Only Fine Beer is a one man operation in Gavin these days. He often goes out on elusive beer trips. Chatting about both our Westvleteren experiences during Chelmsford Summer Beer Festival 2009 was fantastic.. You have to be patient as he is really a lone operator. He has moved the shop to Felsted and it is now just a small room near a brewery and stocks only small amounts of beer compared to how it used to be.
I can’t thank Gavin enough for turning me onto some real gems in the craft world. Way back before I used this site I used to visit this store every fortnight in Chelmsford. I would buy regional ales and Belgian beers previously unavailable in Essex. Way back in 2006 this place was gold. I knew nothing like it.
Gavin sold the store which is a shame and now is relocated. I only see him at the Chelmsford summer festival beer stall now. Well worth going to. I have not placed an online order but feel I should soon. My last order I picked up directly from the store. Gavin was away at the time. This order included a Liefmans beer which is retired. Gavin’s passion is endless for beer. He is a remarkable man.
I expected good things from this place but was left very disappointed. I placed an order way back in December 2008, early in January the proprietor phoned me to tell me some of my purchases weren’t in stock and he was ’off to Belgium very soon’ to get them. I waited for over a month hearing nothing then decided maybe it’d be best to change my order slightly hoping that this might speed things up...oh no, that didn’t help at all. Eventually I got fed up with waiting and cancelled my order last month. This is an amateurish operation, he may have a great selection but the service is appalling. You’re better off using beersofeurope, beermerchants or beeritz who provide a much better service and excel in reliability. Much the same thing happened to the owner of the highly respected site- beermad.org.uk. Here’s the link: www.beermad.org.uk/faq.shtml#ofb.
Great selection, lots of nice kit from Belgium. Searching the website can be a pain since some of the beers have been spelled incorrectly, they also often dont have the beers on the site in stock. Decent p+p prices and the package arrived when they said it would. Overall its a great shop but its worth phoning before you order to check that they have your beers in stock.
Very good selection of british ales, helpful and friendly staff, always worth a visit. Because it is situated in the suburbs of Chelmsford, there’s always a chance to find a place for Your car........
Should be combined with or rounded by a visit to the excellent "Queens Head" in Chelmsford !
Am I the first RB member to visit since the move to Essex? I see nobody has rated it in over 20 months. I don’t know what the old place was like, because I never visited, but this new place wasn’t quite what I expected. It’s dark, dingy and a little dirty but there is a large selection of bottles from around the world. I found the Belgian selection somewhat pedestrian actually, but it has the best German & United States selection I’ve seen in the UK, plus lots of British beers and several other special beers from around the world. Freshness is possibly an issue, as some of the beers have clearly been on the shelves for 5 years or more (perhaps that’s why its kept so dark in there), service was very friendly but not really that knowledgeable (not Gavin serving). Far too unorganised to properly work out what they have and get the beers you are really interested in. Also, don’t believe the website for an accurate representation of their stock, they only had 3 of the 9 beers I was after. All in all OK, but far too far out of the way to bother visiting again.
Jeppe (84) Brooklyn, Alabama | February 14, 2004| Updated October 27, 2005
Man, do I love this shop!! Definately my favorite beer shop of all time!! The selection is huge, I guess there is more than 1000 different beers to select from!! Some are in the shop but if you ask Gavin (the owner) politely ;-) he might show you the room behind the shop and even the loft were he has a great selection of vintage and very rare beers!! Gavin is a very nice person and very helpful in all means!! Bus No. 15 goes directky to the door!!
Way hard to get to, but worth the haul. As I understand it, this shop is moving, so many of you will never have to make the trek into no man's land to get to Bottles. Massive selection of UK micros, and I thought Bottles in some ways was better than Pitfield Beer Shop because Bottles seemed to have more, well, bottles. Bottles' downside is that the place is chaotic, unorganized, many beers are dusty and old and the selection is rather downscale. Also, Bottles location sucks. As I recall, there was a Commercial St and a Commercial Rd, and you must walk down the latter from Aldgate East's tube stop to arrive at Bottles.
One of favourite places to visit in London. Small, cluttered shop, with beer literally everywhere. Lots of beers to chose from. Great selection of beers from mainland Europe, the British Ilses, as well as a few from the US and from many different countries around the world. To make things better, Gavin and his staff are extremely nice, and always offering help and advice. A great store, if a little out of the way, well worth the walk from Aldgate East tube stop.
SilkTork (93) Southampton, United Kingdom, England | January 21, 2004
Gavin is wonderful, and if he's not there when you visit you've missed a chance of some great conversation and the chance of getting a good discount. The shop is a total mess with very little place to stand or gather your bottles because there are cases everywhere and the counter is very small and always crowded with more bottles. And what you see is not everything - there is a large and equally cluttered store-room behind the counter with even more beer, a lot of which is not on display. Gavin is aware that his store is in a daft location (the bulk of his customers are locals buying cigarettes and cheap lager), and he has plans to move to East Anglia. He always seems on the brink of financial disaster, but struggles through somehow. Bottles is a legend and is a must visit shop for any beer geek coming to London. Support the real beer enthusiast and buy your beer from Gavin!
bierkoning (348) La Tropica/Doarp, Netherlands | January 21, 2004| Updated January 22, 2004
Huge selection of Belgian and British rarities in an shop totally filled with beers. Little room to move, but lots of treasures to be discovered. During my visit, Gavin wasn't there. A young girl was very friendly and tried to be helpful, but couldn't tell me very much. In an ugly and out of the way street in London, stacked with little shops run by foreigners.