many beers you've never tried or even heard off. The front of the pub is just a bar and a bit of standing room and it wraps round the back to a series of fabulous olde-worlde wooden hidey holes to tuck yourself away in with your pint. Wood and graffiti everywhere - and certainly no frills. Talking of no frills, this is a real basic non-glitz pub (which is it's massive appeal), no food, and no poncy drinks available. You might not like the Hobgoblin if you're not a real ale fan. G.
You wont like the 'Hob' as I am going to call it, if you are not a fan real ale but you can still appreciate that it is a unique and interesting place. I'm ashamed to say I have never been here before but I was mighty glad I did. When this trek around Reading is done with and I am once more free to go to a pub I want to go to and not one I need to go to this will be top of the list. If you like real ales and quirky pubs then this is the place and the beers will continually bring you back even if you fancied a change of venue. If you have never been here, don't delay...go now. Go on. NOW I said. S.
PS. the high score is based soley on scoring this place with its genre (and my tastes), so sorry to those of you who will disagree.


I might have been a bit hasty in declaring the Hop Leaf as the best pub in Reading for beer. The Hobgoblin is equal or better. Surely the very best beer experience to be had in the actual town centre? I thought the Hobgoblin was traditionally a Wychwood tied pub (which was no bad thing), but they've flung those out to have a regular range of West Berkshire brewery beers. There was three West Berks, and another six real ales! There was too much beer to remember (which is really saying something), including another local Loddon beer and a couple of breweries I've never even heard of! The blackboard promised a regular change of beers, so you can try something different nearly every day. The West Berks Red Admiral was a delicious little number. Add to the 9 beers a draught cider and an excellent choice of good lager (Czech Budvar) and all is well. It's not the place for a nice chardonnay though and you'd get very funny looks if you asked for a lager. Great. G.
As a 'pub' goes and as for 'beer' this place would take some beating and it's all crammed into a small cosy bar area that entices you in and has your eyes flitting from one pump to the other whilst you are thinking how on earth do I make such a decision. Happy days! S.
1 Feb 2005: Just thought I'd mention we'd been back here to check out the wide range of beer. There were a further three different West Berkshire beers on the go. S-Man opted for the West Berks Newbury Jack (a very drinkable stout) and I went for distinctively tasting Goldstar. Yum. G.

VISITOR FEEDBACK [Give Your Feedback]

"I visited this pub a few years ago whilst down in the south. With a name like that, I just had to try it. What a great place, great beer, great atmosphere, and full of real poeple with real manners. I am hoping to visit again very soon as I will be visiting Reading on business, and I hope to introduce a friend to the eclectic charms of such a rare pub. I've never seen anything like it elsewhere, but would love there to be one somewhere near Saddleworth."
(Rated 10 out of 10)
SatyR visited in October 2010

"All problems have been sorted and the Hobgoblin has taken its place again as one of Reading's finest real ale pubs. (If you are very brave, ask for a Foster's or use your mobile phone in the bar.)"
(Rated 9 out of 10)
Berthwaite visited in January 2010

"Oh dear. What has happened to my pub? Last Friday night, out of 8 beer pumps, only one was working and the beer from that was cloudy. This is not the first time there has been a distinct lack of choice under the new management. I fear the callarwork is being neglected since Rob left (early May 2008). Three months is more than enough time to get over any teething problems so I am very concerned."
(Rated 4 out of 10)
Berthwaite visited in August 2008

"This pub is outstanding, for several reasons; the most important of which is that THE REGULAR PUNTERS DRINK THE ALE. This means that a barrel is never old, and the beer quality is outstanding as a result. This is the problem with places like the Nag's Head, or indeed Wetherspoons; great selection, but if the regular local punters in there are not drinking the ale, the beer is never going to be brilliant no matter how hard the landlord tries. Put it this way. A pint of real ale in the Wetherspoons pub the Monks Retreat is a tad over £1.50. In the Hobgoblin, it might be £2.70. I would go to the Hobgoblin every time, as that £2.70 guarantees you an outstanding drink. But beware - if there is a problem with this place, it is that the beer is TOO good - in other words, it's just too easy to drink more and more and more and most nights when I've returned home to an ear-bashing having had 2 or 3 too many, I have been in the Hobgoblin. Brilliant little cubby-holes to sit in at the back as well. Absolutely no tossers in there either. The music is very random in a John Peel kind of way; one night it will be Pirate music and sea shanties, another night it might be death metal. Not been before? Just one thing to be aware of - don't use your mobile phone - they are funny about this in there, and quite rightly so if I say so myself! Outstanding."
(Rated 10 out of 10)
nick visited in November 2007

"This is my favorite pub. The beer selection is good and generally changes whilst your there. The beer itself is excellently kept and the staff know their stuff. Fantastic."
(Rated 10 out of 10)
Joe Higton visited in September 2007

"i almost don't want to tell anyone how good this pub is, for fear of inviting the wrong crowd but this audience seems ok so i'll reveal the BEST PUB IN READING. Without exception. Why? This is harder to answer as there are many complex reasons - lets start with the easy ones; the beers are many and varied, well kept and the pump clips all become part of this infamous pub. the bar staff are at times, painfully challenging and you feel you have to earn the right to drink there and so you do. Like all pubs should be, you can cchat to anyone without worrying about making a fool of yourself. Frequented by scientists, philosophers, phsychologists, mathamaticians, artsists, trekkies, hippies, skifflers, fools, crazy muthas, train-spotters, beer-collectors... you name it, they drink there. The best."
(Rated 10 out of 10)
Baz McCarthy visited in August 2007

"bloody great place, staff are second to none, (and tell you that too), beer is brilliant (and it takes a lot of hard work,this real ale). so what its small and doesn't do is great!! best place in reading."
(Rated 10 out of 10)
mick ps52 visited in July 2007

"All I can say to the sceptecal members judging the hobgoblin is- oh do shut up. The pub is full becuase its popular, therefor the beer and atmosphere is a great pull for customers. Everyone is expecially friendly to me and my mob as the bar staff are all students and the locals give fantastic banter. Perhaps the reason some people feel isolated from this is becuase they are unable to hold any form of witty conversation. Or they committed the ultimate sins- used a mobile/asked for a florescent coloured drink. The ale is always changing and the Hobgoblin encapsulates exactly what a good english pub should be. I'm a student and, actually, I really want to work there!"
(Rated 10 out of 10)
Lucy Ripper visited in May 2007

"As someone who has been a regular at the Hob and other Reading real ale pubs for a number of years I feel obliged to comment on Chris's rating of the Hobgoblin. First let me be clear I am very much aware that the Hob has it's faults and is not to everyone's taste (it's a kind of marmite pub). Moreover it has been a victim of it's own success, in that what many recent reviewers of it (and some established regulars) dislike is the fact that the crowded business of the place on many evenings (and some days) makes for cramped smokey drinking and frazzled bar staff. However, to suggest that the beer is poor quality is frankly inaccurate, the broad range of beers does mean that it is often possible to get a pint that you personally don't like (particularly if you don't take time to ask the bar staff for advice on the matter) but very rarely is there anything actually wrong with it in the sense Chris implies. It is inevitable that beer being an organic product with live organisms like yeast in it will ocassionally do odd things but in my experience when someting is genuinely wrong the staff will stop serving the beer and replace your pint. Also as to the matter of storage it is criminal that whoever owns the Hob have not spent the money to extend the cellars but the beer through put is such that whilst barrels are stored in the pub itself this is prior to them going into the cellar and is usually only for a very short period of time. (How do I know this because I have observed the barrels). This type of arrangement is not unusual in the trade the only difference in the Hob is that you can see it and yes sometimes hot weather does mean that interesting explosions can occur. Increased popularity and lack of owner investment have made this pub tattie round the edges and meant that the usually fun (if very mad) staff have less time for a bit of craic than they used to but the beer and atmosphere are still great if you are prepared to engage with the experience. Finally, the decor/toilet facilities are very much of the marmite variety but if you look real efforts have been made by the staff themselves in the last while back...also I think people need to appreciate the age of the building and it's rustic charm and stop comparing it to the modern little boxes that so many of the pubs in Reading are. Love it or hate it as you like but don't slag off the beer because it's just not so."
(Rated 8 out of 10)
Colette visited in May 2007

"Just like what a pub should be, switch off your mobile phone and get on with the drinking...."
(Rated 9 out of 10)
JON visited in April 2007

"First the good bits; It's a 'real boozers pub' - whatever that means, it's cozy enough as long as you get a seat, and not too hazy inside. The downsides; It's pretentious. Not in a 'Terrence Conran furniture and wine' sense, but in a CAMRA -card wielding beardy-wierdy sense. Additionally, the beer is atrocious - probably not suprisingly as the kegs are stored in the - very warm - main room of the pub. You will be fine if you go for whatever the most popular beer of the day is, however, if you go for one of less likely beers that they have on tap you can expect to get a bad ping 3 times out of 10."
(Rated 4 out of 10)
Chris visited in March 2007

"I work at the Hobgoblin and object to both the student who felt excluded (I'm a student all the other bar staff are ex-students mostly from Reading - excluded? I think not) and also the guy who said we sell pints of treacle! Cheek! And I'm sorry, but funnily enough we all have homes to go to and don't fancy hanging around after closing just because you happen to have some foriegn friends down. Go somewhere else if you want to carry on drinking! Anyway, rant over, I can fully recommend this pub to anyone who enjoys a good pint of real ale and hearty serving of banter. It is a small pub so if, like our curmudgeonly friend above, you don't like crowded pubs I'd advice a weekday daytime or Sunday evening to try it. To be honest, have a peak through the window and if you can actually see the bar then go for it! All in all I love this place I only stumbled across it last Septemeber and I haven't looked back since. Love it!"
(Rated 10 out of 10)
Jo visited in January 2007

"A great drinking pub. If you want to do anything else, such as eating, forget it. It can be difficult to find a seat!"
(Rated 9 out of 10)
Clive visited in October 2006

"Absolutely dreadful pub. I like real ale and this place always manages to come up with disgusting pints of treacle. Just plain weird bar staff who yell rudely at you to get out at 2 mins past 11 - embarassing when you're in there with foreign friends Unaware of antiquated English licensing laws/ Too small. People barging into you all the time. Aaaarggh. I think 1 was generous"
(Rated 1 out of 10)
Ally visited in April 2006

"Billy, Iím a student and Iíve never felt that this pub in any way goes out of the way to exclude us. It may not be a common student place but for me thatís the best thing about it as itís a change from a lot of the other town-centre pubs. You can get proper beer and the regulars always seem welcoming whenever Iíve been there. There arenít ever many students there but thatís probably more down to the fact that itís a small pub that doesnít serve the commercial lagers than the fact that it deliberately excludes us."
(Rated 9 out of 10)
Simon visited in April 2006

"The best pub I know. Friendly (if totally barking) staff and the best beers anwhere. Buy a pasty next door and bring it in to eat with your pint, if you want to eat. The guy who thought it was not a student-friendly place obviously has a very poor sense of humour."
(Rated 9 out of 10)
Berthwaite visited in April 2006

"I hate this place! I find it extremely pretencious as it deliberatley goes out of its way to exclude the student population. As a paying customer- who happens to also be a student- I find it rude that I am made to feel unwelcome in a genuinely quirky place that sells decent beer for a change...."
(Rated 2 out of 10)
Billy visited in December 2005

"Fantastic CAMRA pub. Love the "What's the matter lager boy? Fraid you might taste something?" posters and that the appears to be staffed by whichever of the locals is free at the time. A great pub to get down to some seriuos beer drinking."
Iain visited in June 2005

"I haven't been to the Hobgoblin yet, but I think the Hop Leaf is the best pub in Reading. You can't beat dunkel lager, the only REAL lager in Reading."
Iain visited in May 2005

"Hello. Hoorah for this website and well done for judging the Hobgoblin the best pub in Reading. Personally, I think it's one of the best pubs in the world! Brilliant beers, mobile-phone free, friendly staff and regulars and, best of all, this is where my fiancee and I went on our first-date, and many, many dates since..."
Peter Moore visited in May 2005

Average Visitor Score: 7.88 out of 10


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Hobgoblin Pub (Reading, Berkshire)
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