As pub crawls go, this was a humdinger, with 62 men and women joining in and hundreds of pints downed.
It was the brainchild of Jason Watson, manager at the Prior’s Oven, Spalding’s micro-pub and, according to him, the first in Lincolnshire.
He says there are just over 100 micro-pubs in the country these days, and defines them as: “No music, no lager, no slot machines or juke boxes.”
The Prior’s Oven serves wine, but a lot don’t.
Jason says: “The whole point of this pub is to sell locally brewed ales, mainly from micro breweries, which are popping up all over the place.”
The pub crawl, or micro brewery tour, was intended to show customers there were a number of brewers on the doorstep and to give them an insight into the brewing process.
It was also by way of a contrast to the previous two visits to larger breweries, Ellgood’s at Wisbech and Batemans Brewery at Wainfleet.
Everyone met at the Prior’s Oven, co-owned by Charlie Rawlings who runs Austendyke Ales at Weston Hills, and boarded a Tydd Travel coach to their first destination, Market Deeping. There, two micro breweries are run from adjoining industrial units, Hopshackle Historic Ales and Star Brewing.
Nigel Wright from Hopshackle unfortunately had a family bereavement so couldn’t be there for the group, but kindly left each of them a bottle of 7.2 per cent ale with his neighbour, Simon Raines.
Jason says: “That was a very good starting point. You tend to start on the weaker ones and pace yourself, but everyone did the reverse and got straight in.”
At Star Brewing, brewer Simon Raines gave a talk on the brewing process to half the group, while the others made a start on the barrel he had made available – 72 pints of Dark Matter, a traditional stout. Jason, who says all their beers are named after stars and things in the galaxy, says most were still pacing themselves, though there were one or two “hard core drinkers” at this point.
He says: “You expect it to get a little bit messy, but I didn’t want people to peak too early.”
From there, it was on to Tydd Steam Brewery at Tydd St Giles, where brewer Will Neaverson obviously has a sense of humour: his ales have names like Cock, Cunning Linctus, Piston Bob.
It was his best-selling Barn Ale and Armageddon that the group, which had ”mellowed” by this stage, was drinking. Jason says the group looked around, but “just wanted to get to the beer really”.
The best part of 144 pints later, the group, getting “a bit unruly”, got back on the bus.