CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 2 Pubs in South Yorkshire & Lincolnshire
The Turnpike, 28 High Street, Bawtry, South Yorkshire
Tap & Spile, 21 Hungate, Lincoln, North Lincolnshire
Having made several trips to South Yorkshire, I'm always more than willing to try a new pub on each trip. On my last visit we spent the night in Bawtry at the Granby Arms (62 High Street), a popular pub which was staging an extremely loud and well-attended disco on this particular Friday evening. After spending such a long, gruelling day fighting our way up the motorway, we felt like a slightly more peaceful pint. So we headed down the road to the Turnpike.
I'm sure there were others at the pub like ourselves seeking refuge from the Granby's music, which was blasting through Bawtry like Marshall stacks from a mile-long block party. Here everything seemed so civilized and, to put it bluntly, non-earsplitting. The Turnpike is a comfortable pub, quite busy on this weekend night but a comfortably density of busy-ness, with a reasonably mixed crowd enjoying their conversations. Our pints of Ruddles County Bitter (4.7% ABV, Morland, Abingdon, Oxfordshire) were extremely welcome. This is a most drinkable bitter, especially after an exhausting drive from Chatham through storming rain and heavy traffic. It's quite strong in alcohol, too, but it doesn't feel like it, especially if you're drinking it while stretching your legs and rolling your head and sighing a lot from motorway exhaustion like I was doing. Yes, this is a revitalising -- but thankfully not intensifying -- ale.
After the pubs closed we had a light meal at Lancers Indian restaurant further down the street (at 20 High Street). We accompanied our prawn dansak, mushroom bhaji, and peswari naan with pints of Stones Bitter (3.7% ABV, Bass Brewers Ltd., Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire) -- a perfect quaff for spicy Indian food. In fact, I think all Indian restaurants in this country should be required to serve Stones Bitter on the handpump. Let's start a petition, shall we?
On a previous trip up to South Yorkshire we'd started the long haul back south when we decided to stop for the night in the city of Lincoln. This beautiful city boasts not only a spectacular English Gothic cathedral and a castle with breathtaking views, a number of impressive museums, a Roman harbour, and the Norman Stonebow (the oldest bridge in England which still bears buildings), but there are so many pubs in Lincoln I wouldn't know where to begin.
Fortunately my companion and I enjoy this sort of challenge, and we started at the Tap & Spile. This pub was taken over 11 months ago by a couple new to the business who enjoy people and take their real ale quite seriously. They had a large selection of real ales, and when we noticed there was to be a music quiz that evening we decided we should stay and sample a few.
The first pint was Fuller's Summer Ale (3.9% ABV, Fuller, Smith and Turner, London). I believe I've mentioned this before, but I'll say it again: this is a proper summer beer! It's refreshing yet interesting, almost chocolatey, and it follows a fresh-picked strawberry very well. If you don't have a fresh-picked strawberry on hand don't fret -- it's great without it as well.
We moved on to pints of Black Sheep Best (3.8% ABV, Black Sheep Brewery, Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire). This is a good music-quiz beer, mild, smooth, and quietly supportive of the drinker's attempts to recall obscure songs and has-been artists. It's a bit too smooth for my taste, but I suppose I expected a black sheep to be a bit more startling.
We ended up with pints of Tap & Spile Premium. I'm not sure who brews this beer -- I recently read the Tap & Spile line has been taken over by Mansfield, but I'm not sure if this is true -- and I can't tell you what the ABV is. But I can describe the beer as tasting smooooooooooo - ootthohmySTRONGGGGGGGGGGG! It's a nice growing beer, like a culture taking over a pint-sized Petrie dish, like a copepod blossoming into a surprisingly robust and welcome herb. In other words, a nice drop.Needless to say we ended the night at the Tap & Spile as well. But how could we avoid it, with all those real ales to taste and the music quiz (which we lost, oddly enough) and the devoted attentions of Roxie the Rottweiller and her buddy Tazzy, the landlords' dogs who sensed a couple of reliable rubber ball throwers the minute we walked in? How could we go anywhere else? These dogs needed their exercise, and this was their pub. Who were we to argue?
Besides, think of all those future trips we'll have to make for the purpose of trying all the other pubs in Lincoln...