Essex pubs: 9 great places if you love real ale

ChiccoDodiFC, Thinkstock

ChiccoDodiFC, Thinkstock - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Nothing beats a good pint of ale, whether you’ve got a favourite that you stick to or you like to try as many varieties as possible we’ve picked 9 pubs that you’ve got to visit

1. The Ale House, Chelmsford

Situated just a short stroll from Chelmsford High Street, and a stone’s throw from the train station, is The Ale House. Housed in two old railway arches, with panelled walls and curved ceilings, The Ale house has a unique character that grows on you quickly.

They stock a huge selection of drinks, with 12 varieties of ale, 12 ciders and five German lagers on tap. There is also a very eclectic assortment of bottled beers from around the world to work your way through.

They don’t serve hot food, but do have a delicious selection of bar snacks such as crisps, peanuts, pickled eggs and various flavours of biltong – they will also provide plates and cutlery if you wish to bring your own food.

2. The Sunny Sailor, Maldon

The Sunny Sailor is set in a 450 year old listed building overlooking the Chelmer River in the town of Maldon. With an original inglenook fireplace lit in winter and a glorious raised deck outside for the summer months, The Sunny Sailor is the perfect spot in any weather.

They stock a large selection of lagers and real ales including the locally brewed favourite ‘Sunny Boy’ which is exclusive to the pub. This golden ale is kept casked in one of the fireplaces where customers are encouraged to pour their own pints!

3. The Ship Pub, Chelmsford

The traditional and classically decorated Ship Pub in Chelmsford is well known in the area for its warm atmosphere and friendly staff and has been hugely popular with locals and visitor alike for many years. As a ‘Cask Marque’ accredited establishment they always keep at least 6 ales on tap, three of which are regulars and three guest that are changed up regularly. The food is tasty and well priced traditional pub-grub featuring classics such ‘curry of the week’, ‘bangers and mash’ and ‘fish and chips’.

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4. The Broker Freehouse, Leigh-on-Sea

The Broker Freehouse in Leigh-on-Sea has been running since 1992 and is the epitome of a local pub for the local people. Welcoming, family-friendly and traditional, they take pride in what they do. They’re well known for hosting various events including cracking quiz nights as well as raising money for local charities.

They stock a stunning beer collection that they regularly change up with all sorts of ales from local favourites to unknown oddities. As if that wasn’t enough they even host a annual beer festival that features beers from all the country.

5. The Square & Compasses, Chelmsford

You can’t beat a traditional country pub, and that’s exactly what The Square and Compasses is. The 17th Century freehouse in the hamlet of Fuller Street is reported to date all the way to back to 1652 starting off as two farmers cottages, and has now been lovingly restored by the owners and still retains a lot of it original features.

The atmosphere inside is cosy, with an assortment of comfortable furniture and eclectic antiques, perfect for relaxing on a Sunday with a glass of one of their many real ales. Their tap room features an excellent selection of draught beers, country ciders and real ales served from the stillage right behind the bar.

6. The Olde Trout Tavern, Southend-on-Sea

This traditionally styled ale house in Southend is the ideal place for a peaceful drink with friends, especially if you’re passionate about ales. They offer an ever changing assortment of real and craft ales that they’ve worked hard to source from all over the UK. They understand the importance of supporting local businesses, and where they can they source their ales from local, Essex-based micro-breweries. Since October 2011 they have served over 1,000 different varieties of ale, they even serve the occasional scrumpy cider!

7. The Three Wise Monkeys, Colchester

The Three Wise Monkeys in Colchester is the ale house of the 21st Century. A huge freehouse split over four floors right in the centre of the city, each floor has its own theme; the ground floor being the dedicated Tap House that serves a staggering range of beers both cask and keg. In fact they serve so many varieties that they offer customers ‘beer racks’ allowing them to sample four types of beer in 1/3 pint glasses – genius!

When you start to feel peckish, have a wander up to the first floor where you’ll find the kitchens serving up slow-cooked, American style smoked barbecue and mouth-watering gourmet burgers.

8. The Eagle, Brentwood

The Eagle is proper family pub, sitting in the village of Kelvedon Hatch it’s a real pillar for the community and always offers a warm, inviting welcome. The bar boasts two permanent ales and three guest ales that are changed up frequently, as well five draught lagers and a selection of draught ciders. These can be enjoyed from the comfort of the bar or if the sun is shining from the beautiful and spacious beer garden – there’s even a play area for the kids.

Although food is served daily, the real selling point are the Sunday lunches, served with all the trimmings fresh from the pub’s kitchen, they’re a perfect sidekick to your pint of real ale.

9. The Fox Inn, Matching Tye

This 18th Century charming village pub in Matching Tye, Brentwood is the perfect place to enjoy a cask ale. As a freehouse it’s able to buy from a variety of different breweries allowing them to stock all of your popular favourites and, at the same time, experiment with a selection of unique and exotic products.

Open seven days a week the pub is full of character and exudes a thoroughly relaxing atmosphere; they even have 12 luxury en-suite bedrooms for guests that choose to stay over. After an afternoon of sampling the ales and indulging in the wholesome classics from their extensive menu you might find the rooms come in handy.

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