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Monday, 26 July 2010

Birmingham & The Wellington

Birmingham, a city punctuated by shopping centres. Loads of them, all with a different name. The Bulling, The Pallasades, Priory Square, Pavilions, those Brummies love a shopping centre. At times it’s welcoming and homely, the hustle and bustle, the tall buildings, you’d be excused for thinking it’s London. But turn a corner and it’s open, spread out, nothing like a city at all. And where’s all the traffic; people must be getting to these shopping centres somehow.

During my brief trip I managed to sneak in a few places and a few beers. The thing most worth talking about is a pub called The Wellington.

Just off Victoria Square on Bennetts Hill, you’d easily walk past it without noticing. Inside we’re immediately greeted by an epically long bar, adorned with sixteen hand pumps and two smiley barmen. Plasma screens proudly present PowerPoint slides with the current offering on them. Beers listed by brewery, name and strength; the tagline warning you to “please order by pump number”. Fifteen of the sixteen are on, I decide to stay local and go with a half of Purity Mad Goose and half a, not so local, Wye Valley HPA. Hungry from a morning spent walking about town, I ask for a food menu to be told that “no food is served here” but “feel free to bring your own”. The barman confirms this by pointing at the large sign I walked right past, the large sign that says “Bring your own food”. Damn.

The pub is an odd shape, ends flaring out into seating areas with a pinch point in the middle where the bar is. There’s a dart board in one corner and beer festival posters are littered about the place. We spot an empty table near the window and make a move for it. A shelf behind me houses all manner of beer related books; I pick up Michael Jackson’s "New World Guide to Beer" as I notice a guy walk past me with a Brooklyn Brewery shirt on. As I flick through the pages I can hear the barman waxing lyrical to a customer about the fantastic beer he had last night. I slouch down into the chair. This place is fantastic I think to myself.

The Mad Goose is hard going, a mineral quality and a big bitterness to it. The HPA is better, softer, ale-yeast-fruit and some floral hop. Two pumps have changed by the time we finish our round. Feeling the pull of that beery bubble, we consider staying all evening, spending our time moving from one pump to another, soaking up the beer love that seems to fuel the place.

If you’re in town, it’s well worth a visit. A pub where beer is king; they really have got it spot on.


Mark N said...

Sounds like a great pub. Out of interest, what sort of price were you paying for a pint up there?

Mark said...

Anywhere between £2.80 and £3.40.

They actually seem to be pretty good at keeping their website up to date with the current beer offering, have a look here:



James said...

What did you make of the beer quality in the Wellington? I've been there loads of times and I find it inconsistent. I quite often find the beer lacking condition and warm. Not a brilliant pub, but it offers the most choice in Birmingham city centre. The Old Contemptibles near Snow Hill station is worth a visit, as is the Old Joint Stock.

Mark said...

We only stayed for the two but they were both in top nick.

I get the impression that HPA and Mad Goose are always on (and rotate pretty quickly) ... maybe I picked the right beer?

Old Joint Stick was on the list but time ran away with us, maybe next time. :)

Reluctant Scooper said...

Yep, you chose wisely. Both are regular beers and, as you say, get turned over. Quality at the Welly is hit-and-miss and sometimes the pricing seems completely hatstand.

I find it seems to struggle with beer quality in the summer. It's still the most diverse range of beers in the city centre, though.

Sat In A Pub said...

Off soon to do a feature on Birmingham and will be putting the Wellie through its paces once again. Diversity is fine, but I will be interested in seeing if the quality is there.

Mark said...

It really comes as a surprise that they have quality issue there. Looks like I was just lucky, but I walked out with the impression it was nothing but excellent in the way it's run.

Just shows you how a pub visit can differ from one customer to the next.

Pablo said...

Hi, Thanks for the tip, will be checking it out soon. The Old contemptibles used to be a real spit and sawdust boozer before gentrification kicked in. Its not the same anymore, but I agree, the joint stock is not bad. Great blog, Cheers, pablo

Mark said...

Thanks for the comment Pablo, appreciate the feedback.

Hope you have a good pint like I did!

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