Re-branded Lancaster pub taps into craft beer market

Photo Neil Cross'Elle Gilligan and Landlord Tim Tomlinson at the Stonewell Taps, Church St, Lancaster
Photo Neil Cross'Elle Gilligan and Landlord Tim Tomlinson at the Stonewell Taps, Church St, Lancaster

A popular Lancaster pub has been re-launched with a new look and a new name.

The Stonewell Tavern has been re-named the Stonewell Tap to reflect the fact it now has 10 new craft beer taps on the bar, with a further six planned for the near future.

Lancaster landlord Tim Tomlinson, who also runs The White Cross and The Merchants 1688, bought the pub in December and he and his team have been making improvements to the decor and layout over the last three months prior to its relaunch last week.

Tim said: “The Stonewell has been a much loved pub on the Lancaster circuit for many years and when the previous owners, Rohi and Jerry Caterina, decided to sell it we saw it as a great opportunity to update it a little, add some exciting new products to the bar and give it a fresh start.”

He said the first decision was to do something a little bit different to other pubs in the city centre. We knew it would be very difficult to grow the business by competing directly with them,” he said.

“At the same time there has been a real growth in craft beer in Manchester and other northern cities which Lancaster has yet to take full advantage of and we wanted to be part of this exciting area.”

He added: “Craft beer is quite a new thing to many people and we give free tasters of anything on tap to people who want to try. It is amazing how many people who have just popped in for a pint of Amstel will quickly change their order once they try one of the craft beers.”

The pub will take part in the annual Lancaster Beer and Pie Festival between April 26 and 28.

Tim said: “Craft beers offer a whole range of styles and flavours that many people, who don’t usually like traditional ale, often really enjoy.

“Tropical fruit, citrus, coffee and chocolate flavours are found in the rainbow of tastes on offer by British craft brewers.”

The Stonewell has always been a popular music venue and Tim said he plans to continue this.

“We currently offer live music three times a week - Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) with vinyl DJs on Friday nights.

“However being a comfy pub is the first priority and hopefully the changes we are making to the layout and furniture make it much more welcoming.”

He also said he was aware of the sensitivity of changing the name of one of the city’s much loved pubs.

“We thought long and hard about the name of the pub,” he said.

“The pub has been called variously the Stonewell Tavern and Paddy O’Mulligans since the mid 1980s, but for the previous 180 years it was the White Horse. “Stonewell does have historical precedent as the name appears nearby on the first map of Lancaster from 1610 albeit as two words - Stone Well, but since we are now much more of a Craft Beer Tap house than a traditional Tavern we decided to change the name to reflect this.”

The White Cross and Merchants have held their Annual Beer and Pie Festival at the end of April every year since 2006 and the Stonewell Tap will be joining them for the 13th event from the 26th to the 28th of April.

Tim added: “By pure coincidence the Beer and Pie Festival falls on my birthday each year and this year I’ll be turning 50 on the Friday so hopefully there will be lots of customers old and new coming to celebrate it with me.”

There will be a pie eating competition at the White Cross on Saturday at 1pm (three pies and a pint in the fastest time wins a gallon of beer, £10 in, all the money goes to cancer Research UK) plus live music at all three venues on Friday and Saturday.