Three days off pruning hedges and feeding teenagers, then off to Brum on World Cup Semi-Final Day. I won’t tell you how many England won by, just in case you still haven’t watched it on I-Player.

The journey took 2 hrs 20, compared to the 90 minute stroll to St Andrews before the A14 improvements started. Grrrr.  

The road to hell (Girton to Brampton)

I’d booked a room at BLOC in the Jewellery Quarter, but left my car overnight (just £2, coincidentally the approximate value of my Aygo) in a very safe looking area of south Digbeth, parked next to the street art and those strange empty cartridges carpeting the floor. What could possibly go wrong ?

What are those things on the floor ?  Bullets ?

This crawl was, essentially, a huge waste of my time with no new GBG ticks.  But great company from the assorted curmudgeons of the Beer and Pubs Forum, and the promise of an appearance from Cooking Lager meant I couldn’t miss it.


And I’d never really done Digbeth, dipping into the odd new entry every few years and admiring the way the industrial buildings manage to avoid gentrification. Besides, I might get another chance to be irritated by the pub that provided this highlight on my last visit at Christmas…

Eagle & Ball, not a highlight

And I might even find a shrine to Life After Football.

Since some of you like looking at pictures of pubs, here’s a few from my meander to the Woodman.

British Oak
Lamp – one we missed
Anchor – we’ll be back

I had the itinerary (Version 41a) saved to my phone,


and you’ll know how vital it is to stick to itineraries on informal days out like this. So I was overjoyed to get to the Woodman while the assorted Mudgies*, Mudges, Hatters, Jons and Petes were still arguing about Guns’n’Roses v Stone Roses or something (everyone knows Rose Royce are the best rose).

Proper seating
Unimpressed at excessive beer range

Oh, look. Lots of shiny handpumps.


This was a Brum highlight at the turn of the century, fell back a bit, and again looks decent under the care of the Post Office Tavern folk.

Multi-roomed, lived-in, gorgeous wood, proper seating; but far too many handpumps (of course), and some mixed views on the beer.


Not for the first time on the crawl, I got the best of the beer (Fownes, NBSS 3.5), but despite a soundtrack stuck in the ’70s, we didn’t overstay a muted welcome.

Itineraries are there for a reason. We had Ansells windows to explore.


*See Pub Curmudgeon’s far more succinct review here.


26 thoughts on “DIGBETH ’18 – IT BEGINS

  1. Fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The British Oak in Stirchley? Never ventured that far? I reckon that pub ansells window is from the Eagle and tun? You should have gone to the Lamp Tavern…it’s worth it for Eddie the gaffer alone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually that’s the British Oak in what appears to be called the Gay Village in south Digbeth. Very keg. The Ansells is Eagle & Tun, full marks.

      I’ve only been to the Lamp once, years ago, and we didn’t include it in the Digbeth crawl as off the map. Must revisit.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Free pork pie slices last time I visited, not sure about the beer quality, but a proper boozer. Probably sells more guinness than anything else going by what I could see.


      2. When supping between 2.30 and 5pm was first legalised I spent an afternoon just before Christmas that year in that British Oak, just off Bristol Street, playing three card brag and knocking back pints of Burton brewed Ansells Mild, not a patch on the Aston Cross version but not a bad attempt at replication, I’d earlier been in the old back bar of the Midland Hotel, Stephenson Place, enjoying several pints of Holden’s Mild, very rare for Brum in those days, I probably consumed a couple of baltis during that day too, but my memory is a tad hazy.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Spot on! The Woodman exceed expectations from the perspective of pub interior conservation, and the quality of beer was adequate for opening time. I’ll definitely go back.


  3. “So I was overjoyed to get to the Woodman while the assorted Mudgies*, Mudges” –Wait a minute, just how many pub enthusiasts are there whose name contains the word ‘Mudge’? I’m getting confused!


  4. Yes, the welcome in the Woodman was a bit muted compared with the other pubs. Maybe he didn’t expect a crowd of topers descending on his pub at opening time.

    It was 80s Stone Roses and (I think) noughties Guns’n’Roses – didn’t touch the 70s. Rose Tattoo are good too 🎸

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve thrown my notes away now, but I’m pretty sure they were also playing Maria by Blondie, which is 1990s. The soundtrack in the Eagle & Tun, with Carry On Wayward Son, More Than A Feeling and Sultans Of Swing was definitely 70s, in a good way 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s probably what I’m thinking of, and your memory is holding up better than mine. One of the downsides about good company on these crawls is that you take very few notes, and photos only go so far !


  5. The Woodman is a lovely place. The cartridges, in case you don’t know are either:

    a) Cyclists having a lot of punctures and using a CO2 inflator,


    b) NOS-heads using so called “hippy crack”. Suspect the latter 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was disappointed I couldn’t go … reading about it then maybe not. I’ve spent a bit of time in Birmingham and it’s never really done it for me. It might be our second largest city but it’s nowhere near being our second city.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t let a disparaging comment about Birmingham go by unchallenged…so here goes. In fact, I’ll just give you a quote from Jonathan Meades which, I think, sums up Birmingham and Brummies perfectly – “Birmingham is a city that feels very sure of itself. It has a collective sense of humour that is self-deprecating, unboastful and ironic, perhaps why it is no good at promoting itself.”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Pete,
        Yes, Birmingham knows what it is.
        Although further I’ve always got to Manchester more often than Birmingham but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with Brum, except the M&B – Ansells duopoly, but that’s gone, and the roads.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “a muted welcome” sums up the Woodman but I think got better in all the other Birmingham pubs.
        No bargains though !

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Nitrous oxide – it’s one of the many things young people do instead of drinking beer. In ten years’ time they’ll be complaining that it’s not as good as it used to be and compiling lists of where you can still find the proper stuff.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. “and the promise of an appearance from Cooking Lager meant I couldn’t miss it.”

    Totally understand. 😉

    “(everyone knows Rose Royce are the best rose).”

    Maybe over there. Over here it’s my wife Rose. 😎

    “Unimpressed at excessive beer range”

    Nice hat though. 😉

    “Oh, look. Lots of shiny handpumps.”


    “Not for the first time on the crawl, I got the best of the beer”

    Do you hang back when ordering as part of your tactic?


    Liked by 1 person

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