A Beer Tourist’s Guide to Lincoln, England

This page started life as a regular blog post. I have now changed it into part of the “Beer Tourist’s Guide to…” series. As with the other guides, this isn’t a comprehensive list of all pubs in Lincoln, just the ones I have visited. You can also find a Google map at the bottom of this page to help you locate these pubs.

In the area, with a day free and fresh from a good night’s sleep after a top day at the Great British Beer Festival, a pub crawl around Lincoln felt in order. Lincoln is of course famed for its Cathedral which looms over the city and that can be seen from miles away, but it also has an evolving pub and bar scene too. The team at the Visit Lincoln website have recognised this and pulled together a handy guide which you can find here.

I did my homework beforehand as there are around 30 pubs listed and it’s not possible to do them all in one day! The pubs I wanted to focus on were those that were Cask Marque accredited, or an Untappd verified venue, or in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide book, or just sounded interesting! This cut the list to around 14, manageable, although I then cut that list again based on gut feel as to whether it would be my type of venue or not. A lot of thought goes into my pub crawls! So, here are the highlights of my trip to Lincoln.

Struggler’s Inn

I’ve passed this pub a few times when visiting Lincoln’s Christmas market but never had opportunity to go in. Sadly, I’ve been missing out; what a fantastic pub. As soon as you walk in the landlady provides a warm welcome and you’re sucked in to a world of great beer and interest throughout the pub. The beer first, cask is the focal point for the bar and there are 10 lines available. This venue is not only Cask Marque accredited, but is also a recipient of multiple CAMRA awards, including most recently Lincoln CAMRA’s ‘City Pub of the Year 2017’. The beer choice was good, but more importantly the quality was top notch.

Throughout the pub, beer memorabilia is everywhere – the ceiling just recently covered in pump clips that form lovely spiral and figure of 8 patterns. Posters and cards everywhere with beer related one liners and quotes. On one wall, there was also a maintained list of all the Lincoln hotels and inns, past and present. For the warm days, there is also an outdoor seating area and on occasion, they open the back gate which provides direct access to the Victoria pub next door.

The Struggler’s is a stunning pub and in my view well worthy of its CAMRA awards. If you find yourself in Lincoln, this pub should go right to the top of your visit list.

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Cask

From the Struggler’s, walk through the grounds of Lincoln Castle and in its shadow, you will find Cask. Open just a few months, this bar is cask focused as you’d expect given the name but also specialises in pizza, with a modern pizza oven being one of the focal points of the bar.

I must admit, it did feel like there was still a lot of work to do in this bar. The beer choice and quality was good, but overall it felt a little rough around the edges. There was a mixed bag of different style seats and tables, some of the finishes around walls and tiling needed work, and there was a small brew kit set up at one side that I’m not sure has ever been used. At the moment, it’s decorated with fairy lights which suggests there aren’t plans for its use in the short term either. The staff were friendly and welcoming and in the future, I hope to visit this place again to see how it’s progressing as I think it has huge potential, the location alone could see it have massive footfall.

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Widow Cullen’s Well

This is a Sam Smith’s pub and it’s not like any other Sam Smith’s pub I’ve been in. My experiences have usually been like stepping back in time, very traditional. This pub was much more modern, it is light with nice décor. As with all Sam Smith’s pubs, all beer products on sales are those brewed at Sam Smith’s brewery. Although they don’t set the world on fire, they do have a few gems in the portfolio. More importantly for your wallet, you will not find any pub cheaper than a Sam Smith’s and I include Wetherspoon pubs in that statement too.

Once again, the staff were friendly and welcoming, although be warned as these pubs operate a strict no swearing policy!

Strait and Narrow

Set on the Strait (hence the name), this bar is a good size, plays music and sells lots of spirits and cocktails. A standard Friday/Saturday night party venue on the face of it, however they have a pretty special range of beers which makes this place stand out.

As you walk in, the first set of beer taps that greet you are full of Belgian and German beers. A bit further on and there are 5 cask hand pulls with a great selection of less common ales to choose from. Finally, towards the end of the bar, a small set of taps that looks to focus on speciality and strong ales. Amongst the range available were beers from Thornbridge, Wild Beer Co., Brewdog and Cloudwater.

Chatting with (I assume) the bar manager, you could sense his passion about beer and he was really interested in hearing my recommendations as to beers he could have available from breweries in Leeds. Another must visit pub.

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Cardinals Hat

I visited this one based on recommendation I got in the Strait and Narrow. It’s also conveniently just a few doors away from there too. This bar is bright and airy with lots of space. Once again, a very good selection of beers available, including brews from some new local micro-breweries and a selection of house beers available, including ‘Cardinal’s Hat Ale’ and ‘Cardinal’s Hat Lager’. What stood out was that large number of hand pulls, of which a few were dedicated to cider. The staff were friendly again and seemed to have good banter with everyone who walked in the door.

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Finally

I did visit two other pubs, although they turned out to be not my personal choice of drinking locations, but they were still good. First of all, the Mailbox, which has a sister site near Woodhouse Moor in Leeds – the Library. This had a good range of beer available; the style of the bar is much more focussed towards students and sports. Staff here were also very friendly.

The last one on the list was the William Foster. The best way I can describe this place is like a Wetherspoon pub without being one. Beer choice was ok, but very safe – 3 cask lines with one dedicated to cider. All other taps were offering common and popular lager products, although there was some interest in the fridges, with beers from Brewdog and Goose Island.

It was really interesting to see Lincoln’s pub scene and although not in the same place as a Leeds or Manchester at the moment, it is evolving. I look forward to my next visit and ticking off a few other pubs that I missed and re-visiting some of these ones to see how they are getting on.

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