Whether you’re popping to Lincoln to visit the Imp, the Magna Carta or the swans, or you simply live here and fancy somewhere new here’s my guide to the best places to get craft beer whilst you’re here.
A few things to cover before we get down to it…
1. A succinct craft beer definition even alludes top beer writers such as Pete Brown, Sophie Atherton and Lincolnite, Matt Curtis. For this I’m counting craft beer as “keg stuff” with more flavour than a beer mat and any bottles more exciting than Spoons. I’ll get to cask beer in a later post so don’t get your sandals in a twist.
2. I’m defining Lincoln as anything in stumbling distance of the city centre.
Strait and Narrow
Though primarily a cocktail bar the Strait has a close relationship with Welsh brewery Tiny Rebel and as such I had a stunning collaboration stout from Tiny Rebel and Kyoto Brewing Company the last time I went in. It was the only UK craft brew available however it had very good company in an impressive range of European beers including Delirium Tremens.
There’s always a healthy chunk of Tiny Rebel, BrewDog (including a lot of special brews such as the Born To Die series and Paradox), Wild Beer Co (I’d highly recommend trying the Somerset Wild. It’s a personal favourite of mine with its tart apple flavour) in the fridges. The selection chops and changes almost as often as the fabulous cocktail menu.
Definitely a bar to avoid on weekends if you don’t like crowds, but in my opinion it’s got the best vibe late night on a weekday. Chilled atmosphere, good music and there’s normally a fair few people in. Plus it’s a great place for a good brew if some of your friends aren’t hopheads.
The West End Tap
Disclaimer: Yes, I work here. But you know why I started drinking here originally? Because nowhere else in town sold any good keg beers when it first opened and since then the selection has gone from strength to strength.
Even though there’s not room for a huge range, three taps host rotating guest beers. Beavertown is very often seen both on tap and in the fridges and I’ve not spotted it in any other bar in Lincoln. Special brews from Oakham Ales show their faces often thanks to the pub’s membership of Oakham’s Oakademy of Excellence. It’s also the only place in Lincoln and probably further that has Kwak on draft. That alone makes it worth a trip to the West End if you love Belgian beer.
Surprise entry! I take my pub snob hat off to this bar. Yes, it’s a big chain and yes, it shows a lot of Sports™ and yes, it can smell of chips and traditional masculinity a lot of the time but if you think I’m not gonna mention a pub where I can shovel breaded mushrooms into my face with a pint of Dead Pony Club in a sunny beer garden then you’ve got another thing coming.
The bar always has nice range of craft beer including the aforementioned BrewDog (I once had a Zeitgeist there whilst watching an acoustic act… I could have almost forgotten it was a chain!) and Derbyshire phenomenon Jaipur. Cask fans will appreciate the local brews that also pop up on the bar.
The Crafty Bottle
Lincoln’s new beer shop has made this beer geek very happy. Their selection really impresses me and it’s constantly changing too. It has a prime spot at the bottom of Steep Hill, hanging out with the Strait and Narrow and The Cardinal’s Hat (and if you fancy pairing some beers, The Cheese Society). Do I see a bottle share club in Lincoln’s future? I think I do.
As well as a fabulous selection of cans and bottles from Camden Town Brewery, The Kernel, Evil Twin Brewing and Magic Rock they also sell the full range of beers from their sister brewery, The Lincolnshire Brewing Company and a selection of home brew supplies. Even though they’ve only been open since February I’ve got high hopes for this little shop as it puts a spring in the step of Lincoln’s growing beer scene.
The Rogue Saint
I tend to get stuck into their wonderful selection of whisky and bourbon when I’m in here but it’s definitely the bar to hit for good music and American craft beer. They’ve got a fab selection of bottles from Brooklyn Brewery (including the heavenly saison Sorachi Ace) and aptly, a huge range from Rogue Ales including their infamous Voodoo beers.
If you don’t fancy a bottle, Blue Moon and Pilsner Urquell are on tap and Sharps Atlantic and Thornbridge Jaipur are normally on handpull and -like their sister venue, The Strait and Narrow- they also have a decadent cocktail menu.
The Cardinal’s Hat This stunning renovation of a 15th century pub gave the Lincoln beer scene a much needed kick in the nuts but the craft selection doesn’t stand up to the varied and quality cask range. They’ve got a house ale, lager and cider which is a nice touch even though the brews at the end of the pipes aren’t exciting as one would hope. They do have a nice handful of imported kegs and bottles from breweries such as Lagunitas IPA and Boulevard Brewing Co.
Lincoln Taphouse & Kitchen Though a foody place more than a beery place, this venue has a great selection of beers on tap and in the fridges. Definitely the best thing about the Taphouse is the way they use various beers in the menu. You’ve not lived until you’d had Titanic Plum Porter gravy.