My penultimate Essex tick for GBG22 came on the outskirts of Maldon, beloved of at least one former Pub Man of the Year on this blog.

Maldon is an Essex highlight, even if it’s been a while since the town itself tempted me back with a new entry that wasn’t a micro or brewery tap.

Sophie’s Kitchen was great. Good espresso and staff singing along to a flamenco version of “Sound of Silence“.

The gentlefolk visitors aren’t yet back in full force on the majestic Quay,

which occupied an hour of time after visiting the White Horse at Mundon, a mile south of town.

Despite a captivating gnome + 80s soaps (?) offer the White Horse wasn’t packed, either.

Just one couple finishing their fish and chips, bemused by my photographic interest in horse brasses and pump clips.

Essex does the “pubs that look like they did in 1982” thing better than anywhere except the Isle of Man, and they also do flat beer on gravity better than most (see also : the multi award winning Swan in Little Totham).

The landlady, a real gem, may have mistaken me for a “beer man” as she spoke of checking corks and aeration and spiles, but the result was a superbly cool, rich Red Fox Puck’s (something), an easy NBSS 3.5+. No, make that a 4.

Good quality beer is pretty much a given in Essex, Guide pubs or not. If they can’t sell cask, they don’t bother stocking it. If the can, they sell a lot.

But it’s the banter as much as the beer that drives Essex, and it won’t be long before the pubs are back where they were with enthusiastic publicans talking darts, DJs and Sunday roasts.

Sadly, yet another trip to Maldon without venturing over the causeway to Northey Island. I must rectify that, even if it remains proudly publess.


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