Beer talk bores me, but I have been amused by the reaction to Richard Coldwell’s excellent series of posts on his Craft Beer box.
Mrs RM clearly has impeccable judgement anyway, but her perception of “craft” as stuff not on hand-pump, often chilled and normally strong is pretty much mine. One of these days she’ll remember her purse, have to buy her own beer, and discover it’s also very expensive.
We took the next train to Lincoln, chuntering past the dramatic scenery of Norton Disney and North Scarle, the last GBG pub-free wilderness of England. On the way I searched the net for “craft in Lincoln” and found the excellent Lincoln Pub Geek blog.
Suzy Aldridge defines craft beer as ““keg stuff” with more flavour than a beer mat and any bottles more exciting than Spoons“, which will do for me.
Her post on craft bars in Lincoln wetted our appetite to explore beyond the Beer Guide, anyway, and brave that hill.
If I’m honest we thought we were going to Lincoln to buy bratwurst and mulled wine at the Christmas market. That’s what I said to Mrs RM; actually I just wanted to see how long it took her to get up Steep Hill with its 1 in 7 gradient(for scientific purposes of course).
Bizarrely, the market had finished on 4 December, which is 3 weeks before Christmas starts and end by my definition. So it was shopping in Lush, and pubs.
The usual lone new Lincoln Beer Guide pub is a corker. The Cardinal’s Hat appealed to Mrs RM even before we realised it was our destination.
It looks as good inside as out, with a touch of Mick Thurlby’s pubs about it, but with a very deliberate emphasis on craft, however you define it. It was quite hard working out what was cask and what was keg, but the Mosaic (NBSS 3) and a potent 7%-er from Ossett that Mrs RM gave me not a drop of were both cellar cool.
We were impressed with this one, and judging by a fairly busy pub at 4pm so is Lincoln. The table next to us had two old gents talking CAMRA, that hill, and an excellent Sheela na gig they’d seen in Lichfield Cathedral. Simon would have loved it.
Fortified (literally) by the Ossett, Mrs RM made it up Steep Hill only ten minutes behind me, which would have been enough time for a pint of Sam Smiths OBB in Widow Cullen’s, but that looked a bit quiet. Compared to a thriving High Street, the artsy shops around the tourist sites weren’t busy post-Christmas market.
With some clever lighting, the Cathedral looked quite wonderful.
There’s some great traditional pubs round here, including the Morning Star which still serves Bass. But I wanted to see the Pub Geek’s craft choice, the Strait & Narrow.
This is another place that would look at home in, say, the Lace Market or Spiningfields or even Falmouth. If that sounds condescending to Lincoln, it’s only because the pub scene has been so (pleasingly) traditional over the last couple of decades, at least in GBG terms.
There’s an emphasis on strong Belgian stuff, and a decent cask range that couldn’t really compete. The Delirium Noel and a Tiny Rebel seemed reasonably priced by that stage, and deliriously bright red lighting made it all look very lovely. And that was before I saw the Bass sign…