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Discover Gravity In Essex - Good beer

Out of date. Historical reference only.




Be sociable

The purpose of this guide is to promote the traditional method of serving beer directly from the barrel.

Lets keep some little part of the good-old-days before all we have left is nostalgic memories.

To help me gauge the effectiveness of this guide, if you make any visits as a result, please tell the publicans where you read about them. Many still have mechanical tills so don't expect to settle into a chat about information super-highways!

Apart from the simple pleasure of drinking beer that hasn't been squirted through pipes and foamed up, traditional methods seem to go with a traditional atmosphere and slower, more personal way of life. The curse of the age, market forces is haunting the old ways and tiny country pubs. Some of us have to get out there and keep the best traditions alive. The only qualification you need to partake of fine ales well served it to be able to read a map.
Tell 'em the Clock-hat-man sent you
Most of the pubs here are 'rabbit holes'. There is no qualification required to join in the general conversation - have a go.

Most traditional publicans will make single people at home as a matter of course.

There is no charge for a pub to appear in this list.

Praise and patronage is all a landlord asks for...
...enjoy giving it!

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Gravity Guide


Disabled review
Introducing this guide
Serving method is important
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Pub listing


Pubs by name Pubs by village
By activities and accommodation Symbols shown below are links
Countryside and parks Rambling Fishing Golf Watersports Trains Castle Old house Air museum B&B/Hotel Caravans Camping
Accommodation Braintree D.C. Tourist Information are not interested. Tel: 01376 552 080

Attractions Essex C.C. Tourist Information are not interested. Tel: 01245 283400

Essex Miscellany


>Who's who>
>Map of Essex>
>Pubs called Compasses>
Templars, Masons and geometry. rule Unbelievable coincidences
How to get in touch

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Why serving method is important

A sparkler or swan neck is a sure sign that however subtly flavoured in the barrel, however much attention has been paid in the brewery to tickling your taste buds, and however carefully stored, by the time your beer is in the glass it will have the taste taken out. For the technically minded, it is all to do with surface chemistry which means that the bitterness migrates from the liquid body into the foam making the foam bitter at the expense of the beer.

Why put up with the cloying taste of a creamy foam when you can be transported by a light astringent froth.

For the benefit of ignorant publicans, northerners and marketing types, Essex beers should never be served foaming. Those who complain "this beer is flat" should remember that foaming takes gas out of the beer! This is not to say that handpumped beer is necessarily rubbish - use your taste buds then decide for yourself. (By the way, Tetleys tastes quite nice directly from the barrel but then it isn't allowed - perhaps the customers might make an embarrassing choice!)

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>Previous editorials>



How depressing to visit Bottle Hall at Delvin End to find reversion to just GK IPA and cider at 4 a pint. Not fit even for taking somebody else's wife out to. How encouraging to find the next on my itinerary for the evening was the White Horse at Ridgewell not only served beer at reasonable prices, not only was that beer from respected micros, but it tasted excellent (helped no doubt by being served by gravity). And the landlord was exceedingly helpful and the customers cheery. So there are good pubs still around if you look for them.

Country pubs don't need to die

The story of pubs being turned into houses is all too familiar. As the reopening of the Square and compasses, Fuller st shows this doesn't have to be the case. After just over a month and without advertising, the pub is already full of regulars. A bit of a leap of faith for the new owners perhaps but they know what they can do, know what they ought to be providing and (don't forget) are working very long hours to make it happen. We need a few more people like this and less property management companies (AKA the big brewers and chains) to maintain a vigorous and healthy local social life.20 Months later and this tiny place is buzzing.

Green beer

Green beer is beer that has come straight from the brewery. It needs at least a week at no less that 54 degrees for the character to mature. Just because GK IPA drops clear in 24 hours doesn't mean it is ready to serve. This is probably the most common (I estimate 75% of pubs serve their beer green) of indifferent character.
There is no excuse for green beer...
...if you get it complain!

Green slime

The Suffolk Swill that comes from Bury St. Edmunds. To be avoided at all costs.

Train your taste buds

Typically an indifferent pint of GK IPA will be tasted in the roof of the mouth, perhaps with a metallic taste. Typically a good pint of Adnams or Ridleys will have a first hit in the roof then clutch at the bottom and edge of your tongue. Hops tend to have the latter effect - draw your own conclusions. Some really excellent beers have an aftertaste that comes through up to a minute after sipping. This aftertaste can be almost anything except sour or metallic. This is not to say that the Suffolk-style can't be balanced, fruity and tingle the cheeks but green beer of any style will probably lack any after taste and the flavours 'flat' rather than complex. Now go and try some!
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Disabled review

Men at work I (as an able bodied person) have tried to spot the obvious access difficulties but this is not a comprehensive guide. I am trying to get some people who know about these things to do proper surveys. So for the time being treat my remarks as the work of an amateur. As soon as new information is available I'll update the guide.Any volunteers?

Many of these pubs are old, some are listed, many are cottages knocked together. Alterations in many cases would be very difficult, expensive and totally unjustified on economic grounds - remember that many of these pubs survive by a wing and a prayer anyway. The good news is that traditional pubs are run by traditional, happy-to-help-without-being-asked mature people. I hope to have a summary of the surveys with analysis and recommendations so that policy makers are fully aware of the blackspots. This is important because if we can deal with most things in the setting of old and not very profitable buildings then it shows the way forward for all pubs and clubs.Watch this space.

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Gravity pubs in Essex

Any Essex pub that normally serves by gravity is eligible for this list. I try to make the odd visit myself, but tastebuds around the county should please report the ongoing quality situation.

This list is always being revised so please tell me what I have omitted or messed up. Let me know how you find the quality of the beer. (A bad report won't mean removing the pub from the list, but it may encourage the landlord or brewery to take simple steps to improve the situation.)

Excluded pubs

Not every pub with barrels behind the bar qualifies. One, in Tendring district, has the strangest of "air pumps". This is no less than a deception. More generally a barrel is used as a gimmick by utterly untrained staff in themed pubs (or tarted down as I call it). The chances of getting decent beer from first to last pint are negligible.

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List of pubs by name

List of pubs by village

Pubs by activities and accommodation

Countryside & parks
>Cricketers, Rickling green>
>Dolphin, Stitsed>

Walking and rambling
>Compasses, Littley Green>
>Square and Compasses, Fuller street>
>Sun and Anchor, Steeple>
>Swan, Little Totham>

>Swan, Little Totham>

>Dolphin, Stisted>

>Sun and Anchor, Steeple>

Railway museum
>Bell, Castle Hedingham>
>Bottle Hall, Delvin end>
>Ridgewell, White Horse>

>Bell, Castle Hedingham>
>Bottle Hall, Delvin end>
>Cricketers Arms, Rickling Green>
>Ridgewell, White Horse>

Old house
>Cricketers Arms, Rickling green>
>Dolphin, Stisted>

Aircraft museum
>Cricketers Arms, Rickling green>

>Blue Boar hotel, Maldon>
>Cricketers Arms, Rickling Green>
>Ridgewell, White Horse>

Caravanning and Camping
>Sun and anchor, Steeple>
>Swan, Little Totham>

Editor: Peter Fox
Address: 2 Tees Close,Witham,Essex CM8 1LG
Telephone: 01 376 517 206
Copyright: Peter Fox
Updated: July 2009
E-mail: email address image

This is NOT a CAMRA publication.

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