Brummie directions, as you know, can only be given with reference to pubs and islands. This works for us. This is a good system, or rather it is until the thing which we need to find is the actual pub itself. It is difficult to find a pub in the same way that it is difficult to find my glasses: I need the glasses to find my glasses, and I need the pub to find the pub. Such is the chicken and egg riddle of finding one’s way around Birmingham.
I’m looking for the pub now.
It’s a city centre pub, and this makes finding its whereabouts doubly hard. Firstly because there are no traffic islands, so I can’t orient myself to those and secondly because it’s not really in a bit of town that has any pubs. I’m lost, and nobody can help me.
The pub is called Tilt.
I first heard of Tilt on a text message. Apparently it’s my kind of thing.
“Where is it?”
“Near Martineau Place. In an arcade thing that didn’t really work out.”
“Ah. Birmingham’s famous Failed Development Quarter.”
Martineau Place is one of Brum’s many mixed use developments and it’s always felt jinxed. It’s currently anchored by two Poundland stores, one on each of the corners that face onto Corporation Street. Inside things have come and gone — mostly gone.
Tilt is a craft beer bar, like the kids have now.
“So is it actually in Martineau Place then?”
Continue reading “Full Tilt”
The latest Birmingham PLC press release — painstakingly recreated as news by the local paper — makes many proud boasts about the planned redevelopment of the Christopher Wray lighting factory. It includes the usual lauding of new shiny buildings and a shameless brag about how much the land has gone up in value since the owner bought up the previously undesirable site for cheap and banked it until HS2 was a dead cert.
But the thing that stood out for us was the claim that they’re going to make Brum’s first “ruin pub” — they’ve been ruining pubs all around town for years now, so how can this be a first?
There are actual ruins like the Fox & Grapes, just a few hundred yards from Christopher Wray, which is surely only one more stray match away from joining Island House in becoming a car park for new builds of Snow Hill. And then there are the more prosaically ruined pubs, like The Dog on Hagley Road which had its rabbit warren of snugs hollowed out to make a generic cavern to house an Ember Inn — the sort of pub ruin that is happening somewhere near you right now, no doubt.
And then there are the trendy pubs, of course, they’re the real ruins. But what should a real pub be like? We asked Andre De Orwell to describe his perfect watering hole..
Continue reading “The Ruin Under Water — our perfect Birmingham Pub”
We’ve been out drinking for about six hours, we’ve lost a lot of people and one of us is bleeding. In a few minutes one of us is going to try to pick a row with a train driver. I am cool hunting in the suburbs of Birmingham, and it’s going poorly.
Here are two things that are hot right now: craft beer, and Birmingham.
So hot are these two things that when The Guardian ran yet another piece a piece on how Birmingham is cool now, craft beer formed a central part of its thesis:
“Two years ago, you struggled to get a pint of real ale, let alone craft beer, in most of Birmingham. Now, from Colmore Row, down John Bright Street, to Digbeth, the city centre is awash in the stuff. It’s as if a phalanx of hipsters, fleeing London’s housing market, have swept up the West Coast mainline to alight at New Street.”
Now that’s not true (we’ve had real and craft beer for at least two and a half years*) but it doesn’t mean it’s not interesting. If craft beer is a measure of how cool a place is, then just how cool is Birmingham? And what would be a fair test?
I’ve got an idea.
Continue reading “The Craft City Line”