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Malmaison
Station Road, RG1 1JX
Reviewed On: 21 Aug 2007
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Public Houses in Reading
Berkshire, England.
   
Nags Head
Previous Names:
Russell St, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 7XD
0.53 miles from Reading station [Map]
Final Score: 7.0 out of 10
Steve's Score:3.5 (Out of 5)
Gray's Grade:3.5 (Out of 5)
Steve Supped:Stella, Milestone North Rock, Vale Grumpling
Gray Gulped:Ruddles, Three Castles Vale Ale, Triple FFF Alton's Pride
Garden / Facilities:Small pub just off the Oxford Road with a car park round the back

RE-REVIEW:
11 July 2007

What a transformation!! Congratulations to the new owners on turning a very average pub not worth visiting into a highlight on the Reading pub scene. They've done a good job on turning a square room into a pleasant feeling pub. Perhaps not that cosy but S-Man will detail that I'm sure. The highlight is obviously the bar. It's only a small bar but it's stacked up with beer clips for the massive range of real ale. It's not an easy task to pick a beer from such a selection but thankfully the guy behind the bar helpfully explained the system: lighter beers on the right to stouts and stronger ales on the left. This would be useful for a full night in here when you could work along the bar from right to left on different halves - and still end up rather hammered. All in one pub. Above the bar are blackboards letting you know what beers are next on. 2.50 for a pint of anything was a great deal - and just nine quid for a four pint jug. Beer heaven. The staff seemed friendly and keen to do a good job and the punters were a much more upbeat bunch than before the change over. Some locals were enjoying the full selection of daily papers, and groups of younger people sampling the great range of beer. It turned out that the tables down the far end of the car park are popular for catching the late evening sun in the summer. The pubs is reasonably bare inside, but they've retained a few links with the Irish theme. The pool table's gone but there's still darts and a stack of board games to entertain yourself. Hang on, what's with the model train above the bar? Did I mention twelve real ales? G.
Yes, I think you mentioned that a couple of times. Good spot on the model train, never noticed that when we were in there. Do you think they rotate that as well. Not literally on a turntable thing but you know what I mean - was it a guest train and will it be different the next time we are there. I do hope so! Anyho - I'm bloody glad they didn't turn it into flats (as Brendan suggested in Oct 2004 - although I wouldn't have argued with him then). 12 real ales!! I ask you! So, for beer you can't get better. At first we thought the atmos was a bit lacking but it was a Wed after work and then we realised half the customers were enjoying the sun at the back of the car park! If they were in the pub it would have added nicely to the atmos. I almost asked GMan to have a little bash on the ivories (oh yes, they have an 'old Joanna'!) but I had heard him trying to play only the weekend before so I kept schtum. The pub could do with some carpet here and there and a couple more tables but you wont notice as you'll be too busy enjoying the bevy of delights behind the bar - and I mean the beer! S.

ORIGINAL REVIEW:
29 June 2004

Just a short distance from the town centre - but nothing like any of the town centre pubs. The Nags Head is a proper working mans boozer and, if you looked away from Steve (which can only be a good thing!), not a single office worker in sight. Reasonable enough pub but not great! Small bar with a pool table, a range of obviously regular drinkers, and a great selection of "traditional" style Irish tunes coming out of the jukebox. The locals were even whistling along. Not that we tried the food but this has to be the place in Reading to come for breakfast (the pub opens from 8am!) - 3.50 for what sounded like a major helping to start the day. A real basic pub fitting into the cheap and cheerful category - probably been like this for years. I'm not sure if they'd let women in yet though. G.
They let you in though mate!! Not a lot to say with this pub really. It's got a pool table (as mentioned above) which is a good thing, if you like pool it is anyway, and I do, so it's a good thing in my review. Does the job in much the same way as a Wetherspoons but actually not half as good on the beer or decor front (and that's saying something on the decor front when you consider how standard a Whetherspoons is). Oh well, not bad really, can't complain I suppose, they sold beer and I drank it so a good time was had. S.

BEER EXPERIENCE

Without doubt the Nags Head now offers the widest range of real ale in Reading town centre. It's quite unbelievable that a small back street pub like this can offer twelve real ales on the go at any one time. Twelve real ales! And by the look of the blackboards and all the beer clips along the top of one wall, the beers are regularly changing. Come back on another night and you're sure to get a different selection. It was tough to choose. The Vale Ale was top notch - really good beer and slipped down a treat. The Triple FFF was a disappointment after that - a bit bland - but then it was a touch low in alcohol. I'm sure it tasted better at the beer festival unless my mind is playing tricks, but on the plus side it was served in a nice Triple FFF glass. Twelve real ales! G.
Oh I say - 12 real ales! Has anyone mentinoed that yet!! Need I say more. Ok then, get here quick and have a jolly fine time trying them all.. Thumbs up to the landlord! Keep up the very good work. S.

The following applies to the first review on 29 Jun 2004:
Bit strange really for a pub recently done up as part of the Greene King group. No sign of IPA or Abbot Ale when we were in there - no cask ale - which was disappointing for a "proper" pub like this one. The Ruddles was OK - but one of those beers with a six foot head that magically generates a couple of minutes after you've left the bar. G.
Disappointing beer selection indeed and I'm glad I chose Stella as I have never seen this Ruddles Smooth malaky before and I'm glad I didn't bother trying it. S.

VISITOR FEEDBACK [Give Your Feedback]

"I'm not sure if people read this still - but I thought I would provide an update as the last review is now 6 years old. Basically not much has changed. The pub was able to buy out it remaining ties to the brewer last year so it now offers an even larger supply of drinks - especially real cider. One thing is certain is that you will never get bored of the choice. The pub has continued it's back-to-basics style when it comes to furnishings and entertainment. There's a darts board and a selection of board games but that's your lot - no pool table, fruit/quiz machines, juke box etc. And that's the way a lot of people like it. I once heard someone say that the only problem with the nags is that it isn't twice as big. It certainly gets extremely busy a lot of the time and any hope of getting a table (or even served) during a popular sporting event should be abandoned. Saying that, I'm not personally impressed with the ale quality. I know a number of Camra members that would shout me down for saying so i'm probably wrong, but for me the ale isn't as good as it should be."
(Rated 7 out of 10)
Steve visited in January 2013

"This is a very friendly and welcoming pub with a superb range of Real Aleas and Whisky with an improving range of wines. The bar staff are very friendly and will take time to tslk to you. The food selection is basic but improving, the food is well cooked and wholesome. The pub has now got a team in the Cribbage and Dart leagues They have also got the log fire burning which gives the pub another big tick.Any real ale drinker should never miss this pub when in Reading"
(Rated 9 out of 10)
Ian visited in December 2007

"Best choice of Real Ale in Reading - 12 on tap at any one time, constantly changing line-up and well kept. Been a few times and pleased to say that each time its been busier - seems like more and more are discovering this gem. Now running a bus up to all Reading home games for just 2 and started doing food - a fine full english was the special on Saturday. highly recommended."
(Rated 9 out of 10)
Tom visited in August 2007

"Sorry guys but it ain't Greene King any more. [Er, yeah we know!] Thats why you have such a wide choice and why you can afford them. G.K have been selling off their pubs, and Admiral have been buying them up. Admiral participate in the SIBA scheme, and the result is what you see. I am aquainted with one of the partners and know him to be a great supporter of real pubs as well as passionate about quality of the beer and value for money. Support this pub and they will be able to lift it and it's beers to even higher standards. Sam"
(Rated 9 out of 10)
Sam visited in August 2007

"disagree with patrick. it can get quite busy in the nags now and there's a reasonable turn around on the beer. agreed that twelve beers is be a bit optimistic for a small pub but they're doing their best"
(Rated 8 out of 10)
Al visited in July 2007

"There is indeed a large selection in this pub. One issue though (after three visits) is that there aren't many real ale drinkers inside, hence the beers ....are not well kept. Such a shame. Was served twice a gone of beer and they did not admit it. third time the beer was just OK. The patron makes no effort in getting you a well kept pint. Avoid ! Go to the Butler's/Monk/Hob fro proper pint."
(Rated 3 out of 10)
patrick visited in July 2007

"The main reviews are out of date. [Not any more they're not!] This is now an excellent non-smoking real ale pub with no less than 12 (yes TWELVE) hand pumps. Well worth a visit."
(Rated 10 out of 10)
Nick visited in May 2007

"New owners have made all the difference as now a likable (albeit a bit sparse) friendly, real ale pub - a massive difference from before! 12 ales on and constantly changing, as well as a good wine list. A winner"
(Rated 8 out of 10)
Jim visited in May 2007

"Recently renovated and rejuvenated by new owners. Great selection of real ales and nice, fresh,, friendly atmosphere."
(Rated 10 out of 10)
Dicky visited in March 2007

"I used to go to this pub on a regular basis when working in the area and I loved it. I am from Kildare and the atmosphere in here on a lively night is not dissimilar from a pub down the road from me. A real Irish boozer with real Irish home cooked hearty food."
Amma visited in January 2005

"Used the pub on loads of occassions while working on the Oracle development, horrible customers and horrible inn keepers. I was never a fan of superstyle pubs (Wetherspoons) but I do hope they put this one to the sword. Sorry, but pub's like these deserve to be put into flats."
Brendan visited in October 2004

Average Visitor Score: 8.11 out of 10

NEIGHBOURING PUBS

The following pubs are within stumbling distance of this establishment:

         
Current Score:
7
Original Score:
3.5
Traditional Pub?
Yes
Party Pub?
No
Proper Food?
No
Real Ale Pub?
Yes
Pub Games?
Yes

Nags Head Pub (Reading, Berkshire) Nags Head Pub (Reading, Berkshire) Nags Head Pub (Reading, Berkshire) Nags Head Pub (Reading, Berkshire)
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