I know some people think that travelling round the country on rickety trains (and increasingly rickety legs) is daft, when there’s such exciting beer close to home, but I care little for the beer. If I didn’t follow the path of the Guide and locally “recommended” pubs, I’d never get to drink with real people in real pubs like today’s pair on the A120.
I’ve decided that as soon as the new Beer Guide is released on 14 September, I’m going to drink Doom Bar or Greene King IPA (or other so-called dull beer) whenever the chance arises. Which will be more frequent than you might expect.
The A120 is one of the world’s great slow roads, dragging you slowly through picture postcards villages like Little Hadham that weren’t designed for lorries escaping fuel spills on the M11.
The European tourists flooding in to Stansted will be, I guess, forsaking the traditional joys of Stortford and Mountfitchet for craft bars in Bethnal Green and Bermondsey. Which is a bit like English folk flying to Nuremberg and missing out on the proper boozers of Erlangen.
The Three Horseshoes in tiny Hazel End was tourist-free, except for a few UK pub visitors drawn by local “recommendation“. Perhaps the least inconspicuous pub photography of the year there, Sir.
In contrast to the typical Essex boozers up the road, this is the archetypal Essex casual dining pub. You’ll find similar in Epping, Thaxted, Manningtree and Saffron Walden.
The beer range won’t come as a shock either.
2 pints of 1664 on the bar, so no obvious steer for my choice. So I started my year of Doom Bar with a cellar cool, well-presented pint which wasn’t unpleasant but suggested I may be in for a tough year (NBSS 3+). No evil craft keg for Mrs RM either.
Certainly a proper scummy head, helped no doubt by the turbulence from overhead Ryanair planes. Why do you never see plane spotters in pub gardens ?
Across the Herts border, and a rare trip to Standon (or Lower Puckeridge if you wish to annoy the locals) gives you the other local speciality, an unspoilt Greene King house with award-winning floral display.
Whether the Star used to be supplied from the brewery at Furneux Pelham, I neither know nor care. Someone will.
Standon has the effortless beauty of the Herts/Essex borders. And a sour dough bakery.
But you’ll see from those threatening cloudswhy we weren’t chancing the walk to Cold Christmas and back.
The public room at the Star was deserted.
So we joined the three Old Boys on the Guinness in the lounge, which may as well have been the public. From a choice of IPA, Abbot and Landlord, I of course chose the IPA. There was no evil craft keg for Mrs RM. It was, again, solid and unspectacular (NBSS 3).
Unlike the conversation about “rip-torn westerns“, chips served in high heeled shoes, and obscure medical complaints. It was worth £3.60 to hear the local pronunciation of Bunting-FORD, which was as old as the pub.
You don’t come here for food after 2pm, and you won’t get chips served in high heeled shoes at any time. As the check-shirted Old Boy said “How do they serve cheesy chips in a high heeled shoe“. How indeed.