A Cunning Plan hatched around getting to the two pubs in Halstead that are on the Colchester Real Ale Trail 2015. Why not stop there en route to watching folk duo Belshazzar’s Feast at The Corn Hall, Diss yesterday evening?
A plus side was a nice drive through rural roads rather than the A12, A14, A140, and the drive out on the A1124 through Chapel, Wakes Colne and Earls Colne, was a nice one. Arriving at 5:00pm on Saturday the town was quiet (plus side : easy parking).
First pub to visit was The White Hart Inn, which dates back to the 14th century or thereabouts. Low timber beamed ceilings, toilets that you had to pop out the back of the pub to get to, all very quaint. The helpful barman saw me with the Ale Trail card and was good enough to point out that the Dog Inn was nearby. Beerwise a little disappointing : Woodforde’s Wherry and Nelson’s Revenge, and Adnams Southwold Bitter, so nothing out of the ordinary, and no dark beers. I opted for the Nelson’s Revenge, which was nice enough.
We had a short walk around Halstead, which is well-served for it’s size with a number of pubs, although mostly Greene King. There were some nice almshouses down by the river alongside the Courtauld’s Silk Mill, and there was a treat back up the hill and along the Halstead Road to the Dog Inn, where what I was reliably informed were Courtauld-built houses with pargetting which were named after Jane Austen novels (Pride, Prejudice, Sense, Sensibility etc).
The Dog Inn was similarly characterful, although the 4x CCTV screen glowing blue behind the bar were a bit jarring. The pub evidently does darts, petanque, and live music. Beerwise there were 4x beers on, which were a bit difficult to see what with four regulars sitting at the small bar. For the record they were Growler Bitter, Cotleigh’s Tawny Owl, Adnams Southwold Bitter, and Maldon Brewing Company’s Kitty. The Tawny Owl was the beer of choice, as as with the previous pint, nice enough but nothing to get the tastebuds a-quiver.
So, 6 of the 8 pubs from Group B of the Colchester Real Ale Trail sorted!
So then on to Diss Corn Hall. A nice drive via Sudbury and Bury St. Edmunds, to a town we’ve never been to before, and we were impressed with what little we saw of the narrow lanes around the town centre. The Corn Hall’s an impressive building, and they serve a mean curry, and had local Grain Brewery beers on cask, which we were unable to sample on account of those pesky drink drive laws. So we had to content ourselves with a bottle of their stout to bring home with us. And Belshazzar’s Feast (whom we had seen at Colchester Arts Centre last year) were on good form, wise cracking and showing some virtuoso playing.