You could think of this as a shoddy compilation album that’s only been compiled to cash in on the overwhelming success of Let’s Go Pubbin’, but that’d be incredibly cynical of you. In fact, this is a glorious retrospection on the epic journey that Lancaster has played host to over the past couple of years. A shining ode to the many pints drunk in the name of journalism.
Sometimes the sun does shine in Lancaster, and there’s no better way to enjoy that than a nice chilled drink outdoors. Only a few pubs in Lancaster herald a beer garden, though some are more of a beer concrete plot than anything else.
We could start with Ring O’Bells, a pub with Lancaster’s ‘secret garden’, and it truly is surprising, stretching back more than the length of the pub itself. It’s multi-layered and offers plenty of space, though perhaps lacks the openness to watch the world go by.
Pendle Witch has a newly converted outdoor area, offering up pool, but seems somewhat out of place for a beer garden. The Boot & Shoe has recently undergone a makeover too, and whilst their garden is slick and shiny, it’s a bit out of the way unless you live in Bowerham.
So it comes down to the two canal pubs: The Water Witch and The White Cross. There’s an equal amount of seating outside of both, so it’s down to personal preference what you prefer. Personally I feel that the former is better on a sunny day, but not by much.
Winner: The Water Witch
For campus dwellers, you might not think that anything exists outside of Fylde for watching sport with a few beers. But when you inevitably move off campus in second year, you’ll be at your wits’ end searching for somewhere to spend your Super Sunday.
The Bobbin and The Brown Cow both show the football, and Fibbers is unrivalled in their amount of screens. The Golden Lion has a couple of screens too, but is let down by its poor layout. That’s not a criticism of the venue itself, but it clearly isn’t set up to be a football pub.
So we must turn to the The Penny Bank, located on Common Garden Street. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s nice and spacey inside and is usually filled for most matches. That said, there always tends to be a seat and a table free somewhere, and the staggeringly cheap prices of the drinks on tap makes for a perfect place for a few hours.
Winner: The Penny Bank
As mentioned before, the The Penny Bank serves pints for just over £2, and is definitely one of the (if not the) cheapest pubs in Lancaster. Ring O’Bells has decent ales for around £3, but the campus bars are perhaps the place to go. Namely The Herdwick (AKA Grad Bar), which serves quality ales for a similar price.
It’s completely out of sync with the other bars on campus, but that’s all for the better. There’s Erdinger on tap, as well as quite a few ales, including some from Hawkshead, Green Jack and more on rotation. Definitely worth a visit, even if you live in County (or town for that matter).
Winner: Grad Bar
For some, going to the pub consists of drinking 4/5 Carlsbergs, then staggering home slightly pissed. For others, it’s about sampling a varied range of beers over a steady period, then staggering home slightly pissed.
The White Cross has a stellar amount, which should be expected considering its size. That said, The Sun has a similar amount, which should be respected considering its very compact size. Merchants too has a decent range, but a pricey one at that.
The honours for this must go to the The Robert Gillow, despite the unceremoniousness surrounding its takeover and redevelopment. Credit where credit is due, there’s an insane amount of beers, on tap and in bottles. Granted it’s a little expensive, but for a choice of over 50 beers some might argue it’s a price worth paying.
Winner: The Robert Gillow
Traditional pub entertainment consists of a pub quiz, bar sports facilities, and maybe a jukebox. Pendle Witch has indoor and outdoor pool tables, and you can chuck a couple of darts in the The Penny Bank. Board games are on the up in pubs, and can be found in several across the city, and we must mention the old Robert Gillow for its legendary music nights.
The shining beacon of British pub culture are pub quizzes, found at The Study Room (Thursday), The Tap House (Monday) and more, including a free and novel interactive one at Apothecary (Sunday). The White Cross (Tuesday) wins this sub-honour, having a variety of rounds and plenty of prizes. You simply have to go to see what I’m on about.
But the winner of the entertainment category is the Yorkshire House, for three reasons. 1) It has a cheap jukebox, so if you really want to hear that Cardigans song that’s been in your head all day, then the option is there. 2) It has a foosball table for a mere 20p (I believe), something that’s remarkably fun and rare. 3) There’s regular live music upstairs. Plus it’s right next to Sugar. Win win.
Winner: Yorkshire House
To be continued…