While it’s fresh in the mind, a report on my valiant attempt to complete Beer Guide Brum today.

A pleasant circular walk from industrial Deritend to the German Christmas Market via the University; what could go wrong ?

Urban walks

I start in BritainBeerMat land, in the industrial estates of Deritend (A), a giant Ian Clarkson hoof over the St Andrews Road terraces. Down by the canal, I spot a ball in the water but it seems to have more in common with the beach ball thrown by Scousers back in 2009.

Digbeth Canal

You’ll know all about the Brum canals having better street art than Venice, and here’s the proof;

What can it mean ?

For a moment I thought it said Ian and was a homage to his role on the first Velvet Underground album. Or graffiti from visiting Man City fans.

“Who’s there ?”

The canal towpath is a little scary at 2pm, rather like the east Manchester canals at 2am, but you quickly come to the shiny new University buildings.

Brum Uni

This is the home of the Eagle & Ball (B),which eagle-eyed readers will remember as the pub where I had a tizzy during the big Brum bash back in October.

Eagle & Ball

Back then it was closed when it should have been open (it closes weekends, if you can believe that).  So I’d done extensive research this time, employing Columbo to determine exactly when if and when it would serve me a drink.

Facebook confirmed it had closed early last week when it was cold (!), but all looked good.  I phoned for good measure, but got through to the University answering machine.

Despite initially trying to enter a fake door, I did eventually gain access.

Door art

There were a couple of students eating nachos, always a good sign in the absence of a mobility scooter at the door.

Nacho crunchers

I went to the bar to see if the beer selection had improved from last time I peered through the window;

Proper choice

Now I know I argue against choice, but NO Doom Bar and Nothing ?  In the week before Christmas.  Real ale only in busy periods and they’re winding down for Christmas, apparently.

It’s key keg folks, if retiredmartin says it is

In situations like this, I treat the pub as “NRA” and go for something tasty.  “Mmmm”, Greene King Key Keg.


I should have had the Bud Light.  This pale, fizzy monstrosity (£1.95 a half) was the most tasteless beer I’ve ever drunk.  Really.

With decent seating, cheery staff and “Don’t Stop Believin’‘” playing, it felt a nice pub, but a travesty of a Beer Guide entry.

Decent seats

I pressed on to the famous Frankfurt Market (C), stopping at Money Shop to buy some US Dollars.  If Simon gets bored of pub life I recommend a tour of Money Shops.


Loads of people carrying 2 litre glasses of something called HB but I don’t reckon was Hofbrau, so I resisted.

I couldn’t resist a £4 bratwurst, though. Not as good as Black Country offal.

Germans do Christmas better than anyone

Birmingham was heaving, and looked better than I’ve ever seen it.


But the walk back along Digbeth onto Deritend High Street remains, thankfully, as gritty as ever, though interspersed with great art, weird autos and a rare Digbeth pub with real ale.

JFK Memorial
What is this ?



Inviting as it looked, I’m going to let Ian investigate the Wagon & Horses










  1. Magnificent post Martin.. although I am slightly biased! Digbeth us the last area of Brum that hasn’t been gentrified but Commonwealth Games should put paid to that! I love deritend/small heath as proper Brummie characters…I believe one of my shots in 90/91 season went further than Eagle and Ball!!! Average pub and so many better it’s laughable…local CAMRA branch not produced magazine for two years so that would suggest not well staffed…town crier in Digbeth better than Eagle and Ball but will check out Waggon and Horses 👍👍

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Do checkout Wagon & Horses, looked fine. It’s possible the Eagle& Ball served up good beer the one time it was visited, of course, but turning off the Doom Bar before Christmas doesn’t make a good advert for Beer Guide pubs. I suspect the Wetherspoons are consistent, but they never get in the Beer Guide these days. Brum looked great today.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was there on Saturday and heaving… eagle and ball should never get in…Blatter style corruption I’m afraid…never been to Waggon so will take it in… meeting. A pal in Yardley tomorrow who hasn’t missed a blues game for 40 years 😵😵 wetherspoons in Yardley better than Eagle and Ball

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I went in the Wagon & Horses a good number of years ago and, as I remember, it was a nice little boozer at the front and they were setting up for live music in the back room.

        It’s about time I revisited al the pubs in Digbeth for my blog as it was 2011 when I last photographed them all – first time was in 1998, so that’s a nice 20 year span to see how it has all changed…and then I can do them all again after the Commonwealth Games to see what effect that’s had.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree – I originally took the pictures in 1998 expecting more changes than there have been with the advent of ‘Eastside’, so next year will be a good point to review the situation.

      I’m hoping to get a picture of the Eagle & Ball to see how it has changed since it was Moby Dick’s back in 1998!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I see Mark managed to post after mine went down the memory hole, so let’s try this again.

    “What can it mean ?”

    My Arabic is (very!) rusty but I think it’s saying ‘I am Haram’, in other words – forbidden. 😏

    As for the old Ford photo, that appears to be a 1972* Ford Ranchero, their version of the Chevy El Camino.


    * – deduced from the K on the license plate 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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