Last night I decided to visit Birmingham again. Specifically I wanted to visit the Wellington Arms, a pub located just off New Street. Black Country Ales have a number of pubs in and around the West Midlands and a few weeks ago I visited their latest acquisition, The Craven Arms. I was very impressed with this pub but after reading about the Wellington Arms I had to visit and compare.
Whereas the Craven Arms is a little out of town and has the feel of a local backstreet pub, the Wellington Arms is a more typical city centre pub. I arrived shortly after 7.00.pm and it was very busy. It was obvious the place was undergoing refurbishment with wires hanging down from the ceiling etc. Screens listing the available beers showed up to 16 handpumps being available and there were 4 empty ones. Three Black Country Ales beers were available (as with the Craven Arms) and in addition to these there were two beers from Oakham Ales (Citra and Hare and Hedgehog), Purity Mad Goose, Long Man Best, Long Itch Honey Trap, Wye Valley HPA, Derby Sharp as Ninepence, Titanic Mild and Nutbrook Mild Side. With such a selection it was always going to be difficult to choose but I opted for a Nutbrook Mild Side (3.6% ABV).
This beer was not your typical mild. It had a lovely chestnut colour and a very complex flavour. It was fruity with quite a distinct maltiness. It took a little getting used to and the students who came and sat near me did not help as they absolutely stank so I could not determine much from the aroma. Overall, it turned out to be a very satisfying pint though.
Finding a seat wasn't easy as the pub was busy with workers straight from the office (as well as smelly students). The pub was quite narrow with the bar running lengthwise down the right-hand side of the building. There was a seating area at the front of the pub. There was a standing area as well as stools at a few tall tables along the length of the bar and a larger seating area at the back. The refurbishments were ongoing and these will result in an upstairs bar as well as improved cellars to allow for more beers. Three screens listed the beers on numbered handpumps so I did not have to walk along the length of the bar to look at each pump clip. This was most welcome. The bar staff were friendly and helpful. With the reconstruction going on I was probably seeing the pub at its worst which speaks volumes for how good it will be once the work is done. The overall impression therefore was extremely favourable.
For a second pint I chose Right as Ninepence from the Derby Brewing Company (4.0% ABV). This had a lovely copper colour. It was quite malty but it had a gentle bitter finish. It was more to my taste than the first pint and it was a nice way to bring my visit to an end.
To round off the evening I paid a second visit to Post Office Vaults, a short walk from the Wellington Arms. This pub I loved on my first visit and entering from New Street I was somehow expecting a second bar but after going down a narrow staircase I found myself in the bar I was in last time (and the only one). I chose a pint of Plain Ales Inndulgence (5.2% ABV). Described as a ruby porter this rich heavy beer would have been perfect in the cold nights recently departed. It was far from disappointing last night. Plenty of maltiness fought with chocolate and coffee notes as well as a toffee sweetness. It was a lovely warming end to the evening.
The two pubs I visited last night, along with the Craven Arms, form a powerful trio of superb Birmingham pubs. They are all very different but together they provide the beer drinker with every indulgence they are likely to desire. I would not choose any of them ahead of the others. They are all ideal destinations for the lover of beer (and ciders).