Micropub is a fantastic addition to village life
- Credit: Archant
Have you spotted the new micropub The Reading Rooms in Wheathampstead, right on the High Street? It is a very cool addition to the village and could have come straight from Hoxton.
It’s run by Nick and Matt, the Farr Brewery duo who brew their award-winning beers in nearby Coleman Green Lane. You might also recognise Ellis Tofalli who runs the micropub day to day and is the niece of Christo at Ye Olde Fighting Cocks and used to work there. It only opened in June and has already proved very popular with the village.
The Reading Rooms is a micropub (and it is tiny, with three small rooms) that serves their own Farr Brew beers on draft, as well as cider, wine and a few spirits, so there is something for everyone. It also sells bottled beers and wines to take away and their own draft beers in various size containers. The Farr Brew beers on tap including Golden, Chief Jester, both great summer beers, and also Black Listed which was created for the Fighting Cocks.
The building is a lovely Grade 2 listed former shop, so took over a year to sort out the redevelopment. I love the feel of the place; there are books and papers to read so you can pop in on your own, but there are also cosy places to sit with pals.
You can probably only seat about 10 in the downstairs bar, and maybe 15 upstairs so don’t all rush there at once! Ellis told me that they already have regulars who buy the beer to take away, rather than go to the brewery, so it is ideal for summer barbecues and parties.
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I went with two pals to a gin tasting evening which was held in the lovely upstairs room, full of comfy armchairs and a sofa. It was a very warm night and they had packed the room with gin enthusiasts, but we enjoyed the presentation and tastings by new local gin distillery Black Bridge, who are based just up the road. We tried four gins and a moonshine, which was a first for me. The gin is sold by the bottle or glass at The Reading Rooms, as well as at local indie shops including The Fleetville Larder, Tomoka Spirits and Carpenters. We loved the signature house gin which had grapefruit flavours without the strong gin kick – lovely with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic. The Blue Admiral was a big hit too (it changes colour as you add tonic). The moonshine is a potent whisky with quite a vegetal aroma, which my pal loved, but might have been the reason for my dizzy head that night!
Black Bridge make a bespoke gin for the pub called A Bridge to Farr, so maybe choose that one if popping in to The Reading Rooms. Black Bridge only started this year so is a very new company and everything is made by the small team so they sell out quickly.
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If you need something to eat the pub does a few freshly baked sausage rolls, pasties and scotch eggs which are made locally again in Wheathamstead by Brimarks Butchers. I’d always love a veggie option so didn’t try them but others said the sausage rolls were excellent.
Situated next to the church at 36 High Street, in what I think was the florist, The Reading Rooms is open 12pm–9.30pm.
It is a terrific addition to the village, and well worth the short taxi ride from Harpenden and St Albans.