I appreciate I’ve kept you waiting more than a week for a match report on West Brom v Man City. Apologies for that, but City won.
A new hero in Sane, and a new entry in the Guide for West Brom, but it’s not The Bromwic that I predicted last April.
Instead, flying a lonely flag for craft, is the Sow & Pigs. Look how crafty it is.
A collaboration, it says, between Sadlers of shiny Walsall fame, and Two Crafty Brewers, of Dudley fame.
It’s an odd adaption of Brom’s oldest pub, and an almost perfect realisation of my vision for the Bromwic, with the hipster stencils, beer barrel toilets, and TV football making an oddly compelling mix. Bostin’ Black Country service, too.
Other signs of the Sow & Pig’s craft credentials are the Doom Bar and Banks’s Mild handpumps, but in the interest of supporting the local brew I went for a frothy house pale.
Served too warm for my taste, I couldn’t finish it and left it on the bar.
“Is there something wrong with that ?” asked the barmaid, politely.
“It wasn’t quite to my taste, a bit warm ?”
Out came the thermometer.
“Two degrees. That’s what it should be.”
“Two degrees ?”
“Two degrees. Same as this morning”
I realised I was out of my depth and slipped out quickly, pausing only to be scared by the lifelike doll shop.
Cool beer is readily available in West Brom High Street, and for a while I considered venturing outside my comfort zone pre-match.
Next time, Ye Olde Wine Shoppe, next time.
You never know when your next trip to The Vine might be. It’s the one on Roebuck Lane, just off the M5, in the bottom right hand corner of the What Pub extract. Go now.
With 3 hours to kick-off the Vine was packed with a good 200 City and WBA fans mingling happily around the indoor barbecue and the vast outside area, gorging on tikka and shish kebabs of legendary quality and value.
This really is one of the best pubs for away fans in the country, and it’s in a bit of a real ale desert.
It’s also one of the Beer Guide’s few one-beer pubs, and always has been. You get two variants on the Holden’s clip, and their lovely homemade one.
It’s a gorgeous beer; here at its very best I rated it NBSS 4.5 and stayed for another, demanding it came from the second pump, of course. It wasn’t 2 degrees, mind you.
With an hour or so to kill I had a nosey round the backstreets of Smethwick south of the Hawthorns. Alan will have been in the Waggon & Horses; I’ll let him describe it for you.
But what’s the traditional Black Country fayre at the ground like, you ask ? Er,
At least you can enjoy your Carling cider listening to an old bloke singing Two-Tone classics (including Ghost Town !) over a backing tape. Look at that little fella/girl dancing to “Lip Up Fatty“.
But Carling can’t detract from the joy of a Carabao Cup match played under floodlights.
I resisted the Balti pies, but gave in to the other delicacy on offer to away fans.