Monday, 29 May 2023

The Peasants' Revolt - "We just wanted somewhere where the people of Brentwood could have good beer"


- "We just wanted somewhere where the people of Brentwood could have good beer"

If you've been following my blog, or maybe just dipped in from time to time, then you may have been wondering what I've been up to for the past few years. 

It would be too simplistic to say that I lost my taste for writing or that I felt quite disillusioned with the beer scene in this country, it's more complicated than that, and there was Lockdown where none of us knew what was going to happen next and even if we would come out of the other side. My personal experiences through that dark period I will put down at some point, but this is not the place for that. However, if I could put my finger on the one thing that has made me pick up my laptop again after all this time, then it would have to be, without any shadow of doubt, the opening of the Peasants' Revolt micropub in my home town of Brentwood on the 29th January last year.

Of course, these things don't just happen overnight, and the journey that culminated in the opening of the Peasants' Revolt is a long and winding one.

Mason Nathaniel,, grew up in both Poplar and Bow in East London where his drink of choice was a lager top. On a trip to Newcastle with his mates he met Harriet, who would later become his wife. They both worked in recruitment, however Harriet's father just so happened to be Mark Hall, owner of The Split Chimp Micropub in Newcastle and The Split Chimp Ale House in Whitley Bay. It was around this time that Mason had his own beer revelation, and it was Brew Dog's 5am Saint that provided it, although he confesses that Stone's Arrogant Bastard has a fond place in his heart too. "Newcastle changed my view of beer," he tells me, "the way that the people demand good beer, and good quality beer, really opened my eyes."

After living, and learning about beer, in Newcastle for seven years, and marrying Harriet, the couple first moved to Finsbury Park for a year. Harriet however, wanted to move somewhere with "a decent high street", and chose Brentwood to be their home, their son, Fletcher, being born in 2020, and it's his face you'll see on the beer mats should you visit. Mason admits that Harriet was, and is the driving force, "the power behind the scenes", it was her that encouraged him to open the micropub, provided the backing, and still holds down a full-time job in recruitment so that this dream could become a reality. 

In order to get some experience, Mason talked his way into a job behind the bar at the Brave Nelson for three months, a local pub that used to be the sole outlet for Nethergate beer in the area, before opening the Peasants' Revolt in what once was a Bridal Gown shop, just up from Brentwood station.

Mason on the taps

That's how it started, so how's it going?

Personally, I'd been crying out for something like this locally for a long long time, and from the moment I walked up to the bar on opening night I knew I'd found it. 

A pint of cask Thornbridge Jaipur was my first drink there, and it was in such good condition that I immediately ordered another. Mason says that he still remembers me walking up to order my drink, focused on what I wanted, oblivious to everyone else there. That still happens, and quite often I'll walk in and order a drink before turning around and realising that I'd gone straight past some of the many friends I've made there in a little over a year.

The Peasants' Revolt is much more than just a micropub in that respect, and without exception, anyone who walks in is warmly greeted, whether it's their first time visitor or a well established regular. A handshake and an introduction from the man himself are commonplace. Customer service, and making the customer feel relaxed is very much where it's at here, and Mason will talk through the range of beer (and ciders - three or more on gravity dispense, wines and spirits) on offer, highlighting particular flavour characteristics and offering tasters if need be.

The six craft keg taps are the highlight here, and consequently have the highest turnover. 

Tap one is always a lager, and for quite some time it was LoveLeigh Lager from Essex's Leigh on Sea  Brewery, however now you might well find one from Utopian or Exale. Tap two in the most popular, usually a lower abv. Pale or IPA, with taps three and four often, but not always stronger versions or variants. Tap five a stout and tap six a sour normally complete this line up, although this isn't a hard and fast rule, and it's not unusual to see tap three or four have another sour, a porter, or even a Belgian beer, Delirium Red appearing on more than one occasion.

There's cask beer as well, usually two although occasionally three, with a Pale or lighter beer as well as a Bitter available. Recently this tap has included Rebel Rouser, a Red Ale based on Tiny Rebel's Cwtch that Mason brewed in collaboration with Billericay Brewing. A huge beer fridge adds more choice, with cans from Brew York, Stone, Hammerton and Yonder proving popular alongside bottles from The Kernel. A variety of styles are included, as well as some Belgian bottled beers and low alcohol offerings. Crisps (including Scampi Fries obviously) and nuts from Nobby's and KP are the classic pub staples, although if you're very lucky indeed, you could be there on an occasion when Uncle John's home-made samosa's are brought round.

Since it's opening, the Peasants' has built a loyal local following, a community of friends of all ages, who just like good beer and socialising, working or just chatting in an environment which has music as a feature rather than an afterthought. 

Look to your left when you walk through the door and you'll see a the lightning bolt from David Bowie's Aladdin Sane album boldly painted on the wall. Posters from other musical influences can be found as well, especially Two Tone, and the toilet artwork pays homage to the Sex Pistols, The Clash and Madness. Very much part of the atmosphere, the music is louder than you'd find in most micropubs, but it's never intrusive, and the volume seems to be pitched in that sweet spot where you can enjoy a pleasant conversation or sing along should you so wish. DJ nights occur about a month, an erstwhile barman Warren Borg could often be found playing his guitar and singing on a Thursday night, inviting customers to join him behind the microphone. myself included on one occasion, although other work commitments have made this a rarity of late.

Constantly evolving, Mason hasn't been afraid to try something new in order to see what works and what doesn't. The biggest change is yet to come as, having acquired the premises next door, there are plans to expand and improve the pub still further later in the year.

I know it sounds like a cliche, and obviously I'm more than a little biased, but the Peasants' Revolt is simply a great place to be. Always friendly and welcoming, it truly is a home from home, a warm hug of a pub when the world outside can be a little overwhelming. Somewhere to spend the afternoon or evening, a place to call in for a quick one on your way home from work or on your way to the station for a night out. 

On a personal note, the Peasants' has been a place of friendship and laughter, banter and games, conversation and happiness, all with the added pleasure of great beer with great people. I hope to see you there sometime soon.

The Peasant's Revolt Micropub, Kings Road, Brentwood, CM14 4DR is two minutes walk from Brentwood railway station. Catch the Elizabeth line from Liverpool Street, or alternatively catch a faster train to Shenfield, and it's the first stop on the Elizabeth line London-bound.
Opening times:
Tuesday to Thursday 2pm to 10.30pm. Friday and Saturday 2pn until 11pm, Sunday 2pm to 8pm, closed on Mondays.

1 comment:

  1. Well that certainly does sound like a big step forward for Brentwood, just as that Crafty Casks is for Rayleigh.

    NB Good to have you back.