Monday, 14 September 2015

Beer In Essex - Review: Farmers Yard, Maldon

Beer In Essex - Review
Farmers Yard, Maldon

The micropub as a recognised entity is barely ten years old, a consequence of the 2003 Licensing Act becoming law in 2005 and enabling small premises to obtain the right to sell alcohol, and whilst they were initially few and far between, the last five years has seen an explosion in their number up and down the country.

There are over 125 such premises now in existence, premises that were once shops, offices or off-licenses, all given a new lease of life in a straight-forward no-nonsense and often very often cramped environment with no food or entertainment, united by the philosophy of 'Keep It Small, Keep It Simple'.

The Farmers Yard is the third micropub to open in Essex, The Hop Beer Shop and the Billericay Brewery Micropub being the other two, and like the latter is run by a brewery, with this one belonging to The Maldon Brewing Company.

I am fortunate enough to be able to attend many events where brewers are present, and indeed count a number of them as friends, however for the majority of drinkers contact with the people that actually brewed the beer in there glass is a rare thing indeed. There are certain beer festivals where this is possible, although often only on certain days, and the occasions of brewer-drinker interaction are generally seldom. We are fortunate in Essex that you can often converse with the brewer on a fairly regular basis, whether it be Ian from the Essex Brewery Company at a farmers market, Roland and Ethan from Brentwood Brewery when they open on a Saturday, or Trevor from Billericay Brewing at his brewery or micropub, and now Nigel and his son Mike in Maldon, you can go and share a beer with the very person who enabled it to be in your hand in the first place.

Situated at the lower end of the High Street, the Farmers Yard has a relatively plain shop-front, its green-on-white signage would be easy to miss, although it was drawing quite a crowd when I ventured inside on Saturday afternoon. Admittedly it had only been open a week and still could be considered a bit of a novelty from the locals but there was a real buzz about the place, with plenty of conversation and laughter, and I had to weave my way between the tables and drinkers in order to get to Nigel and order a drink. I opted for a half of one of Maldon's newest beers Ella, brewed unsurprisingly with Ella hops, and tasting very good indeed.

There's no bar here, only an open doorway with a till tucked away, with the beer served by gravity dispense straight from the cask on stillage in the back room, something that is a common feature of many micropubs. Whilst he was gone I took the opportunity to have a proper look around at the layout and my fellow drinkers.

Three high wooden tables surrounded by stools take up much of the space, and these were all occupied by what would be fair to say was an older crowd, and I mean no disrespect by saying that many of them fitted the oft-pilloried CAMRA activist stereotype. I had noticed that there were a number of beers available, not all from the Maldon Brewing Co. but other Essex brewers too, as well as local cider and wine by the glass. Occupying the whole of the wall opposite the door is a wooden shelving unit full of bottles of the latest Maldon brewery beers, and I purchased some bottles to take home with me, including a few of the strong Golden Ale, Xylonite, which I have earmarked to feature in the upcoming Beer O'Clock Show 'Essex Showcase' podcast.

I wasn't able to stay for too long on this visit , I had a pressing engagement elsewhere, so after a brief chat with Nigel (whose surname is Farmer, hence the name of the pub) I was on my way. I'll be back again soon for a pint or two, with plenty of time to sit and chat when I'm need to pick up some more of their bottled beer, and I'm confident it will be just as busy then as it will more than likely be on another Saturday afternoon.

There will be a second micropub opening on nearby soon, as Mighty Oak, the other brewery in Maldon have had permission to convert the vacant Pink Rose cafe at the other end of the High Street, and I'm looking forward to being able to visit and drink in both. Fresh beer, straight from two breweries to your glass in the same town served by the people who make it was recently the exclusive domain of the newer breed of city breweries. To be able to do have a similar experience in one Essex town was once the stuff of dreams, but by the end of the year this will be very much reality, one we can all drink to.

The Farmers Yard can is at:
140 High Street, Maldon, Essex CM9 5BX
Opening times:
Monday to Friday 11.00am to 2.00pm and 5.00pm to 9.00pm
Saturday 11.00am to 9.00pm
Sunday 12.00pm to 9.00pm

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