Fun on tap at The Taproom
To the Old Dairy Farm in Yattendon, for posh burgers and craft ale at this stylish, family friendly, brewery bar.
West Berkshire Brewery Taproom & Kitchen, Yattendon
A dairy farm has never been so inviting. The cows have gone and in its place is West Berkshire Brewery – home to the WBB cask ale, its craft ale sibling Renegade and the very cool Taproom & Kitchen – that has it’s only gone and won Best Bar in the Muddy Awards this year, so I am super excited to have tried it out. The Old Dairy Farm is an enormous space between the pretty village of Yattendon and Frilsham, so staggering distance from Muddy Berks HQ for this intrepid editor.
It still looks like a farm (thankfully doesn’t smell like one), large agricultural buildings and livestock in the surrounding fields. Having outgrown their last premises, just a few hundred yards away, West Berkshire Brewery moved and went big – really big. And with brewery tours and drinkers in mind, they’ve used one of the many agricultural barns to showcase their beers with a shop, bar and kitchen. You would think it is a challenging spot to launch a bar, you’re not going to get much passing trade. So can The Taproom pull it off – while simultaneously pulling me a pint? Spoiler alert! It’s a bit of a hidden gem.
I have eaten here with my family and had a casual date night with Mr M (I’m nothing but thorough), but must admit I had reservations (and I don’t mean my table for two) – it sounded a very blokey proposition with lots of beard stroking admiration for ales. However, I was relieved to find it wasn’t heaving with lurching rugby types on a bender or CAMRA beer snobs, rather a smattering of other families, couples and a couple larger groups celebrating a birthday.
It’s a stylish, modern space, with wooden floors, wooden benches and tables with industrial details that seem fitting in what is in fact a factory. One wall is made of glass showcasing the super shiny polished beer stills, which is very cool. My first thoughts were to keep the kids’ sticky mitts away from the glass, it must take a vat of Windowlene to clean.
The space is vast, so you would think it would need A LOT of people to make it feel buzzy. But actually that’s not the case. It’s relaxed, welcoming and that informality means everyone is able to kick back whether you’re their with your chimps or the dog.
Scoff & Quaff
I must confess, despite the vast amount of fizz swigging, I love a lush cold lager – particularly in the summer. I chose the Renegade Craft Lager while Mr M opted for the Indian Session Ale. Both hitting the spot on a balmy night in countryside. If craft beer isn’t your thang, there’s wine, spirits – everything you would expect in a bar. The food is hearty, big flavoured fare, ideal for soaking up all that booze – posh burgers, stone-baked pizzas and sharing platters.
If you’re after the traditional three courses, you’ll have to undo more than a couple of your shirt buttons,to get down with the menu. It’s a strictly casual affair. Sharing platters, light bites which would work as a starter if that’s how you roll. We ordered Head Brewers platter which consisted of cured meats, pickle, pork pie, a Scotch egg and ale chutney – a nice stop gap if you’re starving. If you’re not a total carnivore there’s a ‘Gardeners’, ‘Fishman’ and ‘Cheesemonger’ platters. Clue’s in the name (wink wink). They’re all served on large white plates and you’re left to dig in.
The mains are largely posh burgers, pizzas, but you’ll spot a couple of classics: steak and fish and chips on the menu as well as a selection of salads. It’s also worth checking the specials board for something a bit different, if the menu’s not floating your boat. If you tickling your tastebuds with one of the local brews, below each dish is recommendation to bring out the flavour of both the food and the beer.
I opted for the venison burger with stilton and a red onion marmalade, served with chips, coleslaw and salad garnish. I’m not a huge fan of blue cheese but with the venison it felt indulgent and pimped up like a posh burger should. Mr M went for the classic cheese burger loaded with bacon and relish. I can report, clean plates all round.
Despite the emphasis on beer, very much so. The friendly servers are attentive and patient with children and check whether you want the kids’ meals served with your starters or mains to avoid hangry meltdowns. The children’s menu is short but sweet, with chicken strips, burgers, and pizzas. It has fast become their favourite place for us to go and eat out. So a double thumbs up from them.
Out & about
West Berkshire Brewery run tours, so you can have a nose behind the scenes and become a beery brainiac It’s worth noting, they offer a reduced menu on tour days. Love your sport? The Taproom also show large screen events like the Six Nations, Grand National and Wimbledon. A rarity in these parts, so I’ll know where to find Mr M at weekends. But if you want to work up an appetite, there are many nearby walks through woodland, fields and country lanes, to burn off some calories before hitting The Taproom and enjoying the spectacular West Berkshire countryside views. There’s a lovely circular walk behind St Paul’s & St Peter’s Church in Yattendon that is just long enough to justify a blowout.
The Muddy verdict
Good for: craft beer fans, a weekend family lunch, after-work drinks, large casual get togethers. It’s a cool hangout and particularly lovely in the sunshine.
Bad for: Refined ladies-who-lunch types – it’s not the place to daintily nibble a salad. Lunch with elderly parents. They just won’t understand the lack of table service and crisp white table cloths.
££: Reasonable for this neck of the woods. Sharing boards are around £14, burgers £12, pizzas from £9. Children’s menu: £6 for a main and £3 for a tub of ice cream. Light bar snacks like scotch egg, whitebait and calamari are from £3.50.
West Berkshire Brewery Taproom & Kitchen, The Old Dairy, Frilsham Farm, Yattendon RG18 0XT