The idea had great potential: take Reading’s old central post office building, gut it to a shell, then convert it into a pub. But oh, if only there was some way to magic McMenamins over here to tackle the job, ’cause they would have done it right; but no, it was the Stonegate Pubco…
Critics of the 1989 beer orders, and there are many, will say that the only result was to transfer half of the Big Six’s tied pubs from one monopolistic entity to another: to the new Pubcos.
This is true in itself but what the critics fail to understand is the bigger picture: how the beer orders, by breaking the ability of the Big Six to dictate what we pour into our beer glasses, created the vacuum into which flowed the 700 or so new microbreweries who today supply cask ale to the better Pubcos’ tied houses and to free houses up and down the country. Unfortunately Stonegate, in my opinion, is not one of the “better Pubcos”.
Stonegate operates several pub ‘brands’ like Yates, Slug & Lettuce, and Scream. These are the McDonalds of the pub world. All flashy on the outside, lacking substance on the inside. They appear to offer value, but they’re also toxic, so eventually they’ll kill you.
Their target market is the younger crowd which, by definition includes the lager lout and yob faction as well as shallow twenty-somethings who, like Magpies and Barracuda, are attracted to shiny things.
Though most Stonegate pubs will likely satisfy Cask Marque requirements for real ale you won’t find a CAMRA LocAle accredited pub among them.
This is true for the Yates in Reading that inhabits the old Post Office on Friar Street. It is directly opposite Wetherspoon’s Monks’ Retreat: a better example of a good Pubco versus bad will, I feel, be hard to find. Yates essentially functions as a giant sports bar by day and a dance club by night.
As for the qualities that for Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer make a good pub: convivial atmosphere, where you walk in a stranger and leave feeling like a local; like-minded clientele who are there primarily for fine ale and stimulating conversation; and friendly, knowledgeable, engaging bar staff who will join in conversation; none of these will you find at Yates.
Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer and The Daughter went in on a Saturday afternoon. All of the cask ales were ‘off’ – we had to drink draft swill like Amstel, etc. The service was awful, the food terrible, and the prices way higher than they should be.You’ll have to pay us to go back again – and even then we’ll take your money and run.
Yates: not recommended 😦