The Custard Factory, I didn’t think it was real at first, but what a lovely name. Apparently it’s the most powerful collection of creative and digital businesses, independent shops and event venues outside London, if the website is to be believed.
Obviously it’s based around the original and best purveyor of Custard Powder, Bird’s, plus a few other factories added in to make a bit of a cultural village. If you uncheck the ‘no real ale’ box WhatPub says there’s a bar in there somewhere called Clink Beer.
As I walked down the alleyway into the heart of it, I could see the potential when it was all open. But, at around 7pm on a Tuesday evening it felt neither cultural nor innovative, just a bit dank and dim, despite the fairy lights, and very quiet too.
Clink Beer is one of those ‘Bottle Shop, Growler Fill, Tap Rooms’ and as far as they go it’s a very good example. I can see the appeal, it maximises the footfall. A lot of people are into their cans and bottles, drinking at home and sharing with friends. Likewise Growlers, although the concept doesn’t float my boat and if I were drinking at home I’d stick to cans and bottles. And of course anyone popping in for off sales might just be tempted by what’s on offer in the draught beer department.
And why wouldn’t they be tempted with an assortment from Cloudwater, Kernel, Lervig, Fantome, Salopian, Siren and Tilquin; Porter, Stout, English Pale ale, IPA, Table beer, Saison, Geuze. I was more than tempted with quite a few of their excellent beers, and by the sensible pricing, I can tell you.
Decor follows the current ‘Ikea meets Money For Nothing’ you can find it everywhere style. We could have sat down in the room next to the bar or gone up the spiral staircase into a larger seating area above. Instead we stood at the bar chatting to the barman and his mate.
I’ve forgot their names (sorry guys) and didn’t write anything down. They both knew their stuff and I had a really good natter with the barman’s mate who’s politically involved in my ex-profession.
Theres a theme building here, fourth Brum pub, second one where we get chatting to the natives: Gunmakers – tick, Clink Beer – tick; Woodman – negative (although Quinn the barman was brill), Spotted Dog – negative.
The folk I chatted with were from a cross spectrum of society, builders to professionals, the missing link being the negatives appeared, to me, to be mainly students and academic types. I’ve probably qualified as both, but recognise their fickleness and position in the hierarchy of a sustainable communities structure.
I have to make comment on the toilets here, clean and hygienic but why do people have to graffiti everywhere? And such trite, juvenile messages. Seriously, Pissflaps, is that the best you stupid little twits can come up with?
I spent a good hour in Clink and really enjoyed their quality beers and the conversation. We only left when Mrs C had exhausted their supply of draught Saison, they weren’t putting anything else on in preparation for a tap take over the next day, and of course we paid our regards to the God of Custard outside.
Verdict; nice little tap room with some quality modern and progressive beers, on draught, in cans and bottles, of the type I hadn’t seen in three previous Birmingham Good beer Guide pubs.