Sample the best of Birmingham’s independent businesses, one sip at a time *hic*.
Warning: This challenge isn’t for the feint on heart. So without further ado. Cheers!
2 City Arcade, B2 4TX
We start our noble quest in a place where craft beer is king and pinballin’ is the answer to all of life’s problems. Tilt. There are a number of funky beers on tap (these revolve all the time to keep things fresh and exciting) and an even larger number of even funkier beers by the bottle and the can.
Drink up, shoot a little pinball and prepare yourself for an adventure – we’ve got places to go, and drinks to drink.
02. Loki Wine
Great Western Arcade, B2 5HU
Next up, it’s wine time. Loki Wine time. This is perhaps the most sophisticated part of the evening.
How to Loki: enter and demand wine. Choose your wine from the cool pressurised wine machine thing (that’s a technical term) and then drink it by the glass. To increase your Loki experience by a factor of 15, grab a bottle of wine off the shelf, take it upstairs and order a cheese board for you and your friends to share while quaffing a damn fine wine. It’s classy and you get to line your stomach with all of the cheese.
03. The Jekyll & Hyde
28 Steelhouse Lane, B4 6BJ
Sophistication got taken out behind the woodshed and put down the moment you walked through the doors to The Jekyll and Hyde, now gin-based shenanigans are the order of the day.
Mr Hyde’s bar is the place to be, and gin is what you’ll drink. If you’re an amateur you’ll order a G&T, if you’re a legend you’ll order a gin cocktail that comes in a retro sweetie jar and is adorned with confectionary. We’re not telling you how to live your life, but do the latter. Trust us.
04. Bar Opus
2 City Arcade, B2 4TX
Now we hit Colmore Row where the drinks come thick and fast. Not literally thick, that’d be disgusting. Unless they’re a milkshake, in which case cool. Cool.
First up of the Colmore Club is Bar Opus. Enter, head to the bar and brazenly order a basket of 6 sharing cocktails. If you’re with friends, you drink them all to yourself. If you’re not with friends and you’re some sort of legend taking on this challenge alone, then you drink them all to yourself anyway.
05. Ginger’s Bar
11 Newhall Street, B3 3NY
Next up on the Colmore stretch of the bar crawl is a bar that’s not on Colmore Row, not that the last one technically was either. We’re rogues and the rules mean nothing to us. So, Ginger’s Bar it is then.
A bar attached to Purnell’s Bistro, if we have to explain who Glynn Purnell is to you at this point then you’re probably on the wrong website. He’s a legend, and his bar is damn ace too. Delicious cocktails are the name of the game, and we recommend you grab yourself a scorched lemon Martini.
06. The Bureau Bar and Kitchen
110 Colmore Row, B3 3AG
This one actually is on Colmore Row, and so is the next because it’s practically next door. But we’re talking about The Bureau Bar and Kitchen folks. The Bureau.
If the rooftop gin terrace is open when you’re reading this article, you already know your next move: order a cocktail from the rather extensive cocktail menu and then head upstairs for some evening summer sunshine and good times. It’s a bold strategy, and a winning one.
07. Chung Ying Central
126 Colmore Row, B3 3AP
Enter Chung Ying Central and don’t take no for an answer – you want Dim Sum and cocktails.
Dim Sum because by this point you’re probably remarkably peckish and these are small plates that’ll fill you, but
not push you over the edge. Cocktails because, well, you like drinking them.
So you’ve got the platter that matters, a table full of Dim Sum (we recommend spring rolls and char sui buns, but don’t mind us – order whatever you want), now it’s time to feast. And drink.
08. The Post Office Vaults
84 New Street, B2 4BA
An underground pub, The Post Office Vaults has so many bottles of beer that all that you can do is point at the one with the brightest label and pray to the beer gods that it’s one you like. We call it a lucky dip. Not really, we just made that up; but we’re hoping it catches on.
Drink your beer and try not to act as though you’re not a regular and don’t really have a clue what’s going on and certainly hide that parcel you thought you’d post halfway through the bar crawl – it’s not that kind of Post Office dammit! Once your beer is empty, give a tip of the hat to the bartender and find your way out. Next stop, more beer!
09. Nosh & Quaff
130 Colmore Row, B3 3AP
Once again stumble a few paces to your right and you’ll find yourself entering Nosh and Quaff. First up, that smell is going to hit you. Burgers, lobsters, ribs, wings, CHIPS! Stay strong, we’re on a bar crawl here, not some crazy pig out (but kudos if you are on a crazy pig out, because we’re all about that).
You’ll want to head upstairs to the main bar area, with a decent view of Victoria Square and a range of craft beer, cocktails and wine on which to quench your insatiable thirst. We recommend one of the craft beers. The next few stops on our bar crawl are dominated by beer, but what the heck – it’s good to get a head start, right?
10. Purecraft Bar and Kitchen
30 Waterloo Street, B2 5TJ
If ever there was a haven for beer lovers in Birmingham, Purecraft Bar and Kitchen is it. There are over 100 beers in this (rather brilliant) pub, and pub grub to go with it. Rumour is that their scotch egg is THE BEST scotch egg in the city.
Head to the bar, squint at the menu and then say ‘I’ll have a pint of what he’s having’. If there’s no one stood next to you, then you’re on your own. Both figuratively and literally. Anyway, enjoy your chosen pint in the good company of other beer connoisseurs.
11. The Wellington
37 Bennets Hill, B2 5SN
If you’re heading to The Wellington (or The Welly if you’re a regular) on cheese night then chances are you’re probably going to end the night there.
You’ll drink beer (there is so much choice, so, so much) and eat every single piece of cheese you can get your hands on. We urge you to stay away from the cheese, or at least just go back on a night when you’re not roaming from bar to bar trying to complete some (quite frankly) insane challenge set by a man who writes articles in his dressing gown and talks to his dog.
12. Bodega Bar Y Cantina
12 Bennets Hill, B2 5RS
We decided to give you a break from beer. It’s nice and all, but damn it’s filling. Cocktails are the way forward in Bodega. Head downstairs (past restaurant-goers who are totally unaware of just how awesome you are) to the Sugarloaf Bar.
At this stage, it might be good just to order a shot of tequila or rum. But then again, they shake and stir up some pretty nice cocktails so maybe you just order one of them and get on with it. With tunes blaring and a cocktail in hand, you might want to boogie a little. We can allow that. But only a little boogie, you’ve still got work to do.
13. The Sun On The Hill
23 Bennetts Hill, B2 5QP
Pub? Ok, pub.
The Sun on the Hill has been a stalwart of Bennett’s Hill for longer than we can remember. The rules are simple, you go in, drink beer or (if you’re some kind of madman or a university student) a Jaegerbomb, and hang out with the locals.
It’s a friendly crowd in there and there’s beer aplenty for all. Chug your drink and maybe raise a toast to us for sending you on this noble quest.
14. Buffalo and Rye
11 Bennetts Hill, B2 5RS
Last stop. You’ve made it this far and now the final choice is between a hard-hitting nightcap or a fun and boozy milkshake at Buffalo and Rye. We’re going with milkshake because we just love milkshakes. If you’re into the hard stuff though, a Negroni or Old Fashioned would be the way to go. But we’re into milkshakes.
Go with vanilla and then add some spiced rum to it, you’ll be thanking us for the great tip later and if anyone gives you a strange look for slurping on a shake then you just stare right back at them because they aren’t in the know.
Congratulations! You’ve done it!
You’ve made it to the very end of Ultimate City Centre Bar Crawl. You deserve a medal, but we don’t have any… Just let the knowledge that you’ve helped support Birmingham’s independent businesses wash over you in an awesome wave and know that you’re keeping these brilliant bars and ace pubs alive with your custom. Well played you, well played.
If you can make it to either The Sun Flower Lounge or Snobs after all of this, then you’re not human. Both, however, are excellent locations to dance to great music and carry on this party.
Note: this is an ‘Ultimate Bar Crawl’ and as such it’s probably (*definitely*) way too crazy to tackle all of it in one sitting. That would be insane. Do the first part, do the second part or just jump in halfway through and make up your own version. Any which way you do it, drink responsibly folks or we’ll have momma IB on our case.
Joe Schuppler is the founder of Independent Birmingham, and is dedicated to unearthing Birmingham’s hidden gems and best-kept secrets. Join the revolution of localism today and rediscover your city – Believe in Birmingham!
Membership cards are available from www.independent-birmingham.co.uk from £10.
BLOC Hotel Birmingham
The BLOC philosophy is new to the UK. The concept is called pared-down chic and is based on ideas we’ve adapted from the best designers around the world. By injecting a little British creativity, we have been pushing the boundaries of hotel design. From the build right down to the finishes in each room, we work with cutting-edge materials and innovative thinkers whose mantra really is, small is beautiful.
The idea is to build very cleverly using the very best materials whilst still making it as cost-effective as possible. And that means we can offer our guests really chic rooms in prime city centre locations at very, very good prices.