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Wine Vaults, Southsea

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user reviews of the Wine Vaults, Southsea

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Nice Fullers pub with some characterful pine panelling. Fantastic value when you can sign up online for a free pint! Rather than drink the usual Fullers suspects, I had a couple of beers from Gosport's Oakleaf Brewery which were good pints - shame the brewery went into administration last week.
paul_d102 - 7 Aug 2016 21:06
My first visit to this place last Frifday night, obviously busy, but still served fairly quickly. Yes, it's a Fullers pub, so you know what you are going to get, but the landlord still has to keep it properly!

10/10 for the Gales HSB, very nice, a little bit more pricey than some other places, but actually served in quite nice surroundings!
Ade.The.Raider - 12 Mar 2015 15:53
Haven't been in for nearly a year, as it was £3-90 a pint, a quid more than Little Johnny Russell's opposite. Used to have a top choice of beers but last time in it seemed to be much like any other of the Fullers pubs in Southsea. Had to chuckle last time I was there - someone asked for their G&T to be served in a glass, rather than a jam jar and the bar staff serving them refused!
Sil - 15 Sep 2013 19:34
Must say, on reading reviews The Wine Vaults has been much improved lately ( Nov 2012 ) but yes, still remains quite pricey - although perhaps this does keep the more respectful type of clients - However, would very much disapprove the adoption of 'Jam Jars' being used to serve Whisky and the like - pretty sure the 'Spirits' wouldn't approve! Has somewhat disappointed our love and respect of the establishment!
toneandkaren - 7 Nov 2012 19:29
Called in on Tuesday on an Albert Street crawl. Busiest of the pubs which made for getting served difficult - too many barstanders/sitters.
Several real ales on but it was hard to see up the bar to find out what they were. Popular foodie place with a few families in.
Beer was ok
LickeyEndBooze - 1 Nov 2012 08:12
Man this place is expensive! Beer is okay, food pretty good but we're talking London prices. They've also adopted the mulitplex policy of only employing teenagers and there are certainly some training issues to be addressed. Also, my friend ordered a coffee (at lunchtime on a Sunday) and got a cup of tea with the teabag left in. I'll go elsewhere and and save a few bob I think...
boozerbill - 31 Aug 2012 17:53
A bit dingy inside, especially at the bar...I'm sure it used to be a bit brighter than this?
Got served quick enough by attentive bar staff, but was disappointed to see none of Fullers seasonal beers on the pumps, by far the most expensive pint of the day too.
I'll go back as its not a bad place by a long way, it just has a lot of untapped potential to be better?
FLO - 5 Dec 2011 10:57
Doesn't have quite the same character it used to before it was bought by Fullers, however the draught Bengal Lancer was very more-ish when I visited the other night. Agree with the previous poster who stated that it tends to rely on its old reputation and punters who have affection for it. The other Mike Hughes establishments on Albert Rd are too similar to the original pre-Fullers Wine Vaults concept, and therefore too similar to each other !
Still, not a bad boozer, though...
Reverend - 23 Mar 2011 17:49
If one chooses to see this through the prism of the "raucous yoof pub" idiom, then I am bound to say one would not be entirely errant; the so-called Wine Vaults were, on my visit on a busy Friday night at any rate, loud, full of under-30s and very crowded. It did not bode well for a quality clutch of pints and a decent conversation. Indeed I wondered how such an apparently typical "Cresta Run" kind of establishment came to display the words "Real Ale Bar" so boldly on its frontage.
That said, for all its town-centrist grime-bound leanings, I did find the beer to be both varied and in reasonable nick when I sampled it. Fuller's Bengal Lancer on splendid form as was the Porter. Not quite what I expected - moreover, I was even served pretty quickly despite the intense competition for attention, although to suggest that there is anything like an exact science in that regard would be folly; it's luck as much as anything. But service not only came swiflty, but efficiently and with a smile. Sorry folks, but I wasn't expecting that!

As for the conversational element I look forward to whilst in a pub, the noise did rather limit the possibilities, but perhaps on a quieter shift it would be more viable.

Decor and interior atmosphere score poorly I fear, as it pretty much resembled a mosh pit in places - rather gothic in fact. I guess that's the main market they're pitching to, but a spring clean and lick of paint mightn't be a bad idea.

TWG - 14 Feb 2011 17:13
Excellent real ale on sale here. Got very busy in the evening but well worth a visit.
anybody - 6 Feb 2011 10:39
I went here for the first time on Saturday and to be honest was a bit disappointed at this near legendary pub. It was busy and the beer was fine but it needs a massive clean up- the pub is filthy and the furniture knackered!!!
SotonAleDrinker - 17 Aug 2010 20:55
I visited this pub last week on are cider crawl. , And i have to say, i will never come back ever, There 4 things that stand out about this pub, ; (1) The unimaginable smell of urine which is overwhelming, If ever i came back . I would have to bring an oxygen mask . , (2). The beers was poorly kept, It make me wonder how often they clean there pipes, Or do they know how too. As for the bar staff who seen to be inexperience and they should have training dealing with real ale. We dont want the brewery to be giving a bad name. because they cant keep the beers in good order .,(3).So please give the hole place a damn good hand on cleaning. (4). ITS more expensive than the ritz,
keela - 23 Jul 2010 15:37
Used to be "the" place to go on Albert Road, owned by the marvellously sociable (if slightly one-trick pony) Mike. However, the pub became a victim of its own success, and after being sold to Fullers, couldn't really compete with the 4 or 5 almost identical establishments that sprung up within 100yds (most of which are owned by ... Mike!). However, notwithstanding the competition, it is still a bit of a "destination" establishment, and many people have considerable affection for somewhere they have always gone to in order to meet friends, or start a big night out.

The main problem with the Vaults is that they haven't redecorated the main part of the bar since taking over (although the toilets are now very plush, ironically!). As such, the walls are still the same bare plywood, the floors are the same (now very sticky) wooden boards, and the seats and tables are the same battered pews and wonky tables. This was charming in the mid 90s, when every other pub in Albert Rd was either a violent football bar or a tiny locals-only boozer, but nowadays it just isn't good enough. Compounding the problem is the smoking ban - with years worth of food, drink and vomit soaked into the wooden floor/furniture/walls, the place simply stinks (and the charming-but-useless teenage bar staff don't seem to know how to clean it).

The Wine Vaults is still an alright pub, but it rests on its laurels and relies on the habits of regulars rather than trying to right its faults - with only a small investment it could be a spectacularly good one. What it needs is a damn good clean, more comfortable seating (leather sofas, a few upholstered seats) and better training for the children behind the bar. For a barman to have to ask the ingredients in a "gin and tonic" is just ridiculous. My rating - 6/10.
wes_mantooth - 26 Jan 2010 08:06
first time back in this bar for a few years and alas the beer was poorly kept and we couldn't get out quick enough
Splodge68 - 25 Sep 2009 00:54
I visited this pub on a saturday night after watching my team play at Fratton Park. I couldn't have asked for more. Really good music & some good real ales.
realalechav - 2 Jun 2009 22:15
more expensive than covent garden!!!
3.80 for a pint of peronni.
alealealeale - 6 Jan 2009 17:32
Hello Mike from Amsterdam/ Hoofddorp,
Congratulations with the 16th anniversary of The Wine Faults (it was still 5 November 1992?)
I was in Porthsmouth a few years ago and I enjoyed a few evenings the city. Hopefully I will return next year. I let you know. Frans
beide_tollemans - 5 Nov 2008 17:30
this was a good pub, but has realy gone down hill now;
seems to have lost all its atmosphere for some reason, the refit seems to have made it false plastic like any other pub-out-of-a-box.
Shame, Real ales can be a bit hit and miss, but when on form they are great.
Maybe resting too much on its past reputation; needs a new spark to bring it back.
Staff are all very pleasent though.. but the toilets are still very poor.

come on guys, what happened??
secretreveiwer - 10 Jan 2008 16:18
This is a good pub. However it HAS gone downhill a bit since being taken over by Fullers. I used to think their "Nachos Grande" was the best meal ever for a Saturday/Sunday afternoon - but the portions have got smaller and the guacemole/salsa now taste like they come out of a jar. What a shame. Having said that it is still a great place for a few drinks with friendly staff and locals.
jonesor - 3 Aug 2007 11:41
Definately over priced! The venue itself is great for all age groups!
Passion - 9 Jan 2007 15:01
Was in there last night , bloody packed but bloody good !
W980501 - 9 Dec 2006 10:09
Can get VERY crowded at weekends. Popular with crawls owing to large size (it's actually 4 old shops knocked into one building). Bare floors, well kept beer. Less smoky than the 5th hants across the road, and best of all I found 20 on the floor last time I was in there. fantastic! High student population in term time. No pool table, no juke box. Started as a microbrewery in one old shop before expanding both sides.
JKRB - 2 Dec 2006 10:16
used to be THE place to be but under fullers its now a fading star, overpriced. once the staff where good and friendly and knew about the beers that are available, not now though, try the phoenix round the corner for a genuine welcome
littlecon - 5 Nov 2006 12:39
Definitely one of the liveliest places in Southsea on a Friday or Saturday night with a great atmosphere. The beer selection seems to be narrowing since the Fullers takeover - I used to go there for a nice pint of Summer Lightning. The nachos remain a generous-sized favourite on their bar menu.
stephnine - 29 Jun 2006 14:49
A Pompey Institution.

Jesper - 25 May 2006 15:54
Been here a few times and have always enjoyed it. Has decent food and a range of ales. Also, handy for a curry as there a quite a few restaurants nearby.
blamm - 15 Nov 2005 17:59
The change of hands seems to be a Fuller's takeover, and on the evidence of a couple of visits in the last week it is no bad thing.

Things had reached a point for me where I rarely bothered with the WV any more, because the beer policy had become boring and prices were becoming poor value for money. At one time there was regular rotation of ales, and new guests were a regular feature, but when one particular guy who was managing the place went, the rot set in. This pub for years was one of a very small number in the city which took real ale seriously, and it still attracts a high rating even if it had lost its edge.

Maybe in time the Fullers lineup will get a bit boring too, but the beers aren't at all common in Pompey (London Pride excepted) so for now they are a refreshing change and an improvement. They are also carrying Belle Vue Framboise and Kriek in bottles.

Punters who are upset by the change will almost certainly find the old beer portfolio reproduced by the WV's ex-owner in the "Duck" bar which has been seperated out of the One Eyed Dog, and which is a sort of mini-WV. I quite like it, and although it may be a sort of opening offer, there are various reduced prices for daytimes and Monday nights.

Food (esp. in the "Vines" annexe) has always been a very strong point and it will be interesting to see if anything changes. God help them if they tinker with the excellent Sunday roasts.....

First time visitors shouldn't be put off by the vast expanses of bare wood in this cavernous pub - while it looks Spartan, it is still very welcoming.
SJC - 26 Jul 2005 00:17
Surely the daddy of Pompey pubs, and I'm not just saying that because it's my local... Currently occupying two floors of what, presumably, used to be about four different shops, there's room for large parties down to quiet couples and everything in between, and they seem to find an extra room to add on every couple of years.

Sadly, one of these expansions must've resulted in the loss of the on-site brewing facilities, as the legendary Offyatrolli (the longest survivor from what used to be a nice little portfolio) turned into a re-badged Directors - a poor show. Still, there are always about a dozen decent real ales on tap at any one time, often featuring Hopback, Ringwood and Itchen Valley amongst others. Prices, which used to be excellent, have risen excessively in the last couple of years - currently averaging 2.40 a pint - but there are still some bargains to be had (especially in combination with food) if you arrive at the right time and carefully check the signs. Also of note are the Chilli Nachos, and whilst the quality sometimes falls short of their mythical status, no one's going to complain about the quantity... It often gets stupidly busy Friday and Saturday nights, so be prepared for a long haul to the bar. I'm afraid I have to drop them a point for the loss of Shakey's pork scratchings; it's just not the same without them!

The Vaults has just changed hands (last Thursday!), so the future is uncertain... it's had its ups and downs in the ten years I've known it (I'd have ranked it 9 at some points), so only time will tell if we're at a brave new dawn or on the brink of a tragic downward spiral - or will it just be business as usual? I'll just say this - the new touchscreen tills make me nervous...
GB_Joe - 11 Jul 2005 14:09

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