Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Ideal Birmingham Pub Crawl, or is it Beer Crawl?

Given the pubs that Birmingham has, what would be the best achievable pub crawl?

More specifically, since I prioritise beer over surroundings/decor/atmos etc, what would be the ideal beer crawl in Brum?

Here's an imagined (but rooted in reality) attempt.

Starting slightly north of the centre, I'm kicking off with a pint of Oakham Citra in the Bartons Arms.  This is a double whammy, as the pub is a beautifully restored Victorian gem, with lovely tiles; and... it's owned by Oakham, who are one of my favourite/the best breweries in the country.  Citra is a deliciously crisp, hoppy and piquantly fruity beer, with a tickle across the tongue. Lip-smackingly moreish.

Next, a short bus ride away from the Bartons is the Bull - a small, homely, genuine old pub in the Gun Quarter.  Here, I'd probably plump for an Acorn Barnsley Bitter, which seems to be consistently available.  The comforting genuineness of the bitter, would echo the surroundings nicely.

Next I'd swing up to the Jewellery Quarter, to tick off the Lord Clifden, Brown Lion, Rose Villa Tavern, the Drop Forge and Red Lion (in that order).  In those pubs I'd hope to be able to sample [halves obviously] of Bathams (in the Clifdo), Complete Muppetry or Jewellery Porter (in the Brown), Thornbridge Kipling (in the RVT), a Malvern Hills Black Pear (in the Forge), and finally a Purity Mad Goose (in the Red).  Why those beers?  Well, because they are, respectively: i) a pleasure to drink and should always be sampled when available, which it usually is at the Clifdo and Red Lion; ii) the best of Two Towers' current range; iii) Bitters 'n' Twisted pubs usually carry Thornbridge beers, and they are always good; iv) usually on offer around Brum, and a pleasant Golden ale; and v) the best of Purity's 3 ubiquitous Golden ales.

A detour would be required to get to the Black Eagle, and once there, I'd hope for a Brewdog Trashy Blonde.

Heading back to the centre, I'd hope for a pint of Moor Somerland Gold in the Shakespeare [Summer Row], then an Otley Thai-Bo at the Old Contemptibles.  2 x Nicholsons' pubs, with 2 x of the better breweries on their Spring ale roster.

On the homeward stretch, I'd swing by the Old Joint Stock and umm and arr about whether to have a Chiswick Bitter (toasty and tart), a Bengal Lancer (quite hoppy) or a London Porter (rich and roasty).  The Porter would probably win.

In the nearby Wellington, the rotating ales make it difficult to pin down a guaranteed choice, but Wye Valley HPA IS always on, so that would 'do' me.

In the Post Office Vaults there are lots of bottles that I KNOW will be in the fridge on any given day, and a good number of them would tempt me on EVERY given day.  On current form, I think I would have to plump for a De Molen Amerikaans, which has the best aroma EVER.  However, having chosen Amerikaans, I would obviously have to live with NOT having chosen Rodenbach Grand Cru or Lindemans Cuvee Rene Gueuze - but those are the kind of tough choices I make every day.

Before the final leg, I'd head to the Victoria and certainly sample a Thornbridge Jaipur if possible. 

Final 2 stops would be in Digbeth.  First up the Lamp Tavern, where I would hope to sample an Everards Tiger, which is not only a delicious Bitter, but also a small taste of home.  And then the Anchor, which has a retinue of ales which rotate at a similar speed to the Wellington: therefore I would cross my finger and hope to sample a Gargoyles Citra or a Steel City Vane Tempest.

After that I would be fit to drop.

But what conclusions can we draw from this imagined crawl?  Well, firstly that the sort of breweries guaranteed to be available on any given day, in our best pubs, are not really members of the burgeoning 'Craft Beer' scene.  My ideal Brum pub crawl would not allow me to sample Summer Wine, Magic Rock or Buxton.  But, on the positive side, it would allow me to sample some nice Golden ales.  Lots of Golden ales.  Mainly Golden ales in fact.  Golden ales seem to be doing rather well in Birmingham.

The other conclusion, is a rather more obvious one, and that is that Birmingham has lots of lovely drinking venues.  Rather more than you might imagine in fact.  And perhaps more than we realise - which is a sign of improvement is it not?   

In the style of Tony Hart, why not come up with you own imaginary pub crawl, using this ever improving Birmingham Pub Guide via Google Maps?

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