Despite giving the bigger food festivals a miss this year (you can read my posts about Foodies Festival & the BBC Good Food Show from previous years) I’ve still managed to spend pretty much every weekend eating and drinking my way around Birmingham and the Midlands this summer.
Here’s what I’ve been getting up to in June, July & August.
Lichfield Gin, Cheese & Ale Festival
I love a trip to Lichfield. It’s one of those cities that never fails to be beautiful, but especially so when the sun is shining and the gin is flowing.
The Gin, Cheese & Ale Festival brought sunshine, street food and slushies to the streets of Lichfield.
I spent an afternoon drinking my way through aromatic gin & tonics, Prosecco cocktails from Proseccart and an amazing elderflower gin slushie.
California Craft Beer Residency at The Junction
Another thing that’s awesome when the sun is shining? A nice, cold beer. I got invited along to The Junction with George of Caramel Latte Kiss to try some of the beers in their California Craft Beer Residency.
I had a rather delicious chorizo & mozzarella burger (£11.25) for dinner before we got stuck into the beers.
As the resident beer nerd of our little blogger group, I thoroughly enjoyed drinking my way through a selection of Anchor Brewery & Sierra Nevada summer beers.
We tried California Lager & San Franpsycho IPA from Anchor, and Hazy Little Thing IPA & Otra Vez Goze Ale from Sierra Nevada. I loved the Hazy Little Thing IPA, which had that tropical fruit hop flavour I like, but the Otra Vez was my favourite. A lime and agave infused sour beer that was super refreshing, tart and fruity.
Although the “tasting” left a lot to be desired – as they pretty much just delivered us the beers and left us to it – I enjoyed the selection and getting to try something new. Check out my post on beer & chocolate tasting at The Cock & Hoop Nottingham to see how beer tastings should be done!
Jailbird Cocktail Masterclass
We got shown how to make a Negroni, an Old Fashioned and an Espresso Martini, as well as sampling some of their spirits, and judging one of the cocktails being entered into a competition by their rather talented bar staff.
Although I’m not convinced Jailbird would be the place I’d choose to go for just a drink (though I would certainly go back to eat again) it was undeniable that the cocktails were very good. The classics were well made, and there were some unusual ingredients in there to give each drink a twist, including some Spanish vermouth for the Negroni which I’ve never seen in bars around here before.
The cocktail competition entry was great too, and the staff were more than happy to take constructive criticism from our resident whisky expert Vicky!
Reggae Brunch, which is a big hit in London, made its debut in Birmingham this summer, and I was invited along for the party with my gorgeous friend Claire.
I must admit, walking into Bierkeller Birmingham on Broad Street at midday on a Saturday felt very strange, but after one or two (or three, or four…) rum punches, I got well into the swing of things. We had unlimited rum punches for free for the first hour, but paid for drinks after that.
The vibe was amazing – banging reggae tunes, thoroughly entertaining MC and a great bunch of people who were all up and dancing on the benches.
The three course meal wasn’t the best. The starter was really small – as in, a slice of a lamb patty and a fried dumpling – the main of jerk chicken was tasty but the rice was quite dry and bland, and the dessert was a small portion of cake that was fine, but nothing to write home about.
But, lets be honest, if you’re going to Reggae Brunch, the food probably isn’t the main reason you’re there. The music, atmosphere and the crowd were amazing, and we had such a laugh with the guys on our table, who totally embraced our terrible dancing!
Burger Shop Worcester
Underneath one of the Railway Arches, this funky little place is definitely a hipster haven.
I opted for the Pulled Welsh Lamb Burger with celeriac slaw and a brioche bun (£9.50). This was a serious slab of tender, falling apart lamb, which was complimented beautifully by the peppery slaw & minty pesto.
For sides, I’d heard amazing things about their cheese curds, but when it came to it, I ordered the cauliflower cheese bites to share with Laura from Bite Your Brum. These were delicious, crunchy breaded lumps of creamy cauli cheese, but ended up in some quite chronic indigestion for me & Laura!
We managed to hit up two of the city’s craft beer pubs, Wintrip Brew Co. (where Emma ended up doing some impromptu first aid on the bar staff!) and Firefly Bar before we had to head back on the last train home, where I proceeded to instantly fall asleep the moment we left Foregate Street! Luckily I had George to wake me up as we got to Snow Hill.
That’s not all either. I’ve also been shamelessly spotted at Birmingham Cocktail Weekend, and Independent Birmingham Festival, stuffing my face with more burgers, boozy slushies and whatever else I could get my little paws on. I’m sure there’ll be much more going on as we head through into Autumn. If this heatwave ever subsides…
What have been your favourite events of the summer?
Disclaimer: my beers at The Junction, cocktails at Jailbird and my tickets to Reggae Brunch were complimentary. Everything else has been paid for in full by me. Opinions are, as always, my own, and I was under no obligation to provide a review for any of the events visited.