You know how it is, we wait months for a sunny day then two come along on consecutive days.
Everyone rushes out to take in the Vitamin D.
‘This is it’ they cry.
‘Summer is finally here!’
You rush out to buy a new summer wardrobe, you debate buying a gas barbecue. You debate building an outside wood burning pizza oven.
Then suddenly, as quickly as it arrived our ‘Summer’ is over and we are once more flung back into the overcast existence of typically British weather.
The point is at the moment we should seize the sunny days as they occur. With this in mind here are my top five Birmingham beer gardens ahead of this weekend’s May Bank Holiday.
- The Lord Clifden, 34 Great Hampton Street
I wasn’t sure about this place in the Jewellery Quarter until recently. With its abundant collection of modern art (including a Banksy no less!), too-cool-for-school clientele such as Damian Hirst and Observer Food Award, I thought it would be trendy to the point of alienation. I’m half expecting Proudlock and Phoebe from Made In Chelsea to make a special Shoreditch-lite pilgrimage at some point.
But it turns out this beer garden is held in good regard by locals for a reason. Lots of seating space, a ping pong table, a constantly repainted/ graffiti-clad/ muralised post box and its own beer make for a decent afternoon.
Apparently the garden has just had a makeover and if you want to want to check it out then you’re just in time for one of their Kitchen Disco parties this weekend on Sunday 26th. Entrance is free and from 2pm sounds and BBQ smells will be emanating from the garden. Roasts will also be on until 9pm too.
The good news is that there will be music events in the garden all summer providing a good opportunity to take a chance on this local institution.
- The Figure of Eight, Broad Street
Now, now – we mustn’t get snotty about this being a Witherspoon place. For all the branding, they do at least keep pubs running that would have gone under as indies.
I have included this on the list because it does have the biggest beer garden in the city centre and a rather nice one at that. It was right around the corner from where I used to live. The drinks and food were cheap, there were never any fights, it was well-lit in the evenings and it was just an easy-going place to hang out which is all you can ask from a beer garden. Enjoy.
- Jekyll & Hyde, Steelhouse Lane
As regular readers will know, this is one of my favorite bars in the city. It has a tiny beer (or should that be gin) garden out back with twinkly lights and Lewis Carroll murals. It gets crowded so best for an early drinking session (but that just means it can be first stop on your bar crawl).
This bank holiday it will unusually be open on Sunday (26th) but not Monday and there will be lots of Blues/ Motown/ Loft music all weekend (here’s a handy link to what’s occurring on which night).
They also have what I consider to be the BEST BANK HOLIDAY DEAL – £4 cocktails have been extended to all day and night on Saturday and all night on Sunday so a good opportunity to grab a whole bunch of the best gin & tonics in town!
- The Prince of Wales, 118 Alcester |Road, Moseley
When it’s a bonafide sunny afternoon in Brum, I like to go to the epicenter of pub garden awesomeness and that means Moseley Village. Just a 15 minute hop on the No. 1 bus from Town Hall or Broad Street and you are transported to Birmingham’s liveliest suburb.
The Prince should be on the list of best pub gardens in Britain, never mind Brum. For it is not just somewhere to take your pint and sit, it is a veritable beer garden complex not unlike the beer gardens in Munich’s English Gardens yet this is way more British in its eccentricity.
Not only is there a ridiculously huge amount of seating but you are covered in the event of a downpour, you are heated in the event of a strong breeze and you are table-served in the event of sheer laziness.
I know, brilliant, right? Well it doesn’t stop there. Within the garden is a wine bar (Shed du Vin), a cigar bar and a Tiki cocktail bar. All this and a stage for the inevitable folk band performances (well, it is Moseley). There is a definite party atmosphere here which is really infectious – I dare you to come here and not have a good time. No really, I have some great dares lined up. Bring it!
- The Fighting Cocks, 1 Saint Mary’s Row, Moseley
A mere 2 minute stroll down the street from the Prince is this Mitchell’s & Butler’s owned (though you wouldn’t guess it) city boozer with another A1 beer garden in the rear. I told you – Moseley does this sort of thing better than most places.
You remember at school when there was an annual Parents’ Committee barbecue and it was held at the farm of one of your friend’s dads? No? Just me then. Well, this beer garden reminds me of those kind of barbecues.
So many nooks and crannies to hide out in this place. I once took shelter on a leather couch in a barn here! There are the obligatory fairy lights, the music, the occasional hog roast. Like The Prince it is a really great place to while away the evening. And people mingle good-naturedly, a bit like parents at a barbecue.
And a special mention goes to…
- The sun terrace at the top of The Cube
Although I’ve heard mixed reviews of the Marco Pierre White restaurant attached, the terrace is pretty stunning. I’ve only been there at night and was not so impressed by the cocktails (or some of the clientele) but my old hairdresser told me that she and her colleagues would retire there during sunny lunch hours to have a beer and sit outside.
Thinking outside the box, it could be worth a go.
Happy bank holiday folks, have a good time and maybe I’ll see you at one of the above 🙂 .