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The Old Joint Stock, pub

The 18 best pubs in Birmingham

Want to drink as the locals do? Pull up a stool and settle in for a pint at one of the very best pubs in Birmingham

Huw Oliver
Written by
Kayleigh Watson
&
Huw Oliver
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As quintessential Brummie experiences go, few are as authentic as a lazy afternoon spent at the pub. Whether it’s a cheeky half of local ale you’re after, some delish gourmet grub or just pints, pints, pints, these brilliant pubs in Birmingham can deliver. Packed with character and personalities, they’re perfectly suited for a quiet afternoon with a board game or book. And to hobnob with locals as evening descends, there’s nowhere better.

For more quintessential Brummie experiences, why not check out the most charming spots for afternoon tea in Birmingham and the city’s absolute best Indian restaurants? You’ll fit right in in no time.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in Birmingham

Best pubs in Birmingham

  • Bars and pubs

Dating back to 1398 and tucked opposite New Street Station in the Burlington Arcade, this pub is pretty easy to miss. But first-time visitors to Bacchus Bar are always in for a treat, as the descent underground and bizarre interior leave a lasting impression. While it’s not quite Crystal Maze Medieval Zone, once you’re familiar with its whereabouts it’s a perfect place for a catch-up; for starters there’s next-to-no signal, plus it has a warren of nooks and crannies.

  • Bars and pubs

Chesterfields, Victorian tiles, a full-size red telephone booth and an illuminated tree are just some of the things you’ll find at Bitters ’n Twisted’s Jewellery Quarter outpost. While there’s a bunch of sizeable and unfussy grub at hand, the drinks are where it's at. With regular happy hours lasting distinctly longer than 60 minutes, you can afford to take a risk and try something out of the ordinary, like the Aero Martini – crème de menthe shaken with white chocolate liquor and cream.

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The Victoria
  • Bars and pubs

Just around the corner from New Street Station and The Alexandra theatre, The Victoria holds a darkly gaudy charm that dates back to the nineteenth century. Apparently, it’s even home to a ghost. With quiz nights, live music, finger food and a variety of locally produced ales and curated wines, there’s something for every kind of tippler here.

  • Bars and pubs

Split into three distinct areas, Hockley’s The Lord Clifden is that rare beast: a pub that fills up in any season and allows permanent locals and transient Jewellery Quarter-dwellers to exist in mutual harmony. Their garden may be a sun trap, but we love long and celestial summer nights in the laid-back surroundings. With guest DJs, table tennis, a seasonal BBQ and the all-important bar, you’ll find yourself leaving hours after you intended. Oh, and their famous Sunday roasts are back on their revamped post-lockdown menu.

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Purecraft Bar & Kitchen
  • Restaurants

Despite offering more than a hundred beers, Purecraft Bar & Kitchen is as often the pick of Brum’s gin-swigging contingent as it is the protectorate of boys’ business lunches or post-work ales. With local legends Purity Brewing partly behind the city centre’s industrial chic, the beer is unsurprisingly served right every time, and the drinks list includes a blackboard chock-full of tasty surprises. Home to high-quality food and an award-winning Scotch egg courtesy of head chef Stuart Langdell, the experience is the best of both worlds.

  • Theatre

Another Grade II-listed building, The Old Joint Stock dates back to 1862 and was designed by Julius Alfred Chatwin (who also contributed to the design of St. Philip’s Cathedral opposite). It started out as a parson’s library before being turned into the Birmingham Joint Stock Bank. Near the city’s business quarter, this eye-catching building now houses both a lofty bar (well stocked with ales) and a small cabaret theatre.

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The Village
  • Restaurants
  • British

One of Birmingham’s most established LGBTQ+ spaces, The Village has stood the test of time for a reason. Quite the chameleon, the venue has an atmosphere for every occasion – not to mention something happening every night of the week. From bingo to karaoke to live cabaret and a host of stellar local drag talent, it is the beating heart of the city’s Gay Village.

Hare & Hounds
Photograph: Hare & Hounds Kings Heath

8. Hare & Hounds

A bit further out from the city centre, in Kings Heath, Hare and Hounds has become somewhat of a cult pitstop for both locals and music lovers from further afield. While the pub has retained its classic layout and Art Nouveau tiling, the lounge is a neon-lit haven and its upstairs holds not one, but two music venues that have seen many a great touring act grace its stages. It also holds the honour of having hosted the debut gig from Birmingham music legends UB40 back in 1979.

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9. The Old Crown

Established in 1368, the aptly named Old Crown is a stunning Grade II-listed heritage building in the bustle of Digbeth high street, right next to the Custard Factory. Trivia: Queen Elizabeth I stayed here in 1575 on her journey back from Kenilworth Castle, and while this is still an option, the main draw is its great outdoor space and street food that see it packed with local creatives every day of the week.

The Canal House
Photograph: The Canal House

10. The Canal House

Birmingham is well known for its extensive canal system, and whilst Brindley Place and Mailbox host much of the fun, on the opposite side of the water sits The Canal House. A vibrant pub with generous food portions, it positively hums on a warm summer’s day with its canalside outdoor space and live jazz musicians. And if it gets Presidential approval (one Bill Clinton had a pint on the balcony), it's worth a round to make up your own mind.

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Flight Club
Photograph: Flight Club

11. Flight Club

What happens in Flight Club stays in Flight Club, one would presume, yet the Birmingham pub has had an admirable word-of-mouth trajectory since it first opened in 2019. Bringing darts and socialising to the 21st century with its patented – and highly accurate – dart-tracking technology, the game is made simpler with a computerised scoring system that means you can chow down and catch up without having to keep an eye on any tricksters in your group. With counterparts in London, Manchester and Chicago so far, Birmingham has drawn a lucky straw by giving this place a home.

The Lost & Found
Photograph: The Lost & Found

12. The Lost & Found

At the top corner of Bennetts Hill, The Lost and Found is a pub with a period twist of a very different kind. The fact it was once a bank accounts for the overall grandness of the building (as well as a second secret room that’s available for hire), but the Victorian botanical theme was inspired by explorer Hettie G. Watson. The pub captures her sense of adventure with its sumptuous decor, brilliant food and undeniably lush (and potent) cocktails.

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The Old Contemptibles
Photograph: The Old Contemptibles

13. The Old Contemptibles

Back in Snow Hill’s business district, and The Old Contemptibles is another pub packed full of history. Named after its famed First World War counterparts, the classic building is all high ceilings, stained glass, oak furniture and a menu full of pub favourites. With a welcoming and friendly atmosphere, it is a favourite of locals and passers-through for a swift pint or a more leisurely afternoon.

The Shakespeare
Photograph: The Shakespeare

14. The Shakespeare

The Shakespeare is admirably small but beloved of its regulars; stroll from the station to the high street and you’ll find this place is always busy. Its cosy nature makes it a great place to stop for a bit of undisturbed quality conversation, while the bar food comprises reliable dishes that go down a treat with a pint.

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15. Head of Steam

Swing back to Temple Street and opposite Flight Club you’ll find another comparative newbie: the Head of Steam. From the giant cogs on the window front to the ones mounted on the ceiling, the venue clearly takes its industrial aesthetic seriously, and it also boasts an extensive collection of UK and international ales. With kebabs, burgers and pizza on the menu, plus a handful of faithful cocktails and ciders, those who aren’t fans of beer or IPA are well catered for too. And if that still doesn’t float your boat? Well, you can always bring your dog.

Dead Wax Digbeth
Photograph: Dead Wax Digbeth

16. Dead Wax Digbeth

Tucked in the backstreets of Digbeth, not far from the Custard Factory, sits Dead Wax. Previously named Wagon and Horses, this compact corner pub was renovated by Laine Brew Co. back in 2019 and has gone from strength to strength since. If you’re a music fan, be sure to make the pilgrimage; while it hosts gigs upstairs and DJs in its sizeable courtyard, its USP is the 4,000-strong vinyl collection that DJs dig into in the bar all day, every day. Add in a craft beer and a stonebaked pizza and you’re sorted.

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Not all that far from Brindley Place and the Barclaycard Arena, the former canalside pub has been transformed into a gin distillery and bar. The venue’s Roundhouse gin that is perfect for sipping on its cobbled courtyard on a hot summer weekend with your lamb shawarma.

18. The Sun on the Hill

If you and your mates can’t make a decision on where to grab a drink, The Sun on the Hill is always a safe bet. Right on Bennetts Hill, just by The Lost & Found, this pub is a solid shout for post-work drinks and burgers, with DJs and a buzzing atmosphere on the weekend.

And if it’s tip-top mixology you’re after?

The 15 best bars in Birmingham
  • Bars and pubs

These brilliant bars have shaken up the local drinking scene like a killer martini. With a host of new and exciting venues opening, there’s never been a better time to grab a serious cocktail or a small-batch artisanal gin in the city.

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