It’s been two years since I last did a round up and there’s been plenty of change in Lincoln’s craft beer world. Some bars have improved their selection, some don’t have as much and some have come and gone in this time.
The beer world nationally has grown and changed hugely. Camden and Brewdog aren’t as cool as before, sour beers are everywhere and you can even get Beavertown and Geuze Boon in supermarkets. I’m not sure my standards for this list are higher, or just different, but I was pleasantly surprised that my choices weren’t as easy as I first expected.
Whether you’re popping to Lincoln to see the Imps, visit the castle, to watch the swans from a safe distance, or you simply live here and fancy somewhere new—here’s my guide to the best places to get craft beer in Lincoln’s historic city centre.
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 that aren’t commonplace in supermarkets.
2. I’m defining Lincoln as anything in stumbling distance of the city centre.
Strait and Narrow
When I last wrote this list I remember thinking out how the Strait and Narrow had improved so much on the beer front when it first opened. Now it’s even better. They have regular tap takeovers and recently teamed up with their sister venue, The Rogue Saint for an West Coast vs East Coast takeover featuring Beavertown, Atom, Wylam, Verdant, Whiplash and Tiny Rebel.
The selection in the fridges is still fantastic and changes regularly and the staff really know their stuff. With an addition of a new T bar solely for craft beer there’s a lot more “craft” choice as well as the huge choice of Belgian beers.
If you don’t like being rammed against a selection of random people (who doesn’t once in a while?) then the Strait and Narrow is one to avoid on weekends, 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 night out if not all of your friends are hopheads.
The newest edition to the Lincoln beer scene, I recently wrote about BeerheadZ over here and though it’s a baby beer den, I think it more than deserves it’s place on this list.
Walking through the historic Bailgate to BeerheadZ is a treat in itself even though the new bar is a modern beer house amidst some of the more traditional pubs around the Cathedral. It has a relaxing cafe vibe to it and welcomes patrons to bring in their own food (something I always like to see in places without a kitchen).
The beer selection itself is fantastic with ten keg lines, six handpulls and a couple of fridges. Most importantly; it’s dog friendly.
At the bottom of the hill is The Cardinal’s Hat which is one of the most gorgeous bars in the city centre. The upstairs room is full of lush armchairs and sofas, the walls boast work from local artists and there’s even a room tucked behind a door masquerading as a bookcase.
There are few places I’d choose over The Cardinal’s hat for a spot to curl up with a book, a beer and some of their brilliant bar snacks. They’ve got some solid regular beers on tap including Lagunitas IPA and Brewdog Jet Black Heart as well as having some really interesting guest beers from Brew York, Lost & Grounded and others both on tap and in the fridges.
Their cheese and meat menu is next level and honestly it’s a place worth going just for the food alone even though it is first and foremost a bar. The gin and whisky selection is also impressive and they’re one of the few places in the city centre with a choice of ciders on draught.
I wrote about Akēdo when it first appeared as even from the beginning they had an awesome little selection of beers. It started with just Brewdog and Magic Rock but now they have a impressive selection that varies each week including Electric Bear, Alphabet, Wild Weather Ales, Tiny Rebel and Beavertown.
Even though they only have about half a dozen different beers there’s always something interesting to try that you often can’t find in any other bar in Lincoln. For a bar who’s main focus is gaming rather than drinks it’s great that they always have a solid selection in the fridges.
The Crafty Bottle
Disclaimer: Yep, I work here. Come buy amazing beers from me and chill in our pop up beer lounge when it pops up. The shop’s event better than when I first included in 2016 before stepping behind the counter.
Still the only dedicated beer shop in Lincoln, The Crafty Bottle has a huge selection of beers , ciders (and occasionally meads!) that changes regularly with cans and bottles from the likes of Cloudwater, Omnipollo, Flying Dog, Evil Twin, Mikkeller, To Øl, The Kernel, Wild Card, Beavertown, Wild Beer Co and Roosters. There’s also a large range of gluten free beers from breweries around the world.
Since the winter The Crafty Bottle has also opened up a hideaway beer lounge tucked away upstairs during bank holiday weekends and throughout the summer. The lounge is also where their tutored beer tastings take place – the most recent one being a celebration of Centennial hops. Even when the lounge isn’t open there’s normally two beers available on hand pull to takeaway.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I wish I could spend more time in the beer lounge. It’s so chill and cosy up there and I’m always behind the counter!
The Strugglers Inn Though known for its cask ale the Strugglers has been frequently getting in some beer from the wood and to my annoyance I haven’t yet gotten up the hill in time for a half of Old Peculiar from a wooden cask. Many may disagree but I’ll always include beer from the wood in my definition of “craft beer” —mostly thanks to Beer Nouveau.
The Rogue Saint Alongside its sister venue The Strait and Narrow, The Rogue Saint has some awesome beers in even though the selection isn’t as huge. I did however get some brilliant Verdant cans recently which made my weekend. The Rogue Saint is definitely one for music lovers who want a good pint.