Friday, 20 September 2013

Real Ale in Lincoln

After a long journey across country by train, when I got to Lincoln, I needed something to revive me!
Fortunately, my Young Man had already been researching the local hostelries, and led me to The Treaty of Commerce, close to the level crossing at the end of High Street.
I had forgotten that Lincoln was in the general area of the Bateman's brewery, but seeing the Bateman's name on the sign board of The Treaty of Commerce made me feel very happy. When I started to drink real ale back in Norwich, many years ago, the two breweries that I immediately took notice of were Bateman's and Adnams - and not just because one of them has a windmill as part of the brewery, and the other has its own lighthouse!
As the weekend wore on, we noticed lots of signs that this is a city with a good pub culture, and it's not only a stronghold of Batemans - there are Marstons pubs as well, and quite a few with CAMRA signs in their windows.
On the first evening of Steampunk Asylum, we had been told that people would be gathering at Widow Cullen's Well, which is also the meeting place of the local Steampunk society. This was when we found out just how steep Steep Hill really is! By the time we got to the doors of the pub, we were gasping - and definitely in need of a drink! Widow Cullen's Well is a Samuel Smith's pub, and the pints amazed us with their low prices. We tried the dark mild and the Imperial porter to start with, and followed it up with the (more expensive but still very reasonable) bottles of Oatmeal Stout and Chocolate Stout. The building itself is 14th century in origin, and there are exposed beams upstairs. We sat near a bay window which was obviously far later in date than the medieval tenements that had occupied the space originally, and looked across the narrow street outside - which had once been the Roman Via Principalis - the main road up to the Roman fort at the top of the hill. I reckon they wouldn't have been able to march more than four abreast - and there's no way any horse drawn carts could have made that climb, in any century.
The two main pubs that seemed to be used by the Steampunk community over the rest of the weekend were the Victoria at the western entrance to the castle, and the Lion and Snake by the Assembly Halls, both of which we spent time in. The food in the Lion and Snake was good pub grub, and the beer in both (the Lion and Snake is a Marstons pub) is excellent. The Victoria serves Batemans and several guest ales, and also does food. Both of them were good places to watch the world go by and marvel at the inventiveness of the costumes.

Those were the pubs we actually managed to visit, but there were others that we wished we had time to go into as well. The Magna Carta, on the square between the Castle and the Cathedral, for instance - another Marstons pub which was reputed to be one of the oldest in Lincoln (which means that the 14thC Widow Cullen's Well isn't one of the oldest in Lincoln!), and the Green Dragon, a stone building down near the river, which we saw from the windows of the taxi but never got close to.

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