A Christmas treat

by Steve Renshaw

I love the Christmas Market! The sights, the sounds, the smells, the jostling crowds – I love it all.

It’s really interesting to listen to the comments of first-time visitors to the city. Before coming here, many have no idea what a great place Lincoln is. And a few have no idea where Lincoln is!

The Market is certainly a marvelous showcase for the city. And as we ambled round this year, I realised that it’s also a great showcase for local beer and pubs.

So here are my beery highlights from this year’s Market.

  • Watching the crowds in Castle Square from the upstairs room of the Magna Carta while enjoying a beer from East Markham’s Pheasantry Brewery.
  • Checking on the progress of the work at what was Roman’s Place in Drury Lane. It was about to open as Cask, a pizzeria and brewhouse. And there were seven casks of real ale in the cellar ready to be served.
  • Having a break in the Victoria with Bateman’s Rosey Nosey, the classic Christmas brew.
  • Sampling the ale and chatting with the two Steves at the Cathedral Heights Brewery bar.
  • Squeezing into the Strugglers. Given the number of extra casks in stock, the cellar must have been as crammed as the bar.
  • Enjoying a beer and a bite to eat at the Lincoln TapHouse & Kitchen. Occupying what was the Terrace on the Bail (and before that, the Cloud Bar), this is a bold, new project from the team behind the West End Tap.

The Market is a huge boost for the pubs in the uphill area. And, of course, the Christmas period is a boost for all pubs. But how many will still be open next year? January and February can be a real struggle for publicans because not enough of the seasonal drinkers make return visits in the depths of winter.

To coin a phrase, a pub is for life, not just for Christmas.

And what about the beer? Castle Dungeon (5.4%) is a chocolate stout from Cathedral Heights Brewery in Bracebridge Heath. It is jet black with a thick, creamy head that is completely natural – no need for an injection of nitrogen and carbon dioxide here. The initial liquorice sweetness is followed but not overwhelmed by bitterness from the roasted malt. What a shame we can’t find great local beers like this more often in Lincoln pubs!