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.

West Brom.PNG

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.





  1. Two degrees? Methinks her thermometer was off (sheesh!).

    The pictures of the two crafty brewers look a bit like my youngest (and yes, he’s a craft brewer – must be a thing with them).

    And £15 for a ticket to see the football. Is that a bit cheap or sort of average? If it’s a normal price that’s something else we differ in. The price for American football in 2016 was anywhere from US $61 to US $132.

    That might explain why we don’t have 7,000 clubs. They keep the number low to keep the prices high. 🙂



    1. £15 is cheap. This was a cup competition where team often rotate squad members. The price for the league fixture would be around £35 to £45, but probably a sell-out. Most seats season ticket holders who pay about £30 a game.


      1. Other big difference in American Football is only having about 10 home games in a regular season as opposed to the 18 – 30 for a top flight football club in England. Although you don’t have the chance of a transatlantic trip for a home game every season (yet).

        Liked by 1 person

    2. There’s detailed breakdown of British football prices for league games across the spectrum here, including details of the all-important pie and tea : Minimum price is about £30 and it’s easy to pay double that or more.

      Prices tend to be a bit cheaper on the Continent, particularly in Germany where it also helps that they still have terraces for standing (which were banned in the UK after Hillsborough). So for instance, Man Utd have a cheapest seat of £36 whereas Bayern Munich have seats for €35 and standing for €15 – and they’re expensive for Germany.

      The kebabs look good.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The kebabs are great. Germany season ticket prices are astonishing, but then Germany as a whole is stunningly cheap or food and beer (though perhaps not Octoberfest).

        The real problem with football isn’t the Premiership, where I pay £31 a match (and there are randomly allocated season ticket seats at City for German prices), it’s the rest of League. You can pay £25 to sit and watch some rubbish in Leagues 1 and 2.


      2. Gets a bit less attractive when the euro dips towards parity, conversely it all gets a lot more cheerful at €1.40/£.

        I am reminded of the saying about the cuisine of Alsace – it’s German food made by people who care about what they eat….

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I would want my beer to be served in tip-top condition in a pub I owned/had an interest in, not served in a way indistinguishable from every other pale beer. Far too many beers on. Shame, as I liked the pub.


  2. I often view you as a martyr Martin, some of the pubs you have to visit look absolutely dire. I shudder sometimes at the thought of you sat in a cold empty pub drinking warm ale! But what a gem you have visited here. Top quality ale and look at the kebabs! It doesn’t get better than that, the Black Country is obviously starting to grey a little?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That actually wasn’t a bad pub, it just suffered (even on match day) from too little turnover across too many pumps. Bet local branch overjoyed at a collaboration between trad brewers Sadlers and cutting edge Two Crafty Brewers in an ancient pub, but no good if near empty.


    2. But if they’re in the GBG they shouldn’t be absolutely dire or anything like it. Maybe caught at an off time, or not to everyone’s taste, but you should be able to recognise something good about them.

      Having said that, there is a strong tendency in many branches to give an excess of marks for effort.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Only jesting mate. However a pub that has no one in is dire, to me. half a dozen is more than acceptable on a weekday lunchtime, but no one in is not.

        In terms of GBG selection the term, kids in a sweet shop, appears to be in operation in a lot of places.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. ” Kids in a sweet shop” is spot-on. Feel the same about the Black Country Ales places increasingly – 10 cask + ciders ++. No way you’re turning those over in 3 days. Only a handful of pubs can.


      3. I am always impressed with the Northumbrian GBG pubs (when they are open!) Tyneside & Northumbria CAMRA have a proper process to choose theirs, which involves a coach and three full days visiting each of the nominated Northumbrian pubs before voting (Canny Brew #239).

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s a great approach, obviously that’s a smaller task than visiting all West Yorks pubs in a short period, though takes some dedication.

        Mudgie’s branch makes a real effort to visit all branch pubs over a rolling period and scores the beers in them all.


      5. W. Yorks is many branches in reality; Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Calderdale, Keighley & Craven, Heavy Woollen, Huddersfield, I’ve probably missed someone too? All we do in Leeds is nominations and a vote, although I believe all our GBG entires are worthy, they do represent the demography of where ‘active’ members live and resort.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. We do, although sadly many seem to see it as a chore and find anything beyond a pub crawl from Crown to Hope via Magnet too much like hard work. Only five people along on last Friday’s admittedly not very exciting pub crawl, amongst whom I was the youngest.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I never find pub crawling a chore.
    When i did the Sow & Pigs on the 10th June 1988 it was an Hansons tied house with a few different rooms,the Hansons Mild went down a treat.
    I went in The Ye Olde Wine Shoppe with my wife and brother on the 5th April 1986 before a Forest game at the Hawthorns,it was a keg Courage house,that had the roughest landlord i have ever seen,he was a complete nutcase,the pub was fairly busy and was pacing up and down behind the bar cracking his knuckles saying who wants some.
    Everybody in the room was pretty worried, we kept our heads down and finished our drinks pretty quickly and left for another more friendly pub.


  4. When did Sadlers move to Walsall then? I thought they were run by a Chinese bloke somewhere between Halesowen and Stourbridge.

    Yow Min Li……………..

    Liked by 1 person

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