Live in the Midlands and Want to Blog?

If you’re a Midlands-based beer enthusiast who wants to write, the Midlands Beer Blog Collective might be the opportunity you’ve been looking for.

A while ago, pon­der­ing Lon­don­cen­tric­i­ty in beer blog­ging and writ­ing, we men­tioned that Birm­ing­ham was under-served by beer blog­gers with sev­er­al vet­er­ans hav­ing giv­en up, moved on to oth­er roles in the beer indus­try, or just slowed their pro­duc­tion of con­tent to a trick­le.

Now, Bob Max­field and his col­leagues have launched a mul­ti-author blog ded­i­cat­ed to ‘the love of beer across the Mid­lands and beyond’.

He’s look­ing for peo­ple to write on the blog and says:

We are keen to have dif­fer­ent back­grounds and points of view on the site to dis­cuss and pro­mote all that is hap­pen­ing in the beer world in the Mid­lands. I’m hap­py for peo­ple to blog direct­ly on the site or reblog from their own sites.

In oth­er words, you can host a post on your own blog but also share it via the MBBC or, if you can’t be both­ered to set up and host your own blog but have some­thing to get off your chest, or only want to blog once in a while, MBBC will host the con­tent for you.

We don’t imag­ine you have to actu­al­ly live in the Mid­lands, either – it might just be that you’ve got some­thing to say about the region’s beer and pub scene based on a vis­it or pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence.

Self­ish­ly, we’re delight­ed because this means there might be a more steady flow of intel­li­gence on what’s going on in the region, and because we think mul­ti-author sites might well be the sav­iour of beer blog­ging, tak­ing the pres­sure off any one indi­vid­ual to keep com­ing up with mate­r­i­al.

If you want to get involved, drop Bob a line via Twit­ter or by leav­ing a com­ment on the ‘About’ page of the blog.

Brief Encounter With Beer

The beer list at the Wellington pub, Birmingham.

When the train from Pen­zance spat us out in Birm­ing­ham on Fri­day, on the way to War­wick­shire for a wed­ding, we found we had time for a pint or two between trains. Is there any­thing sweet­er than an hour in the pub stolen from a day which is oth­er­wise not your own? (Would ‘more bit­ter’ be appro­pri­ate?)

The entrance to the Post Office Vaults pub, Birmingham.The Post Office Vaults is a win­dow­less base­ment pub a short walk from the back entrance of Birm­ing­ham New Street Sta­tion. It smells, as cel­lar bars often do, a lit­tle earthy, but those first pints of pale’n’hop­py ale (Salop­i­an Ora­cle (4%) and Ossett Cit­ra (4.2%)) were just what we need­ed to revive us. The Hob­son’s Mild (3.2%) with which we fol­lowed those tast­ed a bit… mild. Too much crys­tal malt was in evi­dence for our taste, but there was no doubt it was in excel­lent con­di­tion. The fin­ish­er, a bot­tle of Stone IPA, was any­thing but mild, though its taste did­n’t quite live up to its in-your-face, mar­malade per­fume.

On the return leg, we arranged a slight­ly longer pause between trains, and man­aged to dash to the Welling­ton, an old-school ‘beer exhi­bi­tion’ with fif­teen cask ales on offer. Mid-refur­bish­ment, it felt tat­ty, but not unpleas­ant­ly so, and the real-time beer list on a flat-screen was a dis­tinct­ly mod­ern touch. At one point, we watched the land­lord pull a tot of gold­en ale into a half pint glass and hold it up to the win­dow, turn­ing it on his fin­ger­tips and peer­ing with nar­rowed eyes, like a dia­mond deal­er inspect­ing a stone for flaws. We were in the hands of pro­fes­sion­als.

The star of the show at the Welling­ton was Oakham Cit­ra (4.2%), though we could­n’t have man­aged a long ses­sion on it, and if we’d have been stay­ing for the after­noon, we’d have stuck with Abbey­dale’s Exo­dus (4.3%) – also very pale, also ‘flo­ral’, but more bal­anced, and with­out any tooth-jan­gling astrin­gency. Abbey­dale seem very reli­able to us and we won­der why they’re not bet­ter known; their under­stat­ed (home­made-look­ing) graph­ic design can’t help.

Final­ly, we fit in a brief stop at a large­ly desert­ed Brew­dog Birm­ing­ham. Cocoa Psy­cho (10%), a choco­late stout, had a big hole where some flavours should have been. The same was true of a fair­ly bland IPA hopped only with Gold­ings from Kent (6.7%). Nei­ther was ‘fizzy’ or ‘cold’ – just lack­ing depth. The same IPA with Sloven­ian Dana hops, how­ev­er, was a star­tling, freak­ish eye-open­er that made us laugh. Our imme­di­ate thought: roast lamb! On dis­sect­ing that, we decid­ed we were tast­ing some­thing like thyme, mint and ‘onion flow­ers’. We’re not sure we liked it, but our taste-buds appre­ci­at­ed the wake-up call. Some­one should go all out and use Dana in a Rauch­bier, or even a meat stout.

The local CAMRA branch seems to be pret­ty clued-up and active. Their mag­a­zine is a slick pub­li­ca­tion which, in the cur­rent issue, includes a nice arti­cle on Antwerp, as well as sneer-free news of Brew­dog’s open­ing. Their free ‘real ale map’ of the city is excel­lent, too. Brew­dog’s staff, for their part, were doing an excel­lent job of edu­cat­ing inter­est­ed pun­ters with­out patro­n­is­ing them.