German Markets, Christmas shopping and temperatures just above freezing meant that not even another home defeat for Birmingham City could stop the inevitable Christmas tourists descend upon Second City boozers.
With all the pressure pubs are under these days as bright sparks continue to invent new ways to stop us drinking with Dryanuary and Stoptober (#tryanuary is a much better and more positive way of supporting the industry), then these pre-Crimbo tourists are always welcome.
I know pub bloggers will note that pubs aren’t just for Christmas, use it or lose it etc. etc. but surely anything that helps get people spending money in hostelries is positive.
And I reckon I deserved a drink on Saturday having spent another 90 minutes at St Andrew’s watching Birmingham kick start QPR’s renaissance so I thought it would be nice to mix with royalty.
My drinking/football buddy and I had a brisk stroll into Brum from B9 and one of our stop offs was in the business district, which was remarkably busy for a Saturday evening.
Yes, I know it is arguably the busiest Saturday of the year but it was great to see places like 113 – The Old Royal B3 2DP packed as this is a ‘proper’ city centre boozer.
It’s claim to fame was that Queen Elizabeth’s grandmother stopped here for a night and you can see why this Hamblin designed Grade II listed building would have attracted royalty back in the day.
There are some cracking buildings in this area of town (near Snow Hill Station) and this has definitely found its market in and amongst the suits and gin palaces in close proximity.
Sky Sports is definitely on in this pub with two screens but it is not loud, so the crackle of conversation was permeating the room and it definitely isn’t a place Harry/Wills or Kate Middleton are likely to rock up to nowadays, even though this place has a Prince Albert Lounge and pictures of royal family members and family trees adorning the wall.
A couple of massive blokes in Christmas jumpers who could barely stand were having a pushing match outside the front door (it was about 7.30!) but it was comedy value as opposed to intimidating and we managed to negotiate our way past into this grand old building.
There were lots of couples, large groups, small groups and a couple of top old boys at the bar who looked like they had possibly shared a gin with royalty back in the day!
Some decent beer on too as I had a Hooky (Hook Norton) and followed it up with a Hop House (St. James’ Gate) as the atmosphere was so good in this place we stayed for a little bit longer.
I’m also going to give a plug to About In Brum (see opening picture), which I picked up in The Old Royal as it as an essential read for all that is great and good about Birmingham… (I’m not on commission!)
This is one of the pubs that isn’t always on people’s Birmingham bucket list but it is well worth popping in to see a slice of Second City life before gentrification took over.
Just prior to visiting royalty our ‘Christmas Shopping Expedition’ took a trip down memory lane with a pint in 114 – Utopia the Country Bar B3 2NP.
Back in a previous existence I worked for the Birmingham Post and Mail when it had city centre offices, as opposed to being stuck out on the M6 on the former site of Fort Dunlop near absolutely nowhere…..
Who says newspapers are the architects of their own downfall?
Anyway, on occasions, it was known for one or two journalists to have a post-work/lunchtime beverage and this was within walking distance of the offices.
Primarily, it is a food based boozer with wine and cocktails and champers, as it is slap bang in the middle of the financial business district. But it usually does a decent line in beer and always has a good atmosphere.
Considering it was around 6pm on a Saturday night it was full so we shoe-horned ourselves into a standing room only area by the bar.
There wasn’t any ale on but that wasn’t a problem as Heineken did the trick and the bar staff were suitably festive in Christmas jumpers.
There were plenty of people eating but you never get the feeling you can’t come in just for a drink here and I always get the impression (in fact I know) it is a haven for lunchtime ‘business’ meetings!
But it shows sport, sells drinks, is always buzzing and if you wear a suit in Brum then there is a 99% chance you will have been in here for a tot! It’s not a pub for everyone and not quite sure of the ‘Country bar in the city’ strapline but I’ve always had a good time with friends, work colleagues and Mrs BB would also warm to this place…not one for the kids.
I may be biased but there is so much to like about a night in Birmingham and if you continue to look off the beaten track there is always a good night to be had as both these vastly differing venues proved.