MCB Summer Social 2012
Despite a very unpromising weather forecast, Saturday 9 June was not too bad – cloudy and cool to start with and then a little warmer with some patches of blue sky and glimpses of the sun in the afternoon. To begin our tour of the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, ten of us assembled in the Drop Forge at opening time. This is an old industrial building that has been nicely converted into an attractive drinking and eating establishment. A good range of beer was available and all were in very good condition.
We then proceeded to the Jewellery Arms nearby. This is a traditional “back street boozer” still containing two rooms each subdivided into two distinct drinking areas. The only Real Ale available was Hobsons Bitter so we contented ourselves with a half pint each. Just as we were leaving our 11th member arrived, looking thirsty, but he had to wait until our next stop.
A ten-minute stroll brought us to the Red Lion in Warstone Lane. This is a small two-roomed traditional pub that had fallen on hard times. However, the owner of the Lord Clifton bought it and, after a good deal of money had been spent, reopened it.. The consensus of opinion amongst us is that much of the now very smart but traditional inside owes much to architectural salvage but it has been very well done. The beer was in vgc and my pint of Batham’s Best went down all too quickly. Again, just as we were leaving, another (rarely seen) member turned up to bring us to our full and mighty complement of 12.
After retracing our steps a short distance we found the Rose Villa Tavern. A fairly ordinary exterior hides a beautiful and ornate interior with much splendid tiling and stained glass in evidence. I am sure that the bar back has been moved at some time but there are many “original” features still to be seen. Some of the beer was a little on the cold side, but not seriously so, and some was perfect. A good range and again in vgc.
The Brown Lion, the tap of the nearby Two Towers brewery, was next and here we found a good range of the brewery’s products. Between us I think we sampled all of them. Although a couple were a little on the hazy side, and the bottom of the barrel Mild had to be changed, overall we were impressed with the flavours and quality.
By now stomachs were rumbling and it was a relief to find that the kitchens in the Lord Clifton were fully functioning. I was impressed with the quality of the food and the size of the portions; very good value for the prices charged. A number of tasty beers were available in this lovingly refurbished pub.
This completed the planned tour of the area and although there were other pubs not too far away, we decided to move back into town. After about a 15 walk down Constitution Hill we were soon back at Snow Hill station and found the Old Contemptibles close by. A Nicolsons pub, this has a handsome exterior and a fine interior as well. Another good range of beer was available and choosing was not easy.
A few minutes walk away is the Post Office Vaults, a small bar with a chequered history, and a downstairs entrance from New Street. It now specialises in beer with five or six “proper” beers on plus some so-called craft keg beers and a fair range of bottled beers.
By now the group was getting smaller as some members had trains to catch, but a fair number of us made the Wellington in Bennetts Hill for a final beer before an evening meal. The usual extensive range of draught beer was available, at a price.
Five of us made the Chinese Quarter for a Vietnamese dinner and we also made the final destination, the Shakespeare that is just off New Street, and handy for the station. Now owned by the Nicolson chain, the beer range is better than it used to be.
To sum up, a very enjoyable day with excellent company, some fine pubs – all of them worth a visit – a very good range of beer in very good condition, and a chance to talk informally about beer and brewing (and that is what we did for much of the time).