My regular catch-up with ex-colleagues over curry moved from Kinver to Wolverhampton, and again proved that Auditors are human beings.
Wolverhampton is a tricky place to tie down. One the one hand it has The Great Western and a great Art Gallery, on the other it has less great architecture and pubs than you might expect for a large city.
The stroll from our excellent small hotel (Barons Court) in Penn goes through some modest industrial estates that aren’t as exciting/scary as, say, Digbeth or Kelham Island. The central area is spick and span, and nicely pedestrianised, but a bit lacking in surprise. It was also very quiet.
The surprises came in the two newest pubs, with the Dog and Doublet very close to pub of the year so far.
Located in student central, and with opening hours and live music appealing to that market, it was nevertheless a comfortable local at 7pm, though the Chesterfields below weren’t the only seating option. A proper fire too.
What stood out here were the exemplary welcome, the beer range, and most importantly the quality of the Bathams (NBSS 4). Whatever my views on the merits of multi-pump pubs, that is an enticing Midlands based line-up.
So Bathams wasn’t the obvious choice, but it was a good as the best options in Kinver or Stourbridge, and merited a second pint. We almost stayed to take up the barman’s recommendations of imported bottles (Flying Dog well represented).
The pub is undergoing a makeover at the moment (it’s two years old), and we discussed the merits of urinals at some length. The second picture is the option being explored. When your competition includes a pub with a tree in the Gents, you need to keep ahead.
Our second newbie was a real surprise. Slaters have opened a craft bar with minimalist stylings, contrasting sharply with the rural Staffordshire pubs where their beers normally appear. It’s so new (a week old) I can find nothing about it on WhatPub or wherever.
Following the usual taps on the wall formula, it seems aimed squarely at the student market, though that wasn’t what was keeping it quite busy now.
It was OK. The Slaters cask (one of us had Top Totty and it wasn’t me) was OK too (NBSS 3), while the Left Handed Giant was a decent temperature. I can see this heaving before Wolves games, and in the absence of a BrewDog it will probably find an audience.
Best seating was in the Jivans Balti providing a compelling reason to revisit a city that grew in me, even without the grey paes and Holdens in the Great Western. I’ve never seen a place look less like an Indian restaurant.
12 thoughts on “WOLVERHAMPTON – GREY PAES, BRIGHTER DAYS”
I have to say on recent visits to Wolverhampton the city centre has seemed distinctly tatty as well as being surprisingly quiet. The Mander and Wulfrun centres must be some of the grottiest shopping malls in the centre of any major town or city. I believe there were plans for another big redevelopment to the south that fell through.
Good to see some signs of life on the pub scene, though, as you report, and obviously the Great Western makes up for a lot!
Yes – the malls aren’t good but then I don’t like indoor centres. Not much call for further redevelopment after investment in Merry Hill and New Street. Lack of independent shops is striking.
Slater’s Bar certainly offers something different to the ale scene in Wolverhampton, although it will be interesting to see how the combination of cask and craft keg goes long-term (especially given the keg prices). It makes for a tempting double act with the Lych Gate Tavern, the two pubs being almost back to back in terms of location. The Lych Gate is a place I rate highly for beer quality and internal character (especially the upstairs function room) but I am rather a fan of the Black Country Ales approach anyway.
Good point on Slaters. I thought craft keg range interesting. Cask quality might suffer with so much choice in a small venue.
I’m a fan of Black Country too. A few of their places seemed less busy (and less good than others), Dudley being one. Lych Gate was good. All adds up to more choice in Wolves.
It just shows how much can change in quite a short while.
The Dog and Doublet was my biggest disappointment on our Proper Day Out sixteen months ago.
And Slaters Bar didn’t last long – plenty of competition around there now, an expensive site and sadly not many more customers than staff on the few times I went there.
Yes, Charles and I did pop back a year later and it wasn’t as good as on that first visit. No Bathams either.
The Hogs Head has improved a lot and appeals to a similar crowd.
Yes, the Hogshead is Stonegate so 50p vouchers used there soon instead of in Tim’s Moon Under Water.
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The Dog and Doublet never knew what it really wanted to be. It had ale but it wasn’t well kept and so was often disappointing. I don’t think the indie kids left over from blast off drank much of it.
It was a shame to see Slaters go, I expected that to be there for a while. It’s replacement is nice (a Parisian theme) and had a couple of ales on when I visited.
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I think that’s right, Neil.