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 –
- Crouch Vale Brewers Gold Extra
- Redchurch Old Ford Export Stout
- Redchurch / De Molen Black & Brett
- Redchurch Barrel Aged Old Ford R
- Redchurch Double IPA Chinook R
- Redchurch Brett Porter R
- Redchurch Baltic Street Porter R
- Redchurch Broadway Black Pale R
- Redchurch Great Eastern IPA
- Redchurch Double IPA Mosaic R
Our Top 5 Bars / Pubs in Essex are –
- Ale House, Chelmsford – 87
- Victoria Inn, Colchester – 84
- Two Brews, Colchester – 81
- Hop Beer Shop, Colchester – 77
- New Inn, Colchester – 76
- Moulsham Tap, Chelmsford - 76
- Queen Street Brewhouse, Colchester – 76
The Top 5 Raters of Beers from Essex are –
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.