There haven’t been many good news stories recently with pubs so it’s great to see Digbeth bucking the trend and restoring not one, not two but three boozers that appeared to be finished.
Digbeth is the Bohemian area of Brum and depending on your take is either awash with colour and street art/strewn with graffiti and litter.
There’s no doubt a lot of the traditional businesses have bitten the dust, but this is a region that still has plenty of entrepreneurs as well as a strong Irish influence amidst all the ongoing gentrification.
I’ll leave you waiting for the Lister & Lea Grade II Listed classic known as The White Swan but there are pubs I thought had gone forever making a comeback and looking like they can survive.
It’s been a while since I posted but a rare Saturday off gave me the chance to go to Birmingham without the added pain of actually watching Birmingham City play.
The demise of so many pubs in Digbeth, Deritend and Small Heath mean that Blues fans options of a tot before and after the game are ever decreasing so the news that 680 – The Fountain Inn B12 0PG on Cheapside in Digbeth was back open again is a huge bonus.
I have to confess it was Pete Allen who alerted me to this old skool gem being open again on his excellent blog – read it here – but the chance of a pint in a ‘proper’ Digbeth pub was too good to refuse.
A bit of background will tell you it’s been pulling pints since 1780 and after a car ploughed into the pub 18 months ago, it looked as though it was gone forever with flats/apartments being built all around.
However, it has been rebuilt and is an absolute classic. I strolled in at around quarter past three and it was clean, bright and full of life. Four or five screens were up with BT Sport and Sky Sports on and this was the busiest pub I saw all day.
It’s a lively, no nonsense Irish pub with loads of memorabilia from olden times in Brum and it looks really smart and knows its audience.
No cask but I had a pint of Atlantic (Sharp’s) on Keg and at £3 is a great price for a city centre pub and a copy of The Craic was available to read just to add to its Irish credentials.
The advert says Birmingham City fans are welcome and this place was packed without them playing so I reckon it could take the place of somewhere like The Waggon and Horses, which has morphed into Dead Wax Digbeth.
By this, I mean lots of laughter, lots of having the craic and a lot of playing up but ultimately, a welcome addition to the pub scene in Digbeth and great to see it revived.
A couple of lads were in full f***s mode throughout most of their conversation but everyone was chilled and the beer was flowing at a rate of knots.
This was the second pub of the day for me on my mini Digbeth crawl and my final pit stop was at another pub I thought had long gone.
The Forge Tavern had a chequered past and after a stabbing in 2017 it looked like time was finally called on this pub in close proximity to St Andrew’s.
However, it has been reinvented and a quick peek at its FB page shows that 681 – Son Caney Cuba Bar B9 4AY appears to be thriving.
I’m not sure how long it has been open but the Gaffer is an absolute gem. He was happy to chat about Cuba and was delighted to show me what he reckoned was the best Corona beer pump in the country!
He had a point and it was highly impressive, in fact, in the absence of any cask, I thought I’d have to try a pint of Corona and the obligatory slice of lime.
I was the only punter at around 6pm but the gaffer was so passionate and happy to fit in with his local environment it was impossible to see how this place won’t succeed.
It already looked more welcoming than The Forge Tavern ever did and he has even painted the bar blue and white.
You’ve got to love the fact that in amongst all the gentrification, tap houses, street art and dance clubs there are two pubs reborn. They aren’t niche real ale pubs as they are both keg only but one is full of life with punters and the other has a gaffer who sees the beauty of urban, gritty Brum….
More revived bars in Digbeth next time…