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.