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.