There is something in the air, murmurs, whispers…it’s spoken with hushed but hopeful tones. It has nothing to do with Phil Collins, or a big hairy gorilla playing a drum kit (although I have been mistaken for a Gorilla at times). It has everything to do with beer. The Birmingham Craft Beer scene is growing and it is rather exciting.
Over the last few years nearly all my holidays and day trips with my beautiful wife have been focused on beer related activities. With the increased interest in craft beer, and as people begin to seek out better beer and places that sell them, beer has become a valid tourist attraction. Examples of this include the Bermondsey Beer Mile in London and the Piccadilly Beer Mile in Manchester. Our own beer destination of choice has become Leeds, with its fantastic array of bars including North Bar, Friends of Ham and Tapped Leeds. Each time we have visited Leeds my wife and I have asked ourselves the same question: ‘Why isn’t Birmingham this good?’
There is no doubt that Birmingham has some fantastic beer venues and events, chiefly among them Birmingham Beer Bash, a very highly regarded independent beer festival. The Craven Arms is also a mecca for the Birmingham beer lover serving a fantastic selection on both cask and keg. Other places in the city centre which are also good for ‘craft’ beer include Cherry Reds, Brewdog Birmingham and Purecraft Bar and Kitchen. Alongside this, there are also a number of other venues which offer a great selection of beer available in bottles, cask and keg and these include The Victoria, Post Office Vaults, and The Wellington. This is without the great bottle shops Stirchley Wines and Spirits and Cotteridge Wines which are just a short trip out of the city centre.
Since many of these opened a couple of years ago, the progress here in Birmingham has seemed slow and as a result, it has been hard to convince people in the Midlands and beyond that Birmingham is in fact, an OK place for a few decent beers. That said, this beer drinker feels the pace is increasing, in fact kicking in to overdrive and there are some very exciting new developments.
In recent weeks we have seen the grand opening of Tilt (a place combining Craft Beer, rtisan Coffee and Pinball – a great combo indeed!) and had an announcement of a new food venue opening in December, which will offer a permanent home for the Original Patty Men. This venue will not only serve amazing burgers (including a personal favourite of mine – Big Verns Krispy Ring), but will also serve some fantastic beers as they plan to open in partnership with nationally renowned Siren Craft Brew. Just a short walk out of the city centre Two Towers have also announced the opening of their Tap Room ‘The Gunmaker Arms’ in the Jewellery Quarter which is due to open on 1st December. In addition to this, there have also been a number of tweets suggesting there may be a New Street Tap on the horizon, but we will watch that space for more news…
As if to prove my point that the Birmingham beer scene is indeed growing, whilst writing and editing this blog, Birmingham Beer Bash has announced it will be returning next year and will also be introducing Birmingham’s very first Beer Week.
Over coming months, we as a collective hope to explore and blog about many of these venues and events in much more depth. But for now, I will leave you with one thing I’ve already learnt through exploring all of these new developments…
I am rubbish at pinball.
Disclaimers – There are a number of fantastic venues across Birmingham, and surrounding areas that I have not mentioned in this post for the point of brevity. I hope to cover some of those venues in a future post.