I do hope that’s not a euphemism. If there is one, Curry Charles will find it.

More to the point, should there be an umlaut in Brum ?

Just like that, I’m up to yesterday (Monday 16th) with the blog. And it’s the Birmingham German Christmas Market, second only on Trip Advisor to rough backstreet pubs in Digbeth Bordesley amongst Brum’s attractions.


Authentic. You could almost think you were in England’s second city.

I wasn’t actually there for the Frankfurt market, of course, I just like being on packed trains.

But it’s hard to avoid the stalls once you’ve finally escaped from “new” New Street station, and sometimes it’s best to give in.

I’d actually asked Quosh to recommend me a Carribean café in Lozells, but reading about Mrs McColdrick from Yardley’s naked bratwurst sealed the deal.

Not Mrs McColdrick, in case you’re wondering

This is from the big stall outside the Town Hall, called something like Ye Olde German Sausage Co.

Yes those are onions.

It would have been worth a fiver (NBratSS 3.5) if I hadn’t dropped half of it down my fleece, mustard, ketchup and all. At least 37p worth of red sausage rolled under the loudspeaker. “Can’t take you anywhere” says Mrs RM.

Enjoy the traditional German carols by pressing Play below.

I love Germany. Shame this isn’t anything like a German market. I’m sure I saw Blackpool rock on one of the stalls.

But I’ll say this. Birmingham looks a picture these days.

Germanic looking Brum

Onto the main business, and I’ll bet some German visitors say the GBG entries don’t look very much like English pubs.

Pint Shop and Head of Steam are chain pubs of varying size.

The Pint Shop Brum joins a successful one in Cambridge and a failure in Oxford, which I reckon says something of Oxon pockets. Oxford has a Sam Smiths, you know.

Back entrance
Front entrance

Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted they have the Wellington as a neighbour. How do you compete with that ?


You don’t.

How much

You focus on shiny kegs and posh food and fill your boots with office workers,if you see what I mean.

Impressive building, impressive staff, impressive cask choice by me.


Clearly there are still folk who can get to 23 without ever successfully using a pub, and here they were, standing at the bar instead of finding a seat.

The Old has drifted from 3.5 to a competent 3 by now

Too busy to be cosy but at least I got a seat, a rarity in Cambridge.

By the by, it’s a long way to the top of the stairs so if you need the loo, go twice while you’re there.



  1. Heh. I visited Pint Shop back in August, after the Home of Metal Black Sabbath exhibition at the art gallery, and quite liked it. but suspect it could get a bit full of hipsters at times. Brave of you to go at Christmas market time!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You remind me why I get to Manchester, to Liverpool and to London much more than I get to Birmingham.
    But is Adnams Old Ale now replacing M&B Mild ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know how regularly available Old is these days. Didn’t see Tally Ho at all this year.

      Odd thing about Birmingham is that though the centre is now full of modern pubs, Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter had far more Proper Pubs than I expected to be left.


  3. It nearly killed me the first time I needed to climb all those stairs! Ate there once and the food was very good…just that my butterfly chicken took an age to arrive (not surprising as it was the size of a turkey breast!)

    Stafford Mudgie is right (I hate to admit!) that there are better places than Brum for proper pubs, but Brum is still so much better than it was not so many years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I should perhaps have explained that I’ve got nothing against Birmingham as a whole – and I hope to return to Digbeth’s best pubs next year – but it’s just the city centre I don’t think much of.
      Get to New Street and it’s which pubs can I go to but to Lime Street or Piccadilly and it’s which pubs won’t I have time for ?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. On the contrary…I actually agree with you and understand your point perfectly!

        Brum was left so far behind in the days when 99% of the pubs were either Ansell’s or M&B that it is still playing catch-up. That and the city’s habit of knocking things down after about 40 years…a lot of interesting pubs bit the dust! Only Digbeth near the city centre seems to change organically, but the bulldozers and developers creep ever closer…the Eagle & Tun being the next victim!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Pete,
        Yes indeed, Ansell’s and M&B – or maybe Allied and Bass Charrington – have a lot to answer for.
        So far this year, within six miles of the centre, for me it’s been ;
        Manchester – 34 pubs, 63 pints
        London – 25 pubs, 36 pints
        Liverpool – 22 pubs, 33½ pints
        Birmingham – 3 pubs, 5½ pints


    2. I’ve complete sympathy with you, Pete. It was like climbing the stairs at one of the very deep underground stations.

      I’m quite defensive about Brum these days. Our pub days out were great and (as your photography shows) the centre is a wonderful sight.

      And you know when I say it I mean it 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. 30 yrs ago, when I began to take an interest, real ale in central B’ham meant Atkinson’s Bar at the Midland Hotel, and that was about it. If you wanted somewhere quieter there was Highgate Mild at the Old Contemptibles and Pedigree at the Wellington.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Martin, well done on surviving the German market – I’m trying to figure out if your sausage was naked or not, as I’m not sure on the McColdrick scale whether onions count as clothing (unless you had some sauce in there somewhere). I quite like Pint Shop, stairs permitted, and it’s settled in nicely next to the Welly – that back alley with the barrels has a certain atmosphere too. Brum continues to attract new establishments so I wonder if you’ll be requiring the Good Intent or the Colmore as new GBG ticks in future years? Cheers, Paul


  6. I had never heard of the German Christmas markets until my friend from Macclesfield took me to the one in Manchester a number of years ago. Interesting that this is one of the big examples of German tradition expanding beyond Germany’s borders, but it never has taken hold here in the States as far as I know. I wonder if in England the tradition was temporarily suspended during and just after WWII, when people weren’t feeling so fond about Germany!

    Having been to one, I definitely see the appeal: you feel that you’re taking part in a tradition that stretches back centuries.


    1. I think the markets started after the war, linked to the tradition of twinning (Birmingham with Frankfurt)

      Having said the bratwurst was decent enough, I don’t think the big city markets that last weeks are that authentic. You’ll find better in continental markets that only last a few days. Southport is a cracker.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That short video reminds me of ‘Name That Tune’ – not a quiz show I loved in my younger years, but one which is still indelibly burnt on my memory (parents must have liked it ;)).

    Go on I’ll have a guess though – was it Jingle Bells by Herr Shakin’ Stevens…?

    Liked by 1 person

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