- Warstone Lane Cemetery -
Our established custom when attending this particular event has been to meet at Jewellery Quarter station around about the 11 o'clock mark and this year is no different. We can then enjoy a gentle wander down Warstone Lane towards Hockley, passing the local cemetery with its well-weathered noticeboard and the telltale scattering of autumn leaf-fall. Ford Street marks our approach to the New Bingley Hall where a Birmingham City Transport crest is evidence of the building's previous life as a bus depot.
- Championing the Vanilla Stout -
Entering the hall in a most eager fashion, we quickly procure the requisite programme-token-glass combination and survey the various bars which once again are named after Birmingham luminaries from the worlds of music, entertainment and literature. The Jeff Lynne section is our first port of call so that I can make the acquaintance of Burton Town's Modwena (a very appetising oatmeal stout) while Nick arms himself with Bingham's Vanilla Stout, the reigning Champion Beer of Britain no less!
- A Loose Cannon perchance? -
We've started as we mean to go on so darker ales will be our theme for the day. There are plenty of stouts and porters to choose from in among the 300+ total ales on offer, hence between us we account for the likes of Old Rasputin, Purdy Peculiar, Centwealial Milk Stout and Milestone Honey Porter. I also avail myself of a Loose Cannon Porter (hailing from Suffolk) although I should emphasise that I am most definitely on my best behaviour, even when my attempts to track down a Tibetan-style lager are ultimately thwarted.
- Another Cuddly Chum -
A festival on such a scale requires a suitable finale so a couple of the slightly stronger ales should suffice. Lymestone's Stone Dead (at 6.66% ABV) certainly packs a punch although the Thornbridge Cocoa Wonderland just trumps it for luxurious chocatelyness - very nice indeed. Nick at this point gets grappling with a Kopek Stout as we chat to Mike from Solihull about business trips to Finland and (nearly) Brunei - Winston the charity cuddly toy seems rather less well-travelled by comparison!
- 1000 Trades, Frederick Street -
The festival has lived up to the excellence we have come to expect from it but with tokens spent we must alas bid the place farewell until next year. There's no need to be downhearted though for there are bars beckoning on the way back into Birmingham. The Jewellery Quarter has overseen something of a boom in such establishments with one recent addition being the 1000 Trades on Frederick Street. Stopping off for a half here is an interesting if expensive experience - some nice nods to community involvement and a relaxing ambience but a distinct sense that the craft philosophy carries a price tag. It all goes to show that the WME wallet does occasionally incur collateral damage in the name of pub collecting!
- A stork and a shade? -
That collection is boosted by two further entries as evening draws in. The Rectory on St Paul's Square supplies Wye Valley HPA and a novelty line in animal-inspired table lamps, whereas Edmunds Brewhouse saw us take momentary residence in the library room with bookshelf wallpaper and country club armchairs for a setting that suited us just grand. All that remains is a Snow Hill shuffle for our respective connections home, and that's that for Birmingham Beer Festival 2016. Cheers!