Beginning my appreciation of Birmingham in the early ’90s with trips to St Andrews, Villa Park, and the old Bullring wasn’t a good idea; though the Balti houses always were. Over 25 or so years I’ve grown to love the Regency and modern architecture, the gigs at the Hare & Hounds, the IKON Gallery, and many more curries. The Creation Skatepark is a cracker too, says my teenage son.
The pubs have always been the weak spot. Brum never seemed to have the boisterous but homely boozers of the Black Country, outside of a handful around the Jewellery Quarter (Red Lion) and Bradford Street (Anchor & White Swan). The central pubs were all opened out places, full of suits, and with average quality national beers.
The Wellington filled a massive gap when it opened a decade ago, but it took a long time to be joined by the Post Office Vaults in providing some real quality inside the Queensway. I’m a Brewdog fan-dad, but they’re not universally loved for some reason.
Well the centre now has wonderful (to my eyes) architecture in the Bullring, Mailbox, Library and New Street Station, and even with the massive building site that is Paradise, the city is a great place to wander now, with lots of colour and new sights. On the way to the Pure Bar I stumbled across the most gorgeously green and gold tiling below.
I’d been to the Craven Arms many years ago, but don’t remember this at all. Black Country Inns have another gem that looked to have a tempting beer range I’ll come back to on my next visit.
I was equally surprised by Bacchus, a Nicholsons pub new to the Beer Guide and with above average Purity Ubu (NBSS 3); mainly surprised that I hadn’t heard of such an extravagantly decorated pub before. This was heaving just before 5pm, with no free seats except posing tables. At least they didn’t force a handled glass on me like they did in the Old Contemptibles.
Nothing surprising stylistically about Purity’s Bar close to the Christmas Markets and the Wellington. Pure is what you’d expect from a modern brewer combining a flagship for it’s own beers with craft taps. Office workers (they finish work early here), vertical drinking, all the usual modern touches. But I like it a lot, and the Saddleback was great (NBSS 3.5), if priced a bit steep. Nice glasses, too.
I didn’t, but you could visit Pure, the Post Office and finally the Wellington and have a great night, but I would fill up at that Bratwurst stall in the Christmas market first.