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Taps: - / Bottles: -
Cask: / Beer-to-Go: N
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
265 North First Street
phone: (408) 947-0497
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vibe: 5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2.5 | $$
Trials is all about atmosphere. The moment you walk in the front door you feel like you've been transported to the south bank of the Thames circa 1982. From the dark lighting with over-stuffed chairs, trestle tables and working fireplace to the blaring sounds of punk rock and new wave (a recent visit was accompanied by a soundtrack including The Smiths, Misfits, Clash and Bad Brains). Throw in quiz night every Monday evening and you've got yourself a great little pub. Fortunately Trials is also sufficiently far enough away from San Jose State University that it tends not to be overwhelmed by obnoxious college kids. It is also a mere half-block from Teske's Germania - downtown San Jose's other hidden gem.
While the atmosphere is great, the food and beer is a bit less impressive. The beer selection is relatively standard fare (Hoegaarden, Stella, Kronenbourg, etc.) although they do have three decent cask-aged ales (Monk's Brown, Fat Lip Amber & Black Prince Porter). I've eaten here a couple times, and very likely will not do so again. Not that the food is terrible - just nothing exciting. Go for the atmosphere!
01-07-2012 20:23:37 |
More by KimenTshom
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 2.5 | $$
Trails Pub is an English styled pub in downtown San Jose and just a few blocks north of the hotel I stayed at. This part of downtown was a little dead, but there was life inside this pub; the smell of bangers in the air, the bowls of different varieties of chips they served, and a somewhat cozy feel among the decorations on the walls. They serve their drafts in 20 ounce imperial pints, which is nice, even better to have some decent beers available ranging from $5-5.75. I spotted a house IPA and Trumer Pils on-tap, perhaps 15 taps overall with mass-produced stuff taking most of them. They have, get this....THREE cask beers. I was excited to hear about that, but they were out of two of them. I drank my hand pumped porter, handed my tip, tried to acknowledge the bartender who seemed more interested in chatting with regulars I was leaving a tip, and left. A bit of a disappointment for me, which I blame on having only one of the three cask ales available.
05-16-2009 17:30:28 |
More by DoubleJ
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$
This place is cozy and charming. Vaulted ceilings, an authentic iron fire place, long bar and classic victorian decour and furniture. 15 or so british/irish ales on tap along with a few belgian and california brews. 3 cask beers from Marina, CA are also featured. Really good chicken curry, bangers and mash, and shepherd's pie highlight the food menu. The curry chips and fish/chips are pretty good too. This place has board games and trivia, etc. A very cool place if you want to keep things mellow and most of the customers are pretty easy going and the crowd is well diversified. If you're looking for a place to have a nice conversation with some good beer and food, it will do the trick. Additionally, there is a small patio where you can eat, drink and smoke. There is also hard alcohol and wine available at the pub.
03-16-2009 06:51:23 |
More by Nick3
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$
Well, we don't have much in the way of good bars in San Jose, so Trials is a welcome standout. A nice authentic style English pub with good food, comfortable seating, and an okay selection of beers (featuring 3 cask ales).
Service can be a bit spotty unless the bartenders know you, but nothing too absurd. The real reason you go here though, is the people. There's no loud music blaring, no wall of televisions, and no wall of popped collar twenty-somethings looking to pound some Coors Lite.
My only real complaint is the beer selection, which isn't awful, but never, ever, changes. If they could get a few rotating taps going and maybe step outside of their English Ales comfort zone a bit, I'd find myself going here more often.
02-20-2009 07:24:53 |
More by Sandstone
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | $$
After a really enjoyable german dinner at Teske's next door, my friends and I dropped by this touted beer bar for a few pints. The place looks cozy enough with sidewalk chairs and tables available out front, a dart board in the back of the bar and a generally dark British pub feel. There were a decent number of taps available and some more obscure varieties but between the four of us, only one or two pints were really satisfying. Even their Newcastle Brown was limp and lifeless. They had three cask pulls, two of which were flowing but even the bartenders were disparaging about the quality of these brews offering a free sample as proof on one offering. I agreed, dead and tasteless. The general consensus in my group was that this place was not very mindful of caring for it's beer and perhaps the selection could be more discriminating. I would return to try this again in hopes that we just caught them on a bad week. But for now I would highly recommend the German restaurant next door, Teske's, where all four beers on tap were fresh, delicious and completely satisfying (they also have a solid bottled beer selection for the BA). Trials remains guilty until proven innocent. But the place itself does have a nice neighborhood kind of feel, people hanging out at the sidewalk tables, playing darts inside, relaxed and friendly I would say. Work on that beer!!!
10-14-2008 04:16:00 |
More by Durge
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
The name comes from its proximity to San Jose's courthouses. Probably the best free house in downtown San Jose. They have the most eclectic selection of any place nearby with an emphasis on British and British style ales. Its the only place in the county where you can find the ales produced by a British Style microbrewery in the Monterey Bay area (can't remember their name though !) who's represented all the time on one or two of the hand pumps.
Trials is the most authentic English style pub that I know of in the San Francisco area, far more authentic than the Silicon Valley "British" pubs done up with oak and brass but are actually loud sports bars or pickup joints. Not that you can't find those sorts of pubs in the UK, but when I think of British pub I think of a quiet place with a lot of character and of course some interesting ales. Trials fits that description well. That's why they max out my vibe rating.
The decor is a funky mix of old school padded wood chairs and wood/marble tables. Lots of pub like stuff tacked on the wall.
The beers served on tap are generally good though I've had a pint or two out of a keg that's gone past its prime. The selection is interesting. Though there aren't many taps you'll find stuff you can't find anywhere around.
The staff are excellent and you can tell there's a pride to this joint.
08-20-2008 03:27:08 |
More by thielges
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
This is a British themed pub located in downtown San Jose, but a bit away from the busier section. It's got a cosy and comfortable atmosphere, a fireplace in the back and no TV's. The selection is good, 15-20 beers on tap, mostly european macro imports. The best part is that they have 3 casks, all from English Ales Brewery in Marina, CA. It's a cool place to hang out and have a beer with some friends. Not a place to seek out for it's beer selection but certainly not bad, especially for San Jose.
12-02-2007 05:52:09 |
More by willjschmidt
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $$
Tough to find good beer spots in San Jose that aren't full of meatheads. Yeah, there are a few places with good beer selections, but invariably that's offset by obnoxiously loud dance music after dark or bartenders who think we've come to see them put on a show, or low-brow patrons who think a good bartender is someone who can flip a glass behind his back.
Trials is an oasais. No television for starters, which for a sports fan like myself can be a detriment during say the World Series, but it keeps the focus on conversation. Atmosphere is always freindly. Music is cool, but relegated to the background. Staff is friendly. Beer selection is quality if not quantity, but I must confess I have pretty much exclusively gravitated toward the cask ales. Three handles, two of which are excellent and I don't remember if I've tried the third (that would be the lighter of the three). If there's a more relaxing place in San Jose to enjoy a pint after work I have't discovered it yet.
Only drawback for me is the hours. They don't open until 5PM, which is a shame because their food menu trumps a lot of my favorite downtown lunch spots.
11-21-2007 05:46:25 |
More by Rzzzzz
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$
My friends and I have recently discovered this pub and we love it.
The atmosphere is very laid back and casual. Even on a Saturday night we can come in and it's not loud with blaring music. Which adds to the atmosphere, you can talk amongst yourselves without shouting.
At the back of the pub is a correctly laid out dart board with a scoring board for cricket, 301, 501, etc. I love bringing my darts here, it completes the atmosphere. And since my friends play as well it adds to the enjoyment.
The beer selection is very good. They've got a lot of beers on tap that you don't usually find around here. As has been mentioned they have three cask beers which are hand pulled. The fat lip is excellent, I have to have a pint every time I go. I try and have at least one new to me beer each outing and so far I've not been disappointed by any of them. The 1664 is also becoming one of my favorites.
The food is spot on. The bangers and mash are right out of a local British Pub outside London. The shepards pie however is my favorite. Just the right amount of marmite. The sasuage rolls are also a must have.
Out behind the pub is a beergarden which is part of the German restaurant right next to the pub. Many times they'll have a polka band playing out there. I find it just adds to the ambiance.
The staff is very cordial and knowledgeable about the beers they serve. I think they enjoy working there as much as we enjoy coming there.
10-04-2007 21:54:29 |
More by thread
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | $$$
Immediately when I walked into the pub I was digging the vibe. Very laid back atmosphere unlike many of the noisy bars in downtown San Jose. They had a dart board which really added to our enjoyment of the bar. The bartenders were very attentive and friendly. I was impressed with the fact that they had 3 cask beers which no other place in san jose (to my knowledge) has alongside quite a few selections of brews on tap. A bit pricey however I liked the feel none the less. If you are in the mood for a laid back place to hang out with friends and knock a couple cold ones back, this is your pub.
08-16-2007 09:23:59 |
More by Lothore
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Trials Pub in San Jose, CA