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143 Moulsham Street, Chelmsford. CM2 0JT.

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The Edge Magazine October 2012 - The Beverage Report by David Sherman.

If you feel like venturing a little outside the town centre (or should that now be city centre?) you could do worse than to pop into the new-look Cricketers in Moulsham Street.

Situated at the far end of the town/city’s shopping area (opposite the church), The Cricketers has had a fair reputation for some years amongst discerning beer drinkers. A mid-Victorian two-bar locals’ pub, it is owned by local pubco (and former brewers) Gray &: Sons, and has made a point of exploiting their guest ale list, which has become increasingly diverse in recent times.

First-time visitors, or indeed those who’ve not been in for a while, will also no doubt recognise a familiar face or two behind the bar. Colin Stroud, having guided The Woolpack in Mildmay Road to a pair of local ‘Pub of the Year’ awards, has finally decided to head out on his own and take the ‘Cricks’ on to greater things - and you’ll find two or three of his staff have followed him.

The interior of the pub is much more ‘nuevo’ than was previously the case, with pastel shades and bare boards replacing the cosy, if a little old-fashioned, decor of recent times. Much of the seating is also new, and in fact some of it was still awaiting delivery when I first popped my head in! Fear not though, for the pool table remains, as does the early opening - 10 o’clock for breakfast, with alcohol served from 11 (when did this start becoming a rarity?).

Beer choice is intended to be reasonably flexible, with an indication that gravity-fed Abbot Ale will be the default strong beer and Bishop Nick’s Ridley’s Rite occupying the weaker end of the scale. Three other beers, including a mild, porter or stout, will also be available. The quality, as one might expect from a man of Colin’s pedigree, was excellent on my recent visit. Here’s a snapshot of what was up for grabs: Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde - Champion Beer of Britain and demonstrating why. Dry mild with a roasty taste balanced by some sweetness in the body.

Sharp’s Atlantic IPA - midway between a session bitter and a golden ale; sharper (pun unintended) than the former, but more interesting than the latter. A session-strength beer Mordue Workie Ticket - Full-bodied north-eastern premium bitter with a dry finish Greene King Abbot Ale - Sweet and heavy, with a balancing hoppy character. On absolutely stunning form.

Colin also sells bottles of Greene King Suffolk Strong, one of only two beers of its kind produced in Britain (the other is also from Greene King). The result of blending pale strong beer with soured old beer recreates what we can assume to be the original taste of eighteenth-century porter. The underlying sweet malty character is offset not by hoppy bitterness, but by a powerful tartness which cannot be described by comparison to anything else - you simply have to taste it for yourself (no bad thing, surely?)

By the time you read this, the new-look food menu should be available for those of you who haven’t evolved far enough to survive on beer alone. A general menu is available 12:00 - 2:30pm and 5:30pm - 8:00pm. It’s just good pub food, with absolutely no intention to turn the place into a restaurant! Sunday roasts will also be available shortly, whilst interesting bar snacks are served outside of normal food hours. There’s also a new range of wines, some of which I am told are rather good (I guess that means they all are, but the people I spoke to hadn’t got through the card yet!)

To find The Cricketers from town, head out of the centre via the Parkway underpass (by Rayleigh Hi-Fi) and simply keep going - it’s roughly ten minutes’ walk. Or if approaching from New London Road, turn into Queen Street and follow it to the end.

Drinking hours run from 11am - 11pm
Mon-Thurs, 11am - 12pm
Fri-Sat and 12-11pm on Sunday.

Families and dog-walkers most welcome.

Support your local pub!

Or walk past it and try this one instead.

The Edge Magazine October 2012 - Trading Places

The Edge Magazine - Trading Places October 2012

So as things stand, Colin Stroud’s left The Woolpack to become the new tenant at The Cricketers in Moulsham Street, Dan Curtis (above right) is replacing Colin as the new manager of The Woolpack and John ‘The Knowledge’ (at least where beer’s concerned) Green (above left) has been ‘poached’ from The Plough in Duke Street to replace Dan as the new manager of The Ale House.

Blimey, it’s worse than the football transfer window!

If there’s any of you that still haven’t visited The Ale House, yet you enjoyed the recent Oktoberfest at Barista (the West End of Chelmsford is definitely The Edge’s favourite haunt), then DO NOT MISS this Oktoberfest.

What’s more, The Ale House is not just for blokes either, ladies. "I can’t believe some of the fine looking creatures that have been frequenting this place of late," Dan confided to The Edge. "I’m almost sorry to be going now!" It could be the meat and cheese platters that are attracting the womenfolk, not to mention the fine wines and gorgeous fruit beers that also seemingly appeal.

The Ale House is open ’til 11:00pm, Sunday - Thursday and ’til midnight on Friday and Saturday evenings.

STOP PRESS: Live acoustic sessions will be featuring on Sundays soon - so watch this space for further details. P.S. The Edge’s favoured draught tipple is Sanwald wheat beer.