Wednesday 30th November 2016
At first I wondered about the name of this pub, why Cow? Then, the penny dropped as I realised it was just off Market Street. So I checked it out and found that there was once a Cattle Market alongside the building that houses this micropub. Presumably it was on the site of the present-day Bus Station. The market closed in 1969.
The pub is styled as the first micropub in Berkshire, which it certainly was. On a very cold evening Linda and I arrived over the threshold at around 20.30. We were in a hurry to get there as it closes at 21.00 and as there was only one other customer so we were pretty sure that would happen, and it did. I presume the lack of clientèle had a lot to do with the weather as, when I returned the following evening it was full.
We had a chat with Ian Batho, the licensee and owner. Before he started out on this current adventure he was the tenant at the Woodpecker in Wash Water, a small settlement south east of Newbury. This is an Arkell’s (Swindon) pub and Ian says they were good bosses. It’s just that he wanted more private time and being his own boss fulfils that requirement well. In fact he runs the pub single-handedly with no staff.
He opened the pub on Friday 14th November and hasn’t looked back since. The previous use of the premises was as Jill's Dry Cleaning & Laundry Services and it had been vacant for almost two years.
Glad to be inside we ordered a beer and took a seat. There are large windows along two sides of the building and I fully appreciated the natural light when I revisited at lunchtime two days later.
First on the left side is a fitted bookcase. Then, underneath the left hand window is a shelf with some high chairs in front. Moving around the room in a clockwise direction I noticed the toilet door in the corner and next to it was a very large blackboard displaying everything sold here. This also had a small shelf under it for vertical drinking. Next was the wooden bar counter at a slight angle with three cider boxes on it.
On the wall behind are shelves for glasses and the like. Against the far right wall is the metal stillage with equipment for automatic tilting of the casks.
There is space for nine of them yet there are only two to four tapped at any one time. I noticed the mechanism to lift these was stored in the far right corner. Between the stillage and that is a table-top ice making machine and a small fridge for storing pies.
Along the main window is a pew facing inwards with two wooden tables and loose chairs in front of it. This is where most customers are accommodated. The walls are painted white on two sides of the room and red on the other two.
There are a large numbers of pump clips of beers past decorating the upper parts. Strangely, there are two trophies displayed on the wall near the door, where there is also a notice board.
There were three beers on offer when we were there: Indigenous Brewery (Chaddleworth, Berkshire) Moonstruck Porter (4.8%); West Berkshire (Yattendon, Berkshire) Firkin (6.0%) and Arkell’s (Swindon, Wiltshire) Hoperation (4.2%).
Cider devotees were taken care of by Tutt’s Clump (Bradfield, Berkshire) Berkshire Diamond (4.5%); Ciderniks (Kintbury, Berkshire) Yellow Sun (6.5%) and Lilley’s (Frome, Somerset) Strawberry Cider (4.0%). They also have keg lager from Meantime.
Wine is offered in 187ml bottles and they also have Prosecco. Posh soft drinks from Fentiman’s are offered. The usual packaged snacks are available. More substantial food are pork pies from Griffin’s butchers of Newbury.
This is a very pleasant pub and the natives are friendly. Not to be missed if you are around here.
Cow & Cask, I Inches Yard, Market Street, Newbury RG14 5DP. Tel: 07517 658071
Sunday-Monday: Closed; Tuesday-Wednesday: 17.00-21.00; Thursday: 12.00-14.00/17.00-21.00;
Friday: 12.00-14.00/16.30-22.00; Saturday: 12.00-22.00.
Newbury railway station is close by. It is served by the Great Western Railway.
There’s an hourly semi-fast service to London (Paddington). Also an hourly stopping service to Reading.
In addition some expresses to and from the West of England also call at Newbury.
There is a short cut from the station. From the main exit walk to the left. You will see a flight of steps.
There is also a road up the small hill. At the top the West Berkshire District Council’s offices are on the left.
Continue past the entrance to the Dolphin pub. Next on the left is Inches Yard and the Cask & Cow.
This walk will take less than five minutes.
Newbury Bus Station is across the road from Inches Yard.