Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Home is where the Hob is

The sign above illustrates the general feeling of having a pint at the Hobgoblin pub -- enter and you're in a different world. Posted inside the front door, the notice inspires a sense of the pub as a unique place to be, a special club anyone can join merely by entering. The Hob is on Reading's Broad Street steps away from Starbucks and several other coffee shops (the spot is known as "Coffee Corner"), and once inside you really do feel about 100 miles (and years) away from the cookie-cutter world outside.

The pub is small, dark, often loud and crowded. The building is hundreds of years old, and exudes all the character age entails. A wander through reveals interesting old wood furnishings and little nooks beyond the main room perfect for an intimate chat. The bartender frequently disappears down a narrow stairway in the floor to bring up more brew.

The patrons seem laid back and friendly, coming from a variety of ages and backgrounds -- but more recall first-hand the days when music came on vinyl and TVs had a dial than those who don't. I get the feeling this is a sort of "Cheers" place -- everybody knows your name. Hipsters looking for club music and quick hook-ups should skip it.

It's specialty -- beyond an other-worldly atmosphere -- is a wide variety of ales. The walls and ceiling are covered with beer clips from the thousands of ales offered over the years.

The few times I've been, I can tell it's a home away from home for many. A rare find indeed.

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