A couple of weekends ago I hitched a ride with my partner and his friends, who were all heading to UK Games Expo, down to Birmingham. I had never been to Birmingham before, or on a solo-vacation, and I’d heard that there’s great beer there. Plus I felt like I needed a bit of a break and a change of scenery, so I reasoned – why not?
Some of my first thoughts upon reaching the city were “WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS HEAT?!” and other similar exclamations. But once I got acclimatised I got quite excited by all the cool bars, restaurants and things to see in the city. Plus, I got a tonne of great recommendations on social media – special thanks to @martclarke 🙂 – so I knew I was in for a good time!
One of my favourite parts of my Birmingham Big Weekend was going along to Burning Soul Brewery’s taproom, which was a proper treat. The two guys who run the brewery were lovely, and I got to have a look around and some decent chat with them. I bought myself some of their tasty Crusha Pale and went outside to sit in the sun on one of their benches. I lasted about 15 minutes in the sweltering heat, then went inside to sit on their sofa! I am pathetic in hot weather… I then had an incredibly yummy, moreish saison – their Zephyr raspberry farmhouse ale. I was worried it was going to be a bit too sweet for me, especially because it smelt a bit like raspberry jam, but it was actually delightful. Really refreshing and sour, and perfect to cool me down.
On one of the days, while I was waiting by a Persian street food van for a saffron chicken wrap (which was AMAZING), I was chatting away to one of the guys running it, who suggested that I visited The Wellington – he was right, it was an awesome place! A great pub with about 15 cask ales, two floors, and a great roof terrace. It had such a good atmosphere, and the staff were great at helping me choose a beer from the huge selection (choice paralysis is difficult!).
Another highlight was trying Neo-Human Cannonball by Magic Rock (yes, I am fully on the Cannonball series bandwagon) at a great bar called The Wolf. This very tasty NE Double IPA was so juicy and flavourful, with a lovely smooth mouthfeel that really disguises the fact that it’s 9.2%.
One of my best finds was the Indian Brewery, located under one of the arches in the Snowhill area. It was such a cool, innovative place with a great buzz, friendly staff, quirky decor, and the most amazing street food-inspired menu. Not to mention a pretty decent (albeit small) selection of craft beers that are brewed on the premises, especially to be drunk alongside their food.
I did also make a visit to Brewdog. I wouldn’t usually make a special effort to go to one of their bars, but it was right next to my hotel, it was the first night after a long journey down, and they tend to have nice guest beers. I ended up trying their much-hyped Eight-Bit, an eight-way collaboration with Deya, Cloudwater, Northern Monk, Magic Rock, Seventh Son, Stillwater, and The Bruery. It was zingy, hoppy and easy drinking – not perfect, but very yummy.
Unfortunately I tried to visit two other breweries – Dig Brew Co and Two Towers Brewery – during my Birmingham Big Weekend, but even though Google told me their taprooms were open, they were in fact closed. Sad face. Next time!
There are so many cool things to see and do in Birmingham, and it’s so full of good vibes and culture and SUNSHINE – I was quite surprised, as it gets a bit of a bad rep. Non-beery highlights include Coffin Works, a fascinating museum dedicated to the Newman Brothers’ coffin factory, with most things in it preserved as they were when it was operating. I also took a wander east-ways to look all the wonderful street art in the Digbeth area, where there are so many fun murals to gawp at. I had such a good time exploring, and really enjoyed my first solo-vacation too. I can’t wait to return in August!