The Vaults (Wine Vaults)
41-47 Albert Road
023 9286 4712
Actual Opening Hours: Mon-Thu 12:00 ’til 23:00; Fri Sat 12:00 ’til 00:30; Sun 12:00 ’til 22:30
Opened in 1987 in a converted shop, the Wine Vaults’ name was initially deceiving, as it was actually Portsmouth’s premier ale house, serving around a dozen cask beers (and no lagers) on tap. Over the years the pub has been extended into three adjacent units and also operated its own microbrewery for a short time in the mid 1990s. In 2005 the pub was sold to London brewer Fuller Smith & Turner, who thankfully retained the pub’s rustic feel and maintained a good selection of cask beers, offering at least three guests alongside four of its own range. By 2013 the pub’s name had been trunkated to simply as The Vaults.
The pub’s main bar stocks seven cask beers (four from the Fuller’s stable, plus three guests from small independent producers). Additionally, a changing, hand-pulled cider is also sold. The chill cabinets are stocked with interesting bottled ales from Belgium and the USA, such as Delirium Tremens, Westmalle Dubbel, Kona Longboard and Big Wave. Keg fonts dispense the likes of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Chimay Dorée Gold and Leffe Blonde. Six single malt whiskies and a large range of other spirits and wines is also offered. Food is served throughout the day.
The pub has bare floorboarding throughout, which also covers much of the wall space. Furnishings mostly comprise simple tables and chairs and there is a small number of upholstered stools at the bar counter. A large mirror adorning the rear wall commemorates the now-defunct Spikes Brewery and the original fireplace contains a wood burner. Framed prints of old Portsmouth are hung on the walls along with a small number of works by local artists and some framed images in the style of art deco railway posters.
A third room, the Snug Bar, contains a second, smaller servery that is now home to the pub’s ‘craft beer bar’. A single cask ale is dispensed at the bar and there are seven keg fonts dispensing a range of quality international beers. Additionally, a number of taps on the rear wall are used to pour ‘craft’ products from UK microbreweries as well as more established Belgian and German brews. Forty to fifty bottled ales are also stocked. In February 2017, the pub introduced a new house beer by the name of Hop Rod, brewed exclusively for the pub by Portsmouth’s Staggeringly Good Brewery.
Upstairs is a large seating and games area, where table football can be played. A large pizza oven can be found here, beside a disused piano that now serves as a sideboard.
The Vaults hosts live jazz on alternate Tuesdays, other live music on Thursdays and DJs on Saturdays.
Pub Operator: Fuller Smith & Turner
Reviewed 5th February 2015 (updated 27th February 2017)
Photographs: (above) 16th March 2015; (below, left to right) 19th September 2004; 11th May 1989.
The Victoria & Albert
2 Albert Road
023 9283 0184
Actual Opening Hours: Mon-Thu 11:00 ’til 23:00; Fri Sat 11:00 ’til 23:30; Sun 12:00 ’til 23:00
Originally Southsea Police Station, this premises was converted in 1996 by Allied Breweries into the Fuzz & Firkin brewpub. The brewer was known for his prolific production of interesting one-off brews, but alas, the chain was sold to West Midlands-based pubco M&B and the company hastily turned its back on the brewpub concept. The brewer soon found re-employment at the newly opened Buckland Brewery at the Winchester Arms and is now head brewer at Gosport’s Fallen Acorn Brewery.
In 2001 the pub was refurbished and reopened as the Goose At The V & A, changing its name to the Victoria & Albert in 2013. What we have now is a large, well appointed, single bar pub, carpeted throughout and furnished with a mixture of traditional tables and chairs, banquettes and upholstered armchairs. A raised area in the rear corner of the pub contains a series of back-to-back booths. Two ornate chandeliers are hung in the central bar area and the walls display a collection of framed prints of Portsmouth past. There are gaming machines around the pub and an ATM for those short of cash. Sky Sports is used to show major football and rugby union matches. Outside is a patio garden overlooking the junction of Victoria and Albert Roads.
Three well-priced real ales are sold (Greene King IPA, Old Speckled Hen and Wadworth 6X) plus a range of keg lagers, cider, wines and spirits. Bottled Innis & Gunn Original is also stocked. A comprehensive food menu is offered all day.
Reviewed 5th February 2015
Pub Operator: Mitchells & Butlers
(above) 16th March 2015; (below, left to right) 19th September 2004; April 2002 (by Ray Scarfe); June 1999 (by Ray Scarfe); 7th February 1999.
Actual Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11:00 ’til 00:00
This corner pub was built in 1976 for national brewer Whitbread until being sold to Ushers of Trowbridge in the mid 1990s. Following the demise of Ushers in 2000, the pub changed hands again and became a genuine free house.
The single bar room is mostly frequented by local drinkers – the pub tending to miss out on the local tourist trade, who generally favour the larger, smarter pubs closer to the Historic Dockyard or in Gunwharf Quays. Unfortunately, the Victory has historically seemed to have had trouble shaking off a somewhat seamy reputation for being a hang-out of ne’er-do-wells – which in the past has resulted in the suspension of the house’s liquor license on more than one occasion.
Various makeovers and refits have been undertaken over the years – often in between lengthy periods of closure. Indeed, the block that the pub stands on was earmarked for demolition in 2015/16, though a stay of execution appears to have been granted, as the Victory surprisingly reopened for business once again in May 2017.
DJs and karaoke events are hosted on weekend evenings.
Further details regarding the latest reopening shall appear here soon.
Pub Operator: G Evans
Updated Review Pending
Photographs, (above): 30th September 2006; (below, left to right): March 1999 (by Ray Scarfe); 11th May 1989; unknown date (by David Corsar).
Actual Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 12:00 ’til 23:30; Sat 12:00 ’til 00:00; Sun 12:00 ’til 23:00
The Victory Bar can be found within the impressive art deco surroundings of the former Royal Navy Sailors’ Rest Home – now an hotel and leisure complex open to the public. The large, open-plan single room is comfortably furnished with upholstered armchairs set around traditional tables, with a line of stools along the bar counter. The floor is boarded around the bar area, with carpeting elsewhere. As one would expect, maritime prints adorn the walls and a large mural of HMS Victory adorns the south wall. An impressively large model of Nelson’s flagship can be seen above the bar itself.
A number of televisions are provided, together with a jukebox and games machine. A small outside terrace serves as a smoking area.
A rather unimaginative range of keg bitter, lager and cider is stocked, together with wines and spirits. The saving grace for the more discerning beer drinker is the choice of Guinness Dublin Porter and West Indies Porter than can be found in bottles.
Pub Operator: Royal Maritime Club (Free House)
Reviewed 11th July 2016