Beer Blog

The Wellington, Birmingham, B2

Can’t remember the last time I heard anyone ask for a cider and black? They do round here though. And I reckon that nicely sums up the Wellington, like it’s neither bang on trend, nor is it a traditional heritage pub. Thinking about it, delete the word pub and that statement is about right for Birmingham too.

Although it’s in an impressive looking building, I did wonder whether it has always been a pub? Their website says it opened in late 2004 and was refurbished in 2014 after acquiring office premises upstairs to expand into. The decor is commensurate with the late eighties, rather than either of the latter dates.

Pleasant, comfortable, nothing special, no gimmicks, nothing to make you go Wow! Until you look up at the electronic score board behind the bar displaying details of the sixteen cask ales and the array of beer engines disappearing out of sight down the long bar.

By this time it was about 9.45pm, since our last drink we’d visited the, ‘you’ve got to go’, ‘oldest and still the best’ curry house in Birmingham. Mmmmm? Anyhow, the Welly was reasonably busy, considering it’s Tuesday night and everywhere else seemed a bit ‘day before pay day’.

I’m not going to pick holes and say there were only fifteen cask ales on, who cares. Despite there being a few Locales on I went for the old favourite, Roosters Baby Faced Assassin. Decent GBG quality, a tad on the expensive side at £4.80 a pint. Looking at the prices of the other beers I would have expected it to come in at around £4 – 4.20 a pint, but who cares.

Most of the customers were of a certain age, which explained the presence of the ‘Hazy’ denominator on the beer board. It stops the boring ones, you know the ones who know who brewed what, when and where, the name of everything but not what it means, holding their beer up to the light, roaring, ‘Is it meant to be like that?’ Even though they know full well it is.

What’s wrong with, ‘This is a good example of an unfined, unfiltered beer, although it’s not entirely to my taste … I prefer a traditional clarity to my beer’. You just won’t admit it will you.

Apparently there’s an upstairs, with some extra taps on, I didn’t go up and I didn’t see anyone else going upstairs neither? I did see a dart board and notices about regular events and stuff. Although they don’t do food you can bring your own and they will provide the eating irons and condiments – I don’t ever think I would want to do that?

What I did like was the absence of Guinness on the bar. Their keg stout is from Titanic. There’s nothing wrong with Guinness, but there are equals and even betters. I think they deserve top marks here for encouraging a bit of diversity, Mind you, it would never catch on in your standard local knocking out mild Pilsner variants, John’s Smooth, Guinness, and if you’re lucky some un-real ale like Doom Bar or Tetley’s.

Three premium/continental lagers and a Weisse, but nothing progressive on the keg lines. What did I expect in a place that bills itself as a real ale specialist pub? It said quite bit about the Birmingham scene, or at least from what I’d seen after five pubs. Four Good Beer Guide listed ones like the Wellington (see previous four posts) and one craft beer bar and no cross over between the two styles. Whatever angle I look at it from, I find that a little worrying. Nevertheless, I can see the appeal of the Wellington to card carrying, discount seeking CAMRA die hards.

P.S. I never asked so I can’t tell you.

15 replies »

  1. Love the photos. Were you recreating the famed Beer & Pubs tour on Oct ’17 ?

    You’ve got the Welly spot-on. Quite old-school, despite the expansion. It was cutting-edge in 2004, beer range seems outdated now. I’ve had beer ranging from 2.5 to 4 over the years, so it’s not really an ale exhibition, Post Office Vaults better for quality. And it used to stink, better recently.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember the Wellington as a pint in the 1990s. It sold Directors and then I think Banks’s.
    I usually use it now in the daytime when it’s much busier than in your photos.
    I’ve been upstairs where you would find meeting rooms and the pub cat.
    Fifteen cask ales on is what makes it so different from other Black Country Ales pubs – and the prices.
    “What I did like was the absence of Guinness on the bar”, an idea they probably got from Humphrey.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I was a student in Brum (or shortly after) the Wellington became one of Birmingham’s first Courage pubs in a deal with Ansell’s and M&B to broaden the range of beers available in the West Midlands.

    This may also help to explain your observations about the beer scene here in Brum. When I first came here (in 1976) there were only Ansell’s and M&B pubs (plus a handful of Davenports) and although it’s been over 40 years I have a feeling that the ‘adventure’ of seeing 2 or 3 different beers still blows the minds of the old school Brummie drinkers. (That’s why the Wellington with fifteen(!) is seen as such a shrine.)

    There is an up and coming new generation of brewers/drinkers but the spirit of crossover doesn’t seem to be present…yet.

    Which curry house did you venture into- was it Manzil’s?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Pete,
      Yes, of course, it was the tripartite Allied – Bass – Courage pub swaps of forty years ago that brought the Directors I remember to the Wellington.
      Bennets Hill has of course got many more ‘pubs’ since then, the Briar Rose, the Sun on the Hill, the Cosy Club, Lost & found, the Pint Shop, etc.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I go to Manzil’s quite often and I have to agree with you about the food. For me it is always good/OK, but I’ve never had a great curry there (Never had a bad one either!). The two main things in its favour are the people who run it and it’s old school opening hours (not many Brum curry houses are open until the early hours these days!)

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Electronic beerboards must be the future – and will quickly make the unreadable chalk board redundant.

    I like the ‘Fancy something different? – Titanic Plum Porter and two rotating guest beers upstairs’ bit. Sounds like a classic pub act – probably involving some kind of turntable – or perhaps it’s a new craft thing… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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