The brewery has been in operation for a couple of years, with a small shop attached, but towards the end of 2014 they opened a micropub in the adjoining unit, selling their own beers alongside those from other local breweries. Landlord and brewer Trevor told me that the wooden stillage behind the bar was built by one of the regulars. As a fan of the late Ian Dury, how could I resist a pint of their Billericay Dickie! I suggested to Trevor that he should consider naming one of his beers “Clever Trevor” – alas 0/10 for originality, it turned out I was not the first person to suggest that!! So I retired to a table with my friends and a pint of Chapel (not Janet!) Street Porter.
The brewery and micropub buildings are set back quite a few yards from the road, so there may be some potential for an outside drinking area in the summer. We’ll have to pay a return visit!
The Hop Beer Shop and Micropub is on a shopping street in the centre of Chelmsford. Landlord John is a former publican and had been considering taking on another pub tenancy when he learned about micropubs. After research visits to several of the Kent micropubs, John was inspired to open his own, and within about 6 months he was up and running. The pub is fitted out in the classic “micropub renaissance” style with benches and tables built by John himself. I love this setup, where sitting and standing customers are at the same height as each other, which encourages conversation. Cask beers are served from an air-conditioned beer room behind a glass partition. The Hop Beer Shop also sells a wide selection of interesting and quirky bottled beers for on and off sales. I opted for a Black Wolf Florida Black, followed by Round Tower Hurrell bitter – both were excellent. I can’t remember what my friends had. I’ve yet to be served a bad pint at a micropub – long may this continue!
For what is almost a one-man operation (John is helped out by his partner at weekends), the Hop Beer Shop has opted for some long opening hours (when we went it was 12pm – 9pm Mon-Sat). This is largely due to quite a heavy focus on off-sales.
John informed us that we had arrived on the weekend of the Chelmsford Winter Beer Festival. We were tempted to drop in, but we had another micropub to visit…
There are only 2 micropubs in Essex which meant I could do the whole county from home in a day. As an added bonus I was joined by 5 of my cycling buddies. It was going to be 6, but my mate Peter was not having a lot of luck. His email said it all:
“Been off work all week with Man Flu .. Felt better this morning so got my bike out the shed only to find my back tyre a little flat so found the track pump .. Snapped the brass gold nut off the end of the valve .. Found the new inner tube .. Then noticed the rim damage .. Not just one but 2 of them !! Probably had been riding like it for some time but now I knew didn’t fancy riding on it .. Only rideable pushbike is my mountain bike at the moment and I would be even slower than I normally am on that !!
I then thought I could meet you at Theydon Bois on my motorcycle, dug my motorcycle clothing out the cupboard, went outside to get the bike ready only to find that wouldn’t start (flat battery) and too big to push start !!”
So we set off, without Peter, at around 9.30, out through Epping Forest. After a stop in Theydon Bois for coffee and cake, we arrived into Chelmsford around 1pm after the 30 mile ride from Enfield and visited the first micropub on today’s list, The Hop Beer Shop and Micropub which can be found on a shopping street in the centre of Chelmsford. Landloard John informed us that we had arrived on the weekend of the Chelmsford Winter Beer Festival. We were tempted to add the beer festival to our list, but we had another micropub to visit… a 10 mile ride down the road to the Billericay Brewing Co. The brewery has been in operation for a couple of years, with a small shop attached, but late last year they opened a micropub in the adjoining unit, selling their own beers alongside those from other local breweries. After a drink or two at the Biilericay Brewing Co it was time for us to roll down the hill to the station and catch a train back to Liverpool Street. Thanks to Jane, Sarah, Dave, Kieron and Bill for your company today. And Peter, I know you were there in spirit, if not beer!
5 Micropubs visited. 95 to go!
Miles Ridden Today: 45
Total Miles Ridden so far: 161