County Stat Attack Week 14 - Essex

The Ceremonial County of Essex, which is the area we cover on Ratebeer, avoiding the Unitary Authority nonsense, is a sort of border county, it can be included in Home Counties, South East England and also Eastern England, where it tends to be lumped. Bordering Greater London to the West, the River Thames to the South and Suffolk to the North East with Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire thrown in too. In ancient times the area was populated by the Trinovantes tribe, one of the few Iron Age British tribes to produce their own coinage.
The Roman Invasion saw them take the Trinovantes capital settlement at what is now Colchester, many of the British tribes surrendered to the Emperor Claudius there. The settlement became Colonia, which came under attack from the remaining Trinovantes and the more northern Iceni tribes in the Boudiccan Revolt, the city was taken and sacked by the attackers. The name Essex comes from the later Anglo Saxon period, simply East Saxon, ruled by pagan kings. Later the area came under the stewardship of Wessex. The Normans established several castles across the county including Colchester, maintaining its importance, the Forest of Essex became a Royal Forest with common grazing land. The port of Tilbury became a major defensive town during the time of the Spanish Armada, this is where Queen Elizabeth I gave the famous “I may have the body of a weak, feeble Woman” speech. Essex was principally Parliamentarian during the Civil War, but Colchester was held by Royalist troops, the siege of Colchester ensued and Royalists eventually surrendered.

Probably the River Thames estuary is the dominant feature of the county, with the estuaries of rivers and inlets Essex has the most coastline of any English county. There are also 3 major peninsulas, Tendring, Dengie and Rochford. The county is largely low lying apart from common land near the Hertfordshire border.

The only city is Colchester while there are major towns in Basildon and Harlow close to London plus Chelmsford, Southend on Sea and Thurrock. Basildon is home to Ford Motor Companies UK headquarters while Harlow and Chelmsford host Pharmaceutical and Electronics companies.

On Ratebeer we have 39 Active Breweries and 27 sadly now closed for a total of 66. Quite a high proportion of 17 are Client / Commissioner Brewers.

The oldest Brewery we have still producing is Crouch Vale Brewery of South Woodham Ferrers, Established in 1980.

In our closed section we have Ridley’s Brewery of Chelmsford Established in 1842. Initially the company started as a watermill at Hartford End developing into a flour milling business in Chelmsford and eventually maltings and a brewery. The company built slowly, in the 1970’s they had just over 60 tied houses, all in Essex. In 2002 they bought out and closed Tolly Cobbold from Suffolk, but this placed strain on the running of the company and in 2005 they themselves were bought out by Greene King closing all their Essex operations. All that really remains is Ridley’s Old Bob which is produced at Bury St. Edmunds. However; Nelion Ridley, son of the last Ridley Chairman, started up the Bishop Nick Micro-Brewery, currently operating in Braintree having commenced brewing in 2011.

The Brewery with the largest range in Essex is Mighty Oak Brewing of Maldon (Est 1996) with 280 beers on Ratebeer.

The 2020 awards give us Redchurch Brewery of Harlow (Est 2011) as the Best Brewer, having gone into administration in 2019 and moved from London to Essex the same year. Redchurch Old Ford Export Stout was awarded Best Beer for 2020.

The overall Top 10 Beers for Essex are –

  1. Crouch Vale Brewers Gold Extra
  2. Redchurch Old Ford Export Stout
  3. Redchurch / De Molen Black & Brett
  4. Redchurch Barrel Aged Old Ford R
  5. Redchurch Double IPA Chinook R
  6. Redchurch Brett Porter R
  7. Redchurch Baltic Street Porter R
  8. Redchurch Broadway Black Pale R
  9. Redchurch Great Eastern IPA
  10. Redchurch Double IPA Mosaic R

Our Top 5 Bars / Pubs in Essex are –

  1. Ale House, Chelmsford – 87
  2. Victoria Inn, Colchester – 84
  3. Two Brews, Colchester – 81
  4. Hop Beer Shop, Colchester – 77
  5. New Inn, Colchester – 76
  6. Moulsham Tap, Chelmsford - 76
  7. Queen Street Brewhouse, Colchester – 76

The Top 5 Raters of Beers from Essex are –

  1. @madmitch76
  2. @fonefan
  3. @Grumbo
  4. @Leighton
  5. @harrisoni

You will require a steady 47 ratings of Essex beers to enter the Top 50.

The top rater who resides in Essex is
@madmitch76 who happily is still rating on here and has a very healthy lead for his home county.


Good morning everybody; I got up to watch the cricket, been patiently waiting for Glen to post this for a while now! Those that have been following the cricket will know why.

I was born in Essex, but have never lived there.

My stats will appear once I take a look at them.



Thanks Glen. I am on 272 Essex ratings, 102 of which are for Redchurch. I used to be a huge fan of Redchurch, back when they were located in Hackney. I visited the brewery taproom and chased their beers for years. So I was pretty bummed out when they had their issues and moved out to Essex. But the move definitely boosted my Essex stats. Without Redchurch, I would drop from 4th to 8th in the ranking!


The only reason I go to Essex is that Stanstead Airport just happens to be in the county and I’ve found some cheap flights from there in the past. My only place review is the Wetherspoon’s bar after security inside the terminal.

My beer ratings number a pretty poor 30, one of which is a cider. The last time I had a beer from the county was at the 2019 GBBF, it’s when I had the cider too.

Top beers:
Mighty Oak Mahogany (only beer scored over 4).
Harwich Town Bay Bitter.
Pitfield Shoreditch Stout.

13 Breweries used, 1 Cidery.

5 Beers from Pitfield (now Dominion)
My 1 Cider being Hill Holmes Major’s Blunderbuss.

My mate Podge (RIP) hailed from Chelmsford, some of you may have known him too, or even been on one of his beer tours, lovely bloke. That’s just about the only good thing I can think of about the county. Never been to a football match and only stayed once that I can remember, that was during a ‘blowing up session’ on the sand at MOD Shoeburyness, during my EOD Course back in the 1980’s.

No plans to revisit the county, unless Stanstead airport is used again.



Putting my piece together but Essex is quite a blind spot for me, I’m a bit worried that we all might lose a bit of interest now that 3 difficult counties have come together :grimacing:

1 Like

That Redchurch re-location also boosted Essex to be my 10th most rated English county. Without Redchurch, Essex would be 16th.


Glen, I am sure a ‘topic’ will emerge that helps to increase the replies and interest; even if it’s Essex Blonde jokes or people stating their love of TOWIE!


Just 27 beers for me, from 4 brewers. Redchurch account for 24 of those. I remember visiting Redchurch on a beery day out round London and chugging fresh Northern IPA on site, was a particular highlight.

Like Jeremy, I’ve only visited Essex when flying from Stanstead (we make a day of the trip down by stopping in Cambridge for a few beers and some dinner, before the quick blast to the airport hotel and a flight the morning after).

Here’s hoping that can happen again sometime soon. I might even rate the Wetherspoons at the airport next time :grimacing:


I had to Google TOWIE. Never seen it so cannot state any love for it.

Well the difficult, for me anyway, counties are continuing with Essex. I don’t have that many memories of this county. Way before Ratebeer, back in the 70’s we used to stop off at Sarfend to and from Portman Road, away to Ipswich, very few memories of what that was like, I don’t believe we ever went to Colchester’s ground. Fast forward to July 2018 we parked up the Motor Home on a site on the edge of Colchester for 4 nights and did pubs in Colchester and Chelmsford. We liked both places and would certainly return one day although there is no particularly burning desire to do that just yet. I also haven’t done any Distance walking in the county, I suppose I would most like to go to the county cricket ground in Chelmsford, never having been there.

Despite the visit I am way off the pace in Essex with 153 ratings putting me in 13th place for the county. I haven’t come across any Essex beers so far this year and only one in 2020. Essex come 37th in my English Counties list but does average a healthy 3.3 per beer. I have rated beers from 28 different Breweries for the county, scraping into the top 10 on that list 9 of which are now closed.

The Essex Breweries with most ratings for me –

  1. Crouch Vale Brewery – 31
  2. Brentwood Brewing Co. – 18
  3. Mighty Oak Brewing Co. – 15
  4. Colchester Brewery – 14
  5. Redchurch Brewery – 11

I have 10 beers from the county that I have rated 4 or over, the best are –

  1. Crouch Vale Brewers Gold Extra – 4.7 (For many years my favourite beer of all)
  2. Crouch Vale Brewers Gold – 4.5
  3. Crouch Vale Citra – 4.5
  4. Mighty Oak Leaf Litter – 4.2
  5. Crouch Vale Millenium Gold – 4.2

I would say that Crouch Vale were one of my favourite breweries through the early years of Ratebeer.

Obviously I have had the highest rated beer in the county and loved it. I have only had 3 beers from the county top 10.

My highest rated Breweries for Essex are –

  1. Crouch Vale Brewery – 3.716
  2. Leigh on Sea – 3.433
  3. Mighty Oak Brewing – 3.28

I was pretty busy on the 3 days in Essex and managed to review 14 places, making it my 28th highest county for place reviews and due to Ratebeer and its like we visited some pretty decent places, our favourites were –

  1. Ale House – Chelmsford, Chelmsford – 82
  2. Hop Beer Shop, Chelmsford – 78
  3. Victoria Inn, Colchester – 76
  4. Three Wise Monkeys, Colchester – 74
  5. Moulsham Tap, Chelmsford - 74

I never knew Podge but I did know of him from several friends who went on several of his beer tours, and they would definitely confirm what a lovely bloke he was. I wish now that I had tried one.

1 Like

Essex is one of those counties that I don’t really know that well. I’ve got 46 rates, which at time of writing puts me just in at number 50. The fact I am on the leaderboard at all is mainly a throwback from my time in Cambridge – we don’t really see Essex beers in Leicester – as well as Redchurch moving to Essex and bulking things up a bit. So I won’t really have too many Essex rates from the last 3 or 4 years.

My most rated Essex breweries are Redchurch (10), Colchester (8), Brentwood (6) and Crouch Vale (5). All in all I’ve had beers from 14 breweries (11 open, 3 closed).

The top beers are:

Redchurch Old Ford Export Stout: 4.5
Elephant School Peasants Revolt Red Ale: 3.7
Colchester Cat’s Whiskers Cream Stout: 3.7
Bishop Nick Dark Mild: 3.7
Redchurch Tartelette Verbena: 3.7

I’ve only got 3 place rates in Essex, and to be honest these are kind of a cheat: two just over the border from Cambridge and the now-defunct online shop Ales By Mail. I would recommend the Bell in Wendens Ambo, I went there a few times and while not strictly a beer pub (hence the low rate on here), it’s comfortably atmospheric in a home counties sort of way. I always meant to get stuck into somewhere like Colchester or Chelmsford or even Saffron Walden but never got around to it.


The consensus emerging is that notwithstanding the efforts of TOWIE, Essex is not sexy. I also associated it with Basildon Man, but none of this explains why I have only drunk 18 beers from the county and many of those seem to have come from either the Mild or the Stout & Porter trails in Nottingham. I think it was the Sir John Borlase Warren near me that used to swap its Lincoln Green for Colchester beers and that explains why it accounts for 10 of my slender total whereas Redchurch has just one. I have the latter in my top 4 but also note that it is the only one of the four where my rating is lower that the RB average.

The only Essex girl joke I vaguely remember features a damsel of the county who stepped out of her front door one morning and immediately slipped on a banana skin. The next day, she opened the door and the banana skin was still there. “Here we go again” she said before slipping on her arse. This may not be funny but it is probably the cleanest Essex girl joke anyone remembers.


Not me…I like looking at the ‘difficult’ counties and seeing what I need to work on

How do you make an Essex girl’s eyes sparkle?

Shine a torch in her ear!


One of my favourite brewery names in Essex: Wibblers


Wow Essex, not a real beer destination for me. It’s at 40th in my top rated counties 41 rates, I might do an online Redchurch order to boost the numbers.

Only one of the beers is rated 4 or over (4.2) and that is:

Leigh on Sea SS9

The only place I have rated is the JDW in Stanstead Airport.

I have never watched TOWIE


Essex. The nearest county to my home in Suffolk, around 30 minutes drive, or by train from Ipswich its 20 mins to Colchester and 40 mins to Chelmsford. So I’ve visited both plenty of times though obviously less so recently - just one fun day out in Chelmsford back in July.

Over the years, work has meant being based in Basildon for 2 years, Brentwood on-and-off for head office visits, and more recently Chelmsford where I was working from 2011-14. Basildon (aka Bas Vegas) was before my RateBeer days though there’d have scarcely been opportunity to find beers or places to rate in that wasteland of a place (as it was back then anyway). Though there were points of interest and “there are Essex girls and then there are Basildon girls” were wise words given to me on my induction day. And need to mention Depeche Mode before moving on from Basildon, something to be grateful to that town for.

Chelmsford beer scene was very good though. There were already plenty of pubs near the station, then they built the Ale House in the railway arches which I had to walk by to get from my office to the train station. Didn’t walk by it very often actually. Quick one before catching the train home became a habit and all too often turned into a session, sometimes genuinely caused by problems with the trains giving me no other choice but to hang around for a few hours and drink good beer. Back then it was run by an Aussie chap called Alex who knew what we liked, knew how to draw us in, and how to keep us there!

275 beer rates and 3rd place is a pleasing stat (with only 4 Redchurch amongst them - for some reason I struggle to relate Redchurch to being an Essex brewery). 54 Essex breweries and 1st place on that is an even nicer stat. Visits to Chelmsford, Colchester and Chappel beer festivals (all having both summer and winter festivals) have helped a lot with those stats. My most rated Essex breweries have been pretty traditional Real Ale brewers - Mighty Oak, Farmers, Red Fox, Wibblers, Colchester, Harwich Town, Crouch Vale and Brentwood all in double figures. Recent additions of some note to the Essex brewing scene are Watsons, Leigh on Sea, Radio City and JackRabbit. Radio City are potentially the one who could become Essex’s first prominent national craft brewer. They were my Essex new brewery of 2020, not that any brewer got that. Watsons would have got my Essex brewer of the year vote. But they’re small and don’t get about much.

Places I’ve done 39 in Essex. My top places include all those top ones first mentioned by @imdownthepub but also Billericay Brewing and Hoppily in Southend scored well for me.


Great post. Honestly never really got Depeche Mode, though. Catchy tunes and all, but just a bit too much leather for me :grimacing:


I really like Depeche Mode, saw them back in 1990 and again about 11-12 years ago. I agree though Martin Gore had a big thing about leather. Black Celebration is probably my favourite album of theirs, it’s quite dark and some of the lyrics now come across as a little dated but there are some great tracks on that album.

I’ll have a look at my stats tomorrow, we’ve been busy with a works Virtual Retreat but this finishes tomorrow so should get chance to look at soon, and to think that our last works retreat was in Venice :disappointed_relieved: bloody COVID.