Well, here we are again on the threshold of a new season, and hopefully the summer weather will return for our opening game by the seaside at Southend Manor. The nearest station is Southend East, but Beer Hunters may prefer to get off at Central and stroll to the ground taking the sea air and making a refreshment stop or three along the way.
Before we do so, however, a big welcome to our new manager Terry Fogarty, who is also Mine Host at the Coppermill Tavern in Coppermill Lane (where the W12 bus terminates).This is a lovely, cosy, welcoming “proper pub” with several real ales always on tap (Fullers London Pride and Sharp’s Doom Bar, plus guests), and is decorated with old local photos and memorabilia – including a selection of gnomes. Well worth a visit if you don’t know it already.
And so to Southend, and on coming out of Central there are two pub options just a minute or two from the station. The Last Post in Weston Road is a spacious Wetherspoons located in the former Post Office (hence the name), and offers their usual wide range of good beers and bar meals at very reasonable prices. Nearby Clifftown Road offers two pubs -The Railway is a three-storey Victoria pub given a refit by Charringtons between the wars and retaining many original features, including the bar, tiling and stained glass. Five or six real ales are served, plus a real cider, and all food is vegetarian Nearby is Saks, an unusual example of a sports bar which offers real ale – Shepherd Neame Spitfire plus a guest. Heading towards the seafront, divert into Alexandra Street and you’ll find the Alex, which according to CAMRA’s excellent Whatpub website is one of the friendliest pubs in town, offering Robinsons Trooper, Sharp’s Doom Bar plus a guest – also a range of “craft keg” and bottled beers, good food and a large garden.
Alternatively, if you’re arriving at Southend Victoria, you may like to stop off first at the East Coast Social in the Broadway (Deuchars IPA and Wells Bombardier). Nearby in Southchurch Road there’s the Slug & Lettuce (a name to make all gardeners wince), offering Doom Bar and a guest, and the Sutton Arms (Wells Bombardier plus a guest). Meanwhile, the Varsity in Chichester Road is a modern bar with a good food menu and a choice of Doom Bar, Bombardier and a guest.
Down to the seafront now, and near the pier you’ll find the Borough Hotel, a “welcoming , spacious and comfortable pub” where the regular beer is Courage Best alongside up to five guest ales. From here, head towards the ground along Marine Parade and you come to the Cornucopia, reputedly the smallest pub in Essex which serves one beer from the Farmer’s Ales brewery, based behind the Blue Boar in Maldon – the Beer Hunter’s favourite Essex town. Nearby and at the opposite extreme is Chinnery’s, the biggest music venue in town with an outside seating area and Trooper and Doom Bar on tap. Further along, the latter is also to be found at the Papillon and the Castle, while the Falcon offers Greene King Abbot and Speckled Hen, and the Brewer’s Fayre is a new pub/restaurant with Doom Bar and London Pride.
However, the unexpected delight along the eastern seafront – and a mere throw-in from the ground – is the TEAC Bar, a members’ club which offers a warm welcome to visitors and two or three real ales at very reasonable prices in a cosy and friendly atmosphere. Its initials stand for Thames Estuary Automobile Club, though these days it has little or no connection with motoring enthusiasms. Well worth a visit – and there are good views of the estuary from the front windows.
DON’T FORGET – CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival, 11-15 August, Kensington Olympia. Hundreds of beers from around Britain and the world, food, stalls, music….full details at www.gbbf.org . Don’t miss it!!