With the resurgence of interest in our national drink and the rapid increase in the number of microbreweries, it’s never been easier to find a great pint of real ale. Here Steven Renshaw from the Lincoln branch of CAMRA reveals his top places to indulge in an excellent pint...
The Strugglers Inn, Lincoln
It nestles in the shadow of the castle walls and is described by regulars as a proper pub. There are no distractions from TV screens or piped music, so lively conversations develop easily in the two cosy rooms. It attracts a varied clientele and is a magnet for locals and visitors alike. Landlady Anna is passionate about real ale, and the ever-changing selection on the eight handpumps is always in tip-top condition. You’ll always find one or two beers from local microbreweries. The small, sunken garden to the rear is a sun trap in the summer.
The Dog and Bone, Lincoln
It's a hidden gem among the old terraced houses off Monks Road. It’s a thriving community run by enthusiastic husband and wife team Chris and Sarah Sorrell. There’s a collection of old valve radios and paraphernalia that always sparks discussion, and the pub’s board games are popular and well-used. The walls display works from local artists, and the wonderful garden is an oasis of calm. On the bar, you’ll find five real ales and two handpull ciders. The pub belongs to Batemans so beers from this long-established, Lincolnshire family brewery feature, along with interesting guest ales.
Dambusters Inn, Scampton
Walking in, you can imagine wartime bomber crews driving down to relax between sorties. Prepare for a surprise - although the building is over 200 years old, it’s only been a pub since 1999. The conversion is impressive, with the interior having all the trappings of a traditional village pub. But the most striking feature is the fascinating collection of memorabilia and information about 617 Squadron and the famous bombing raid. Landlord Greg Algar has gradually increased the number of handpumps from two to six, dispensing a changing selection of ales from small breweries in the local area and further afield. And he’s now installed a microbrewery to produce a house ale.
This is a traditional pub located in a small village between Gainsborough and Lincoln. The building dates back to 1845 and still has many of its original features, including solid oak beams and open fireplaces. Landlord Phil Troop has been in charge since 1996 and, in 2007, he converted the garage at the side of the pub into a microbrewery. Grafters Brewery has gone from strength to strength and, in 2013, a major reinvestment resulted in a quadrupling of the brewing capacity. Generally, four Grafters beers are available on the bar, along with guests, mostly from microbreweries.
The Gas Camp Lounge
Phil Ellis started brewing in the village of Fulstow in 2004. Two years later, Fulstow Brewery moved into larger premises adjacent to Louth Canal. The building was formerly the head office of Louth Gas Light Company and, with Phil’s arrival, The Gas Lamp Lounge became the first brewery in Louth for over a century. In 2010, part of the building’s ground floor was converted into a real ale bar - complete with gas wall lights. On the bar are four beers from the upstairs brewery, together with a guest. The single-roomed bar is popular with dog owners taking a walk along the canal path.