Tuesday, 21 June 2016

A Crawl Around Colchester

Since Sammie is going to be doing a course at the University of Essex from October, we decided to pop down to Colchester on Saturday so that she could ask a few questions and figured it'd be rude not to check out the drinking establishments of the town whilst we were there.

After we'd done at the university, we got the bus back into the city centre and stopped at The Castle Inn which is one of those historic pubs that attract tourists. Touristy pubs generally aren't that great, and don't care about the beer in my experience so I feared the worst, but my pint of Adnams Ghost Ship was tasting very fresh and delicious, and Sammie seemed to enjoy her Broadside. The pub itself wasn't particularly busy, but there were a few people mostly drinking lager and cider. It had one of those pub scratchcard machines that I didn't realise still exist.

Next up was Queen Street Brewhouse which is attached to the local Pitfield brewery. As I walked through the door, the barman looked over and I heard him say "oh shit" so I was thinking "Erm... what the fuck?" but we proceeded to the bar and chatted to him, when I finally realised that I do know Alex from the last time I was in Colchester - he'd previously been working at The Vic (which I'll get to later) and recalled a story of me being completely smashed, ordering a pint of Dark Star APA and spilling it all over myself. Sounds about right! Queen Street Brewhouse is a long, narrow, wooden clad pub with 8 keg lines pouring beers from all over Europe, as well as cask lines from local breweries and the wonderful Green Jack in Lowestoft. I had a half of kegged Northern Monk Neapolitan Pale which tasted remarkably like Neapolitan ice cream; incredible scenes. Sammie had a half of a local stout which was alright too. One thing that astounded me was how cheap Delirium was at £6 a pint!

We were warned that The Odd One Out is rather odd and that it's a very old fashioned pub, and that's exactly what it was. The pub is split into two rooms and when you first walk in the door, you see a bunch of keg taps sitting on the bar, all branded founts, no craft but instead, the lesser spotted Oranjeboom. You go through the arch to the left into the main bar to find a bank of four or five hand pumps adorning the bar, prices proudly displayed to the penny. A very reasonable price of £3.24 was paid for two halves of Billericay Mayflower Gold and that's when we discovered how old fashioned the pub really was; the stern faced lady behind the bar had finished pouring one of our halves into a stemmed glass and Sammie passed it to me, but the lady would not allow it "No, that's for you because it's a girly glass" she said in an almost threatening manner, before finishing pouring my nonic half and grunting "that's a slightly more manly glass, hmph". We sat down with our drinks and felt uncomfortable, too much so to even half a conversation out of fear that the stern lady would tell us to be quiet. Needless to say, we swiftly finished our beers and headed off.

Our next stop absolutely had to be The Fat Cat because the original in Norwich is our local and we were dying to see whether it looks exactly the same as all of the Norwich ones, but much to our surprise, it didn't! It was bright and fresh and new. There were 5 or 6 handpumps adorning the bar but they were out of  use, with all of the ales being served from gravity in the back room. There were a few keg beers and given how I was very hot, I just wanted a nice glass of Pilsner Urquell. The cask selection was predictably Fat Cat Brewery, Adnams and Crouch Vale, so rather uninspiring really.

Popped across the road to Alehouse next; a large pub with football on TV and a billards table. Again, several hand pumps on the bar but all of the beers were actually served from gravity. I had a Maldon Endeavour, and the lady serving us warned that it was brown which struck me as odd because all of the beers on offer were brown. It was a nice brown beer, according to Untappd. Sammie had Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde, which was what it was.

The New Inn came next with it's charming WWII bomb sign hanging off the building. We walked in to what I imagine were fairly new owners because we kept getting disturbed by someone doing DIY in the pub, putting a curtain rail up. Had a very decent half of Fuzzy Duck Muddy Duck, a stout, and watched the football whilst having the occasional laugh about the noise with the lady behind the bar.

Not on our list was The Fox and Fiddler but we just thought we'd pop in since we were passing; we sat at the bar and I had a very decent Mighty Oak Ace, a sorachi ace hopped best bitter though the pub itself was rather unremarkable.

Right next door to that, a sign peaked my curiosity; that sign belonged to a Wetherspoons pub called The Playhouse appropriately because it's an old theatre. Said sign was advertising itself as a craft beer bottle shop so we popped in. The bottle selection was the same as every spoons pretty much, but they had a dedicated 5 tap "craft" T bar sporting Shipyard, Devil's Backbone, Adnams Mosaic, Adnams DHL and Thwaites 13 Guns - the latter I was most surprised at - they also had Wetherspoons craft bottle shop branded 4 bottle carriers. I decided to go for a very reasonable pint of Thwaites 13 Guns (even though I got sick of it after drinking an entire case of 24 that I won, to myself within a week the other month) whilst Sammie had the latest Yeastie Boys JDW special, Nerdherder which was pretty damn good. The pub itself certainly is beautiful, with all of the original theatre fixtures and fittings and an island bar. It might just be my favourite Spoons I've ever been to (and I've been to a lot).

We discovered The Purple Dog next, which I wasn't a fan of and looking at the ales on offer, all of which I'd had, curiosity got the better of me and I made poor judgement in a kegged Caledonian Coast to Coast, which I assume was meant to be named for travelling from the east to the west of the USA but was more like Aberdeen to Prestatyn if it were a beer. Horrible.

Three Wise Monkeys came next, which was definitely on my hitlist. It's a massive space with tables dotted around everywhere and seemingly very few chairs. Standard keg taps on the back wall affair, with handpumps on the bar. I had Kona Longboard Lager, which I've been a far of for quite a while, whilst Sammie went for my mate Jack's Hellhound Black Shuck which was tasting brilliant as always.

We popped into The Marquis next and just had a half of Guinness because it just seemed like a dreadful place. Sammie insisted on popping in considering she used to drink there when she used to have to visit Colchester for work.

The last stop was the only pub in Colchester I've ever been to, despite not remembering the first time, The Victoria Inn which had a beer festival on. I wish I wasn't a little bit tipsy this time too as I would have absolutely loved to have stayed for a few more but alas, it had been a long day (on top of a hangover) so I just had a couple that I didn't even log on Untappd. The Vic is a truly outstanding pub, and I'll definitely go back, although maybe the first stop next time...

All in, Colchester pubs are pretty good. Managed to drink quite a few decent beers that we don't see frequently in Norwich so I can't complain! Definitely worth it for a pub crawl.

1 comment:

  1. Let me know if you are planning a trip to Chelmsford ;)

    ReplyDelete