Thursday, 27 July 2017

All Day And (nearly) All of The Knights in Lincoln.

A Knight to remember?
Or Steve enjoying a
 Blue Moon
Just prior to Jane & I flying off on our Summer vacation to Malta, I had arranged a day out with a friend of ours, Steve, in Lincoln. Now, although we only live an hour away from the County capital of Lincolnshire, we are not what you would call frequent visitors to this history steeped cathedral city. Steve had been there fleetingly, by car, on shopping trips, being dragged around as part of his partner's retail therapy. This was usually followed by hitting the nearest pub to the car park for a spot of lunch and a quick pint, then the drive home. He forlornly admitted to not being aware of the lay of the land when it came to the cask beer bars and craft ale establishments of the city. I, on the other hand, had been a couple of times over the last couple of years, my last trip as recently as December (Here). So, we set a date, found the times of the trains and arranged to meet up. Our chosen Friday morning duly arrived, and with newly acquired tickets in hand, not to mention 30 minutes to waste before departure, we re-adjourned to The Yarborough Hotel, purchased a couple of beers and waited. I chose a can of Sixpoint Brewing Co "Bengali", an IPA of 6.5% with slight tropical fruit tones coming through on the back of a wonderful bitterness, which leads to a good zesty grapefruit finish. Steve, meanwhile, plumped for the creamy, orange and coriander laced "Blue Moon", the 5.4% Belgian White Ale brewed by MillerCoors. Whilst enjoying these beers in the hot May sunshine of North East Lincolnshire ( and, yes, it was hot!) I relayed to my drinking partner the recently acquired news that "It's the Lincoln CAMRA Beer Festival this weekend too!"
"Oh, we're not going to get pissed and miss the train home, are we?"
I assured him all would be well. A Beermonster has a homing instinct like a racing pigeon when it comes to relying on public transportation after several beers. Well I hoped I was correct in my assumption. I was also aware that there would also be the distraction of some Street art to contend with on our crawl. We finished off and headed back across the road to the station.
A small selection of The Cardinal's Hat
beer selection.
Around 60 minutes later, just after midday, we alighted our train at our desired location. I took my unofficial Beer and Pub Guide stance next to my willing-to-learn hostelry tourist, advising ".....just one to start in the T.O.C.", as we headed round the corner to The Treaty of Commerce. In here I sampled the B&T Shefford Brewing Co 3.8% "Plum Mild", which had a reasonable liquorice malt taste at the fore before the plum back tones hit the palate. The finish was dry and satisfying. Steve went  for a favourite of his, Bateman's "Gold", 3.9%. Unfortunately, he had to wait a while for the barrel to be changed, and when his favoured beer did arrive, it wasn't, shall we say, on top form. It wasn't undrinkable, but just not at its best. Being outside now, it did not deter us from enjoying the lovely rays of sunshine allowing us to bask in the pub's beer garden. After these, we partly retraced our footsteps back, before heading up the High Street, (passing many a Knight on the way, as part of Lincoln's A Knight's Trail, celebrating 800 years since The Battle of Lincoln. I think we encountered a fair few of the 30 odd statues on our meandering) and onto The Strait to the next pub on our agenda, the well stocked Cardinal's Hat. "Lilith's Lust" a Bitter of 4.1% from Horncastle Ales was Steve's choice, which had a good malty body with a slightly spicy bitterness, and was as traditional as any bitter should be. I went for Brass Castle "Hazelnut Mild". This 4.2% brew had coffee, slight chocolate and moderately sweet toffee hints at the outset before the nuttiness steers you to a bitter-sweet finish. I enjoyed this one, but the sweetness would become a bit cloying if drank as a session ale. After taking on these brews as sustenance, we were ready to face Steep Hill in one controlled, exhausting push. A couple of landmarks, more Knights and places of interest were intimated to, briefly, with gasps of breath taken in between, but on the whole it was a pretty silent transit up the slope. Our next stop was the Samuel Smith's managed Widow Cullen's Well. This lovely pub, in the Cathedral Quarter is as cheap as chips, friendly and in keeping with its historic surroundings. It also boasts its own well underneath it, which can (almost) be seen through a perspex  viewing hatch on the way to the toilets. There was just the one cask ale on, Samuel Smith's "Old Brewery Bitter", the only cask beer brewed by this brewery now, and there was no guest cask beers, as is the norm, although the keg range was quite ample. Oh, well (no pun intended), we would have to have a pint each of that, then. To be fair it is quite a reasonable beer to sample, with slight biscuit and hints of fruit helping to lift this 4% ale to a reasonable bitter and moderately dry finish. Next up on the tour, after finishing our reviving pints of OBB, and situated just round the corner from our previous hostelry, was the recently opened Cask-Restaurant and Brewhouse, in Drury Lane. This alehouse is in the footprints of both the Cathedral and Lincoln Castle, with great views of the latter's formidable walls. There were half a dozen cask ales on offer, all local, as well as a brew plant situated inside the pub. On our visit we were informed that the pub's very own beers would be available in a few weeks, so we settled for pints of Dukeries Pale Ale, 4%, and 8 Sail Brewery's 4.7%  "A Knight's Ale". Both had fruity undertones and citrus at the back, but "A Knight's Ale", my chosen brew, had a satisfying malt vein running through to the finish, which was quite long.
It had now been over 4 hours since my drinking partner had eaten, so, solids had to be sought out. Curtis, the Butcher was our next port of call, (having passed another Knight, or two en-route ), as it was the nearest grub outlet to where we had left, in the direction of our next pub, The Strugglers Inn. Steve eagerly awaited his Big baguette, filled with chicken, salad and whatever else could be crammed in, whilst I was perfectly happy, if I had to graze, with a Lincolnshire sausage roll.
The Strugglers beer garden
"Is that it?!, ...A sausage roll?....Just one?......Nah! I couldn't do that.......Just A sausage roll??!" went the conversation as we made our way round to the other side of Lincoln Castle, finally coming to rest at The Strugglers. My last visit here, in December, was marred by an alcohol induced self inflicted dose of amnesia, so, it would be nice to see the place again to discover what I missed last time, even with only one sausage roll on board. Steve went for a pint of 4.6% "Minerva" from Milton Brewery, which is a Golden Ale which after initial fruit and caramel, had a big hoppy punch, and  refreshing bitterness. I had a half of Newby Wyke "Nagato", 6%, which was dry and fruity at the outset and followed by a big as a beach-ball grapefruit finish. Wow! This was a good beer.
"Only half, is it?", Steve enquired, followed by "I couldn't do that"
" Well, Yes. To be fair,.." I replied, "...  sometimes less IS more, somehow, especially  with some of these bigger flavoured brews. You don't get bogged down with all those flavours and subtle undertones which are going on if you savour them,and don't just sup them......equally important if you have only had one sausage roll!!" After more beer garden tanning, we left to reconvene  at The Victoria, barely two minutes walk away. Now back in the pint envelope, it was to be Bateman's "Mr George" Golden Ale for me, and a pint of Timothy Taylor's "Landlord" for Steve. "Mr George", 4.4%, is a light, slightly fruity beer with a pleasant, quite floral hopped finish, which is extremely refreshing. It was most welcome on this warm afternoon as we, again, chose to sit outside and bake a little more in the sun. Our minds, or rather my guided tour itinerary, started to turn towards the Beer Festival, taking place in Lincoln's Drill Hall. The plan was to head off there next, but on retracing some of our footsteps, coinciding with a visit to The Crafty Bottle beer shop, I needed to stock up on some beers at home, We, complete with a carrier bag containing half a dozen "home" beers, entered the Strait and Narrow for one more before the Festival. I like the modern and cosmopolitan feel in here, and the range of beers, cask, craft and bespoke International lagers is quite impressive, as is the spirits and liqueurs line-up. Steve once again went for Timothy Taylor's, but I could not pass up a Bude Kreft Beer "Draco Raspberry Milk Stout", 4.5%.. Chocolate, toffee and raspberry, of course, are in the main of this smooth stout. The flavours combine extremely well and are well balanced. The finish is moderately sweet at the front with a dry bitterness gradually taking over. Very enjoyable.
We arrived at the Beer Festival (via more of those Knights) around 5-30 pm and there was a very good turnout. With this being the second day of three we had missed out on some of the beers , the good ones always run out first, but there was still an enormous array to choose from. We took the beer list, ticked off the ones we had tried previously, and then picked out a few we would try to get through. Sensibly, we both decided on sampling halves instead of pints. We managed to sample eight different brews between us. Other than ticking the sheet, we didn't bother making our own notes but suffice to say, they all  kept pretty much to their festival descriptive billing.Our beers were:-
Great turnout at a good location.
Axholme "Dockers Mild" 3.5%.- described in the Festival notes as "A classic dark mild."
Castle Rock "Hemlock Bitter" 4% -" Full flavoured with fruity notes on the palate, hop ending."
Chadwick's "Castle Mill  Mild" 3.6% -"Black full bodied dark mild, smooth rounded, with a liquorice aftertaste"
Ferry Ales "Smokey Joe Porter" 4.9% -" Classic style Porter with slight smokiness"
Lincoln Green "Big Ben" 6% - "Dark mild with hints of toffee & treacle. Sweet finish"
Marble "Pint" 3.9% -"Dry session bitter with notes of citrus & grapefruit"
Mighty Oak "King's" 4.2% -"Deep golden beer brewed wit NZ Nelson Sauvin hops. Long bitter finish
Peerless "Triple Blonde" 3.8% -"Blonde beer with fruity, citrus finish"
We finished off, and decided to make tracks for the station. "Just one more on the way back?"  I suggested. It was agreed we would pop in the Jolly Brewer. "Where is it?" enquired Steve, as we came out of the Drill Hall. "There" I said, pointing at the green painted facade of the pub directly opposite.What a good place to have another pub!  2 minutes later, we were entering the pub which, surprise, surprise, was also holding its own Beer Festival! Talk about lucky, eh. The Jolly Brewer had the its usual offerings on the bar inside, and a dozen festival ales in the beer garden to the rear, not to mention a good line up of real ciders. This being a sort of celebration to Lincoln, its pubs and local Ales, we decided to raise a glass to a fantastic day out with a pint each of Lincolnshire Brewing Company "Festival Beer", 3.7%. Brewed for The Jolly Brewer Festival. All I can say is this beer reflected our day. Easy going, pleasing and good for a session.
Next post on The Beermonsters Blog will be a surprising return to Malta and Gozo.
Cheers and keep it "Real"