I’ve lived in Birmingham for more than two years and I’d never been to Harborne. This is especially scandalous for two reasons…
1. There is a whole host of pubs within yards of each other on the high street that I hadn’t stepped foot in.
2. One of said establishments is owned by the pub chain I work for.
All in all, pretty poor effort on my part.
So on a rainy Good Friday, riddled with an almighty hangover, my flatmate and I decided the best thing for it was to head out to visit the place and spend our afternoon traipsing the high street, stopping off in a few of the pubs that make up the famous Harborne run.
Starting off in The Junction, I got a chance to sample a couple of the pub’s recent additions from their new seasonal draught range – Beavertown Neck Oil Session IPA (always delicious from the can, but especially quenching on keg) and a Blanche De Bruxelles (a spicy, fruity Belgian witbier). Working for Castle, I knew that there was a strong possibility that these beers would be on, but there’s still something hugely exciting about walking into any pub and seeing the enticing artwork of the Beavertown range on the pump clips or in the fridges, especially in Birmingham.
The inviting warmth of The New Inn was our next stop off. Until now my only unvisited Bitters ‘n’ Twisted establishment and probably already one of my favourites. All the olde worlde features of the The Victoria, the cosy atmosphere of the Jekyll and Hyde and a cocktail menu that could hold it’s own against Island Bar. Even after three pints and the pork and chorizo burger in The Junction, I was still feeling relatively fragile, so stuck to a Titanic Plum Porter and a Sadler’s Red IPA, as much as the Beast of the Hunt cocktail – bourbon, Grand Marnier, orgeat, orange bitters and lemon juice – tried to tempt me onto the harder stuff.
I’d been given this recommendation the previous day from an old colleague who lives in Harborne, describing the two-week old pop-up as somewhere which sells ‘wings and beer’. A simple yet thoroughly accurate depiction of what exactly was going on in the old Walter Smith butchers when we stepped inside.
A weekly event, setup by the minds behind the Harborne Kitchen, Mike Bullard and Jamie Desogus, we were witnessing the chip-board clad, pop-up on the first of a three day long Easter weekend binge, which earlier in day had been feeding the hungry masses with a an almighty hog roast.
Now in the midst of a busy afternoon session, they were solely serving up salted caramel, maple BBQ, lavender & szechuan chicken wings, alongside beers from Two Towers Brewery and Langley’s No.8 gin and tonics. The make-shift tables constructed from wooden pallets were awash with plastic trays full of chicken bones and half-drunk plastic cups of Chamberlain Pale Ale.
My eyes will most certainly be peeled for the full-blown Butchers Social restaurant which is set to be opening in the same venue in the near future.
A swift bottle of Einstok Pale Ale in The Stores and a few pints of Pilsner Urquell in The Plough followed, before succumbing to the inevitable – a premature end to the Harborne run, an Uber home and a nap (coma) in front of Netflix.