Sawbridgeworth – a town the Beer Hunter has meant to visit for some considerable time, with two pubs listed in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide. The Gate in London Road is also home to Sawbridgeworth Brewery, and co-owner Tom Barnett is a former professional footballer who played for Crystal Palace among others – hence the name of one of their beers, Selhurst Park Flyer (3.8%). Other Sawbridgeworth beers range from Manor Mild (3.4%) to the yummy-sounding Malt Shovel Porter at a walloping 6%. As might be expected, the pub itself is big on sport, with satellite screens in all bars, and several teams are based there. Pub website: www.thegatepub.com.
In contrast, the Old Bell in (surprise, surprise!) Bell Street is a 16th century Grade II listed timber-framed coaching inn with exposed beams in the cosy main bar. There’s also a lounge and dining area, and a courtyard if the good weather is still holding. The pub is also home to a ukulele club, though as they convene on alternate Monday nights we may not be serenaded on this occasion. Beers here include Adnams Broadside, Woodforde’s Wherry and guest ales. Website: www.theoldbellpublichouse.co.uk .