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The Old Joint Stock, pub

The 15 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

By 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

Bacchus Bar
Photograph: Courtesy TripAdvisor.com

1. Bacchus Bar

Bars and pubs

Bacchus makes the grade thanks to its sheer wackiness. It’s one of those places that’s always fun to duck into with a visiting friend, if only to watch their reaction to the extravagant décor within. Dating back to 1398, this pub is tucked away on the basement floor of the Burlington Arcade, a complex of hotels and shops in the centre, and located on one of Birmingham’s oldest streets.

The Lord Clifden
Photograph: Courtesy TripAdvisor.com

2. The Lord Clifden

Bars and pubs

Split into three distinct areas, The Lord Clifden is that rare beast: a pub that works in any season and allows permanent locals and transient JQ-dwellers to exist in mutual harmony. We love long and celestial summer nights in the laid-back surrounds of the Clifden’s garden. With guest DJs, table tennis, a seasonal BBQ and the all-important bar, you’ll find yourself leaving hours after you intended. 

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3. 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. 

4. The Anchor Inn

Bars and pubs

Welcome to the year-long beer festival that never stops. A familiar feature in CAMRA guides, The Anchor stocks a mind-boggling number of regularly rotating beers, ales (with a particular speciality in hard-to-find English traditional ales), draught ciders and perries. The Anchor is big on organic, so expect oodles of choice in that department, too.  

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The Bristol Pear, pub
Photograph: Sal Maxuda

5. The Bristol Pear

Bars and pubs

Bargain beers and burgers abound at this University of Birmingham staple. As likely to be busy on a Wednesday afternoon as at the weekend, this pub offers hotly contested pool tables, footie-filled plasmas and alcoves big enough to hide from both if it’s a quieter pint you had in mind. 

The Church Inn, pub
Photograph: Sal Maxuda

6. The Church Inn

Bars and pubs

This Louisiana-themed establishment calls itself ‘a pub with a twist’ and takes inspiration from the soulful, laid-back culture of New Orleans and Cajun country. The atmosphere is chilled out and sophisticated, and the décor is charmingly vintage. New Orleans classics dominate the cocktail menu. Try the Mint Julep, a refreshing bourbon and mint mix that’s the ultimate Deep South cooler. 

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The Fighting Cocks, pub
Photograph: Sal Maxuda

7. The Fighting Cocks

Bars and pubs

A stalwart of Moseley’s zippy high street, The Fighting Cocks boasts a happy union of contemporary art, 19th-century features and an all-important beer garden. Choose from 15 or so speciality beers, lagers and ciders or four real ales. The Cocks does a great job of sourcing unusual guest ales, but, as the sign says, when it’s gone, it really is gone – so there’s your excuse to come back ASAP.

8. The High Field

Bars and pubs

This classic white villa just outside the city centre is home to a smart bar, a substantial restaurant and multiple outdoor spaces. Try the Grand Gin as an aperitif or your just-because refresher. A large measure of Langley’s No. 8 is served with plenty of ice, fruit, juniper berries and a premium tonic of your choice and the results are as tart as they are tasty. 

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9. The Junction

Restaurants

The Junction is everything a neighbourhood boozer should be. Myriad regularly changing real ales, board games aplenty, a Sunday roast as good as your mother used to make and a decent crowd any night of the week give you little reason to leave. Housed in an iconic Victorian building, the Junction is also a serious player when it comes to Harborne’s increasingly competitive Saturday brunch scene. 

The Old Joint Stock
Photograph: Courtesy TripAdvisor.com

10. The Old Joint Stock

Theatre

Built in 1862 and designed by Julius Alfred Chatwin (who also contributed to the design of St. Philip’s Cathedral opposite), the grade II-listed Old Joint Stock started out as a parson’s library before being turned into the Birmingham Joint Stock Bank. This eye-catching building now houses both a stylish bar that attracts suited financial workers and a small black box studio. 

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The Rose Villa Tavern
Photograph: Courtesy TripAdvisor.com

11. The Rose Villa Tavern

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 JQ outpost. 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.

12. The Victoria

Bars and pubs

A serious boozer in the week and gloriously raucous come the weekend, The Victoria is our city-centre party pub of choice. Start things off with the resident real ale, The Victoria EPA, or one of three regularly rotating guest ales (think Thornbridge, Otley, Offbeat). And if the night is going that way, launch yourself into the recently revamped and suitably shiny Victoria Book of Cocktails, which is full of punchy, flavour-filled concoctions. 

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13. The Village

Restaurants British

Country kitsch is given a rambunctious lesson in urban living at The Village, the chameleon of Moseley. Date night? Book a table at the restaurant, then cosy up in deep sofas by the log burner for a night cap. Impromptu catch-up with pals? Grab a couple of bar stools and some pints of Mad Goose IPA. Hangover to sort out? Grab one of the large squidgy booth areas and choose from brunch or some top-notch cakes.

14. The Wellington

Bars and pubs

One of Birmingham’s stalwart pubs, The Wellington is simple, unpretentious and stocks an impressive range of craft beers and real ales. The Welly, as locals affectionately call it, is at the top of Bennett’s Hill, a street branching off from the city centre core and leading up to the Colmore Row area. With a number of bars and restaurants in the area, it’s a good place to duck into on an evening bar crawl. 

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The White Swan, pub
Photograph: Sal Maxuda

15. The White Swan

Bars and pubs

Comfort food of the most indulgent kind dominates at this self-styled pub and restaurant. Sink-into-me-and-never-leave seating coupled with roaring log fires and moody lighting make the White Swan a great pick for a winter session. Drinks-wise, there’s a wide selection of ales, world beers and wines by the glass or bottle.

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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