Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Pubs near railway stations (Part 2 of an occasional series)

Birmingham is not a city a know well. It is, perhaps, not a city with a reputation for being remarkably interesting. My only visit, prior to recent times, was to Edgbaston in 2008, to watch 'Freddie' Flintoff terrorise Jacques Kallis with a remarkable spell of fast bowling. Sadly England lost. (A brilliant Smith Innings, 154*)

Of late I have been to Birmingham at least monthly. The Energy Systems Catapult is based close to New St Station, and I, as a man of work, have business with the Catapult. My trips usually involve a swift walk from New St station to the Catapult offices, and an equally swift walk back at the end of the day. Thus far I have avoided missing the train, but I haven't seen much of Birmingham, beyond that which can be seen from the 7th floor of Cannon House.

Last night this all changed. I went for a drink with Mr X, starting for a pint and a pie in one of the most remarkable pubs, in terms of interior, The Old Joint Stock. (Formerly a branch of the Joint Stock Bank, now a pub, theatre and Grade II listed building). I had expressed an interest in exploring "Everything that Birmingham had to offer.", bur Mr X assured me I couldn't handle that. So a pie and a pint it was.

Then, having wandered around a bit, taking in the completely bonkers Parthenon-inspired Town Hall we arrived at The Post Office Vaults, just a few short meters from New St Station on Pinfold St (with a second entrance at 84 New St).

It's not clear what relationship the pub has with the Post Office. Once upon a time it was called "The Royal Mail". One can presume, perhaps, that Royal Mail workers based at the station used to drink here.

It's on odd pub, with a windowless, garish red, cream and navy 'Post Office' themed exterior. But don't be put off, as the stairs down lead to beer nirvana. On offer are (on current count) 395 different bottled foreign beers plus an excellent pint of Hobson's mild, as well at 7 other (regularly varied) real ales on tap. (And, the website says, 13 different ciders and perries).


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