While some GBG
obssessives completists finish off Loch Ness or Swaledale, I focused on Essex. There’s a hundred and thirteen GBG pubs in this most underrated county, and according to my unique scoring system, only three of those had duff beer.
There’s some gorgeous pubs in Old Leigh, but newer Southend isn’t a hotbed of real ale, let alone craft, averaging just a couple of GBG entries annually. Astonishingly, it’s ten years since the famed Cork & Cheese closed just after the s*****g ban, leaving the Trout as the only obvious real ale specialist. I’ve had some good pints of Courage down by Marine Parade over the years, though.
In many ways it really is the Bournemouth of the east.
And it takes longer than you’d believe to get there, particularly by car. “Take the A13” sang Billy Bragg, foretelling the road to hell that is the A127 at present.
The approach via Sutton Road passes mobility scooter shops, retirement homes, and finally some striking tower blocks to the east of town,
and ending at the venerable Sutton Arms.
There’s not many candidates for my annual Underpass Art Top 10, but the promise of nirvana isn’t, for once, a false one.
Turning off the High Street at KFC, I suddenly thought I was in Dulwich.
The Railway looks like the Antic Pub you dreamed of, but turns outs to be run by Punch. Only the tighter (i.e. sensible) beer range gives it away. This former Charrington house is on the National Inventory, and it shows.
Perhaps I’m wrong, and it is just shabby without the chic, but it convinced me, and clearly a wide range of punters. Plenty of takers for the vegetarian food, but plenty of old blokes on the 3pm pints as well. Some genuinely weird ’70s music could have been Viv Stanshall; whatever it was it created a singular atmosphere that I loved. Twitter suggest that Steve Ignorant from Crass played here recently, which I’m sorry I missed.
The wonderful Adnams Mosaic (thin glass apart) was my second NBSS 4 beer of the month, which must be a first. Perhaps they can even make the Wherry taste good ?
Over to you, Shoeburyness…