My second (slightly more productive) thought was ‘If I had to visit twelve pubs in Birmingham and drink a pint in each before a robotic apocalypse, which ones would I choose?’
So I made my list, and in the event of said robotic apocalypse, I’m all sorted. Would these pubs make your list? If not, which ones would?
1 The Pub: The Hare and Hounds, High Street, Kings Heath, The Drink: Purity’s Ubu Why? The Hare and Hounds is always a hive of activity, usually involving some live music, and this coupled with Purity brewery’s presence at the Moseley Folk/ Jazz Festivals make this combination a no-brainer.
2 The Pub: The Prince of Wales, Alcester Road, Moseley The Drink: Oakham’s Bishop’s Farewell Why? If J.R.R. Tolkien likes a pub, there’s good drinking to be had. Although I’ve blogged on its epic beer garden before, The Prince is first and foremost a drinker’s pub. The front is a model Victorian boozer almost puritan in its restraint, while the back is just drinking-Disneyland. I chose Bishop’s Farewell purely because I thought the name would be apposite (damn those evil-natured robots –damn them all to hell!) But I have confidence in the beers on tap at this place, which I certainly can’t say about all the pubs I’ve visited over the years.
3 The Pub: The Anchor, Bradford Street, Digbeth The Drink: Hobson’s Mild Why? By now my dad would be complaining that he was missing out on a mild (although he’s been missing a particular mild – Ansell’s – for many years now). I don’t know why more pubs don’t keep one on draught permanently, so kudos to The Anchor for making sure they do. A four-time winner of CAMRA’s Local Pub of the Year Award, they really put in the effort to support smaller breweries. Let’s hope the robotic apocalypse doesn’t occur before Digbeth gets further in its regeneration because The Anchor deserves to be visited, and often.
4 The Pub: The Old Contemptibles, Edmund Street The Drink: cloudy cider Why? Although it’s owned by Nicholson’s (which some drinkers object to but in these straightened times it’s hard for free-houses to keep afloat) there is always a decent selection of cask ales, regular festivals and during the summer, usually a fab selection of ciders that transport you out of the city centre and into a fantasy Somerset farm, preferably under an apple tree. Also, I’d be getting hungry by now and it’s always good to eat a pie with a massive lamb shank sticking out of the top!
5 The Pub: The Jekyll and Hyde, Steelhouse Lane The Drink: Hendricks Gin and Tonic Why? Although I’ve had great times washing down Bathtub Gin, Lovehearts cocktails and a mixture of Gin, jam and lemon juice served from a teapot in the upstairs Gin Parlour, this is the end, folks. Time to go back to basics. J&H boast that they treat gin like whisky, i.e. there’s one to suit almost every palette. Well for me, it’s got to be Hendricks and Fentiman’s with a lime (or maybe cucumber, no, definitely lime). I hope they have that DJ there that plays all the MoTown stuff.
6 The Pub: The Rose Villa Tavern, Warstone Lane, Hockley The Drink: Gwynt Y Draig Happy Daze Cider Why? I’m not really a fan of Hoxley/ Jewellery Quarter pubs on the whole. They are not what you’d call down to earth. And drinking should be an easy-going, enjoyable process, not dependent on dodging queue-cutting morons who pretend to wear glasses, eyeing up someone’s thrift-shop purchase quota, or enduring extra-loud house music when I want to conduct a conversation. It’s not really the pubs’ fault (apart from the music volume); it’s more that the clientele can be tricky. But they seem to like it that way and each to their own. But tonight I’m making a couple of exceptions; the Rose Villa Tavern has always been a little different, more tranquil, and I’ve gone for the Welsh cider on tap at last month’s Cider Fest (to appease Dad again, Welsh as he is).
7 The Pub: The Black Eagle, Factory Road, Hockley The Drink: Ansell’s Mild Why? I just said I wasn’t a fan of Hockley boozers so why am I back here? Well, for one thing I have never been to this pub, but tonight there’s a first (and last) time for everything. It has brilliant reviews and is a multi-award winning CAMRA favourite. Do you remember the advert for Fry’s Turkish Delight back in the day? This One with the Rudolph Valentino lookalike? Well that’s only the landlord! I know – it’s blowing my mind! But best of all it keeps Ansell’s Mild on tap – the mild of my Dad’s dreams. Having found out about this place, I’m going to take him this weekend! He’s old, so why wait?
8 The Pub: The White Horse, York Street, Harborne The Drink: Hanson’s Porter Why? There is plenty of healthy competition among Harborne’s pubs. The Plough won CAMRA’s Rising Star award in 2010 though some locals on well known beer forums accuse it of being a wee bit too expensive on the beer front, as the hub of Harborne’s gentrification. I’ll bow to popular opinion on this one. The White Horse has ten real ales on tap, a beer board just like my final pub choice (plenty more pints to sink yet though) and friendly, slightly incontinent spaniels (obviously we connect on a number of levels).
9 The Pub: The Tap and Spile, Gas Street The Drink: Doom Bar Why? This was our local for a couple of years, it’s nothing special, but it stays open later than pretty much everywhere else in town, always has Doom bar and Greene King on tap and descends into a reliably cheesy karaoke session during which everyone at the bar imagines themselves to be Freddie Mercury, Steve Perry or Dave Lee Roth. Fun Fact: The husband almost got into a punch-up here with a 6 ft 4’’ Glaswegian who didn’t like more than one person in the pub to wear a hat. My husband wore one, guess who wore the other?
10 The Pub: The Victoria, John Bright Street The Drink: Brooklyn Lager on draught Why? I’m hoping the world ends on a week night because by Friday night this place is rammed. Also I don’t want to be on the side of the bar with the sticky carpet. And, the barman here looks like my husband’s good friend (and epic drinking companion) Terry, which is comforting.
11 The Pub: The Post Office Vaults, New Street The Drink: Chimay White Why? By this point in proceedings I really don’t care anymore so let’s up the alcohol content with some of the hoppy Belgian white stuff. I’m so pleased the POV has been a success story, it’s always rammed in the evenings, has over 300 foreign beers available now (including the decadent Deus Brut des Flandres which I would have bought if I hadn’t just spent all my cash at the previous ten pubs) and my dad can even have a third pint of mild! Not bad for the little cellar that could.
12 The Pub: The Wellington, Bennett’s Hill The Drink: Whatever you’re selling the most of today, good sir Why? This is the granddaddy of Brum’s CAMRA pubs, a World’s End if ever there was one*. The adult equivalent of a sweetie store, each pump glistens with promise of flavours yet to come. Again, it gets absolutely rammed on weekends but that’s not when I’ve had my best times here. There have been cosy chats, loud impassioned debates on international policy (oops, that kind of broke the rules on polite pub conversations and almost got some of us chucked out), sightings of Neil Morrissey (in the back alleyway, puffing on a ciggie), a thirty second heart to heart with a barmaid about my late mother, and epic, epic all-day sessions here when I was a student. Always loved that you can bring in food and eat it here (they even supply the cutlery); the scene of many a guilty MacDonald’s meal and Christmas Market bratwurst. But this place has made me happy (and a bit dizzy), so I’d have my last drink here.
*There is. In Camden. Went there last week. But they were accepting cash only. Boooo.