Housed inside two railway arches a few yards from the city centre train station, The Ale House is one of the best craft beer venues in the area.

Considering its location, it’s surprisingly spacious with lots of outside seating areas on both sides of the arches. Inside, the wood-panelled bar typically offers 6 cask beers, 11 craft beers on tap, gins, ciders and wine. There’s a good rotation of beers on both cask and keg to keep the regular punter interested. In addition, there are a number of well stocked fridges offering a large selection of canned Craft Beers from the UK and Europe at sensible prices. Seating is now socially distanced, and you always get a warm welcome from friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Staff at The Ale House have really made an effort to ensure the safety of their customers. On arrival you’re greeted by a member of staff wearing a full-face visor and asked if you prefer seating inside or out. Personal contact details are taken (Trace and Track), and you’re requested to sanitise hands before being escorted to a table. Beer menus are provided, and you’re given plenty of time to choose your tipple. Table service is standard, and as you can pay at the table you never need to leave your seat. The premises have a one-way system with clear markings on the floor to ensure that everyone keeps their distance.

I have visited The Ale House several times since lockdown restrictions were lifted and each time has been a safe and satisfying experience. Essex is not blessed with too many Craft Beer venues, but The Ale House is certainly a shining beacon and well worth a visit.