The Ale Trail is back for 2022!
The much-loved Ale Trail organised by Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA is back. After Covid forced the 2020 trail to be abandoned part-way through, and another lockdown scuppered any chance of a trail in 2021, it’s been a long time coming but the wait is almost over.
The 2022 Ale Trail follows the tried and tested format of 24 pubs in and around Reading. How it works is like this. Visit each pub, drink some real ale, cider or perry, and collect a sticker. Put the stickers in your booklet and, once you’re done, send in the booklet for a chance to win one of several great prizes.
It all starts on 5 March with a special launch event at the Retreat, St John’s Street, Reading. The pub opens at midday and the launch event runs until 4pm. Come along and collect your booklet (£2 – cash only) and your first sticker, and enjoy the atmosphere in this newly-refurbished backstreet local.
We know that people were upset that the 2020 trail had to be abandoned as the country went into its first lockdown, and only a few people had completed the trail by then. To make up for it, the great news is that if you bring along your 2020 booklet on launch day between 12-4pm you can swap it for a 2022 booklet for FREE, no matter how many or how few stickers you managed to collect.
If you can’t make the launch event, booklets will be available to buy while stocks last at the Retreat, Nags Head and Alehouse. You have until 15 May to complete the trail, so there’s plenty of time to get out and explore.
Here is the list of Ale Trail pubs for 2022:
3. Allied Arms
4. Castle Tap
5. Nags Head
7. Victoria, Tilehurst
8. Fox & Hounds, Tilehurst
9. Griffin, Caversham
10. Fox & Hounds, Caversham
11. Loddon Tap Room, Dunsden Green
12. Hop Leaf
13. Park House, Reading University
14. Turks Head
16. Weather Station
17. Three Tuns
18. Horse & Groom, Hare Hatch
19. Royal Oak, Knowl Hill
20. Bell, Waltham St Lawrence
21. Crispin, Wokingham
22. George & Dragon, Swallowfield
23. Elm Tree, Beech Hill
24. Six Bells, Burghfield
After a drink or two in the Retreat, why not see which other Ale Trail pubs you fancy visiting on launch day? You could wander across the river to Caversham and call in at the Fox and Hounds (pictured) with its six handpumps and 13 craft keg lines. Perhaps you fancy heading south to the University, where the Park House bar is taking part in the trail. Or maybe jump on the bus or train to the farthest-flung pub on this year’s trail, the Crispin in Wokingham.
There’s an old saying that “there’s a pub for everyone” and the Ale Trail is a great example of that. While you’ll like some of them more than others, you’re bound to have a favourite and maybe even discover a pub that you’ve never visited before … but you certainly will again!
Covid has hit the country’s pubs hard and we need to show them that they have our support – and what better way to do that than to go out and visit all the pubs on the trail? This seems especially true this time since we lost one of our long-standing CAMRA branch members to Covid in April 2020.
Dave McKerchar was instrumental in setting up the very first Ale Trail in 2002 (pictured) and that trail, featuring only 15 pubs, grew over the years into one of the most successful in the country. It’s fair to say that the Ale Trail wouldn’t be what it is today without Dave and this year’s trail is a tribute to him.
Cheers, Dave. We miss you.
Published in Mine’s A Pint issue 55