Fenland pubs listed in the Good Beer Guide

Bull Inn, Pinchbeck, Macmillan coffee morning AND a picture of John and Heather Allen, Karys, Adel etc for Jean's 2016 Good Beer Guide 'Staff Joe Rowledge, aaron Anderson, Heather Allen, Anabelle Brasier, Kerry Rogers, Rhys Brasier, Simon Matthews ANL-150926-124226001
Bull Inn, Pinchbeck, Macmillan coffee morning AND a picture of John and Heather Allen, Karys, Adel etc for Jean's 2016 Good Beer Guide 'Staff Joe Rowledge, aaron Anderson, Heather Allen, Anabelle Brasier, Kerry Rogers, Rhys Brasier, Simon Matthews ANL-150926-124226001
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Occasionally it may be about quantity, but it’s always quality that counts when it comes to picking a pub that serves good beer.

Occasionally it may be about quantity, but it’s always quality that counts when it comes to picking a pub that serves good beer.

And it seems only a handful of pubs in this district know the secret to doing that, judging by the latest Good Beer Guide.

The guide, launched at the Holbeach micro-pub The Cask in Hand, reveals the seven establishments that have impressed judges - CAMRA volunteers who regularly check pubs.

According to Nigel Wilkins, proprietor of the Red Lion Hotel in Spalding which has retained its listing, keeping a good beer is about temperature, the clarity of the beer and the cleanliness of the glasses.

However, Nigel adds: “The secret to keeping real ale is turnover, keeping it moving through the pumps and not having it sitting there too long.”

There is no danger of that happening because bar manager John Wilkins and duty manager Lucy Pettit are shifting three real ales – Bass, Abbot Ale and Bombadier – at any time during the summer months, and that increases to four once the weather turns chillier.

It’s the second year of being entered in the guide for the Prior’s Oven in Spalding where manager Jason Watson says they keep six real ales on at all times – all from local micro-breweries.

Jason adds: “We are the only pub to sell our beer straight out of the barrel so it’s as good as it gets really. We don’t have to worry about cleaning pipes or anything.”

The third Spalding pub in the guide, The Ivy Wall, is so passionate about real ales that manager Charlotte Mason says they have planned a Meet the Breweries evening on October 14 when a representative from Elgoods Brewery will be showcasing its beers from 6pm and customers can learn more about how they are made and try samples.

At the Bull Inn at Pinchbeck landlords John and Heather Allen currently keep John Smith’s Cask, Henry’s IPA and Old Speckled Hen and, like most pubs listed, that changes on a regular basis.

Heather, who has been at the pub for 24 years in December, says: “We listen to what out customers want.”

The Duke of York at Gosberton Risegate has been in the guide for 20 years next year, according to landlady Susan Goodenough and bar manager Phil Britten.

They always have three real ales, sometimes four, and say their success is down to the regular maintenance of the pipes plus the ultimate test – drinking the beer themselves!

It’s the first year of entry for the Cask in Hand at Holbeach, which has been open for 18 months selling three or four real ales.

Landlord Sam Richardson says: “We never have the same beer more than once and we are up to 250 we have tried over the 18 months.”

It’s hard work, but someone has to do it to promote and protect Britain’s real ales.

• Fenland branch of CAMRA chairman Nigel Woodburn says there are 30 Good Beer Guide pubs in the entire area covered by his branch – and about 4,500 listed across the whole of the UK.

Locally, the seventh pub listed is the Ship at Fosdyke, where no one was available to talk to us.

The guide is in its 43rd edition and is completely independent. Pubs are regularly checked by CAMRA volunteers and cannot pay to be included.