Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is full of amazing independent businesses, and there’s far more to find than the obvious jewellers. You can find quirky bars, fine dining, and even a brewer. The fabulous Whisky Club hosted a crew of bloggers to Taste the Quarter and find out more about some wonderful Jewellery Quarter Independents.
First, we heard from Burning Soul, a JQ based brewer and tap room. These guys are making some seriously amazing craft beers (and bottling the lot themselves) and working hard to boost Brum’s reputation as a beer producer. We sampled their Meadowsweet Saison. A Saison is a farmhouse style beer, and this one definitely tasted of meadows, with background sweetness and a scent of summer grass. I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I enjoyed this, and it was lovely to hear Brum’s beer spoken about with such excitement.
Look out for upcoming partnerships with other big beer names…
You may remember that I’ve written about The Vanguard before, and owner Sam’s no bullshit approach to cocktails. He’s also a bit of a mead expert, and bought a local-ish option for us to try. The Shire Meadery is based in Wales, but the owner actually lives in Bearwood, so we can definitely claim this as a Birmingham mead. Their mead is a lot less sweet than I was expecting. It’s light, and summery, with a floral flavour.
Sam also brought for us a Kanpai to Sakura cocktail, which uses a Cherry Blossom syrup that Sam makes himself, as he couldn’t find anything he liked available in the UK. The syrup adds big floral notes, almost like a stronger version of Elderflower, I thought. Very perfumery, and unusual, but tasty.
The Wilderness are all about a fine dining experience without the snobbery. Think a modern British tasting menu, served in a dark room while loud rock music plays. That’s The Wilderness. You probably know them for shouting at people on TripAdvisor.
Co-owner Jack joined us to give us a sneak insight into upcoming new ventures, including a new home for The Wilderness sometime next year, a new restaurant opening by the end of this year (with lower price point), and most excitingly, upcoming bar Nocturnal Animals which sounds like it’s going to be the venue for decadence and debauchery. I hear rumour of cocktail vending machines.
He also brought with him a very dry Gin Martini, which was delicious and well-crafted. Each drink was spritzed with a little perfume that gave the drink an incredible smokey smell, although I found this didn’t linger long, or add much to the drink.
If you think of wine in Birmingham, you probably think of Connolly’s. Family owned, and run since 1976, this independent wine merchant has two stores, one in Solihull, and one in the Jewellery Quarter. The JQ branch is also home to Arch 13, a wine bar, which they decided to open as, as owner Chris put it, they had a beautiful railway arch venue, and a spare sommelier in the family in the shape of daughter Abbi,
Chris had brought three very different wines for us to try. We started with a Domaine de Pellehaut Blanc, which is a blend of Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, and Folle Blanche. The flavour was well-balanced, with punchy fruit, but a note of acidity to keep things fresh.
Next, a natural wine, from the marvellously named Elemental Bob. We tried the Cosmic Hand White, but I have to admit, it wasn’t for me. Definitely divisive around the table, some loved it, whereas others described it as ‘swampy’. I thought it tasted like very farmyardy cider, which is not really what I want in a wine. I’m not convinced by natural wines just yet…
Finally, we tried Weingut Wieninger Wiener Trilogie, a very drinkable red. It had lots of red fruit flavours, with a little spiciness. It was excellent, and I think my favourite of the three.
The whisky Club
Finally, it was time for whisky. Amy had two for us to try. We started with Edradour 10 Year Old Distillery Edition, which tasted a bit like Christmas cake, with notes of orange peel, syrup and almonds. Very smooth and enjoyable.
Our evening finished with Bowmore Black Rock, which is an sherry cask single malt. I like a sherry cask, as I find it adds pleasant sweetness and some fruity flavour. This was a little smokey, but without the peat punch I expect from Islay whiskies!
This was a great ‘tour’ of some of the lovely Jewellery Quarter independents, working hard to bring good and drink to the city. Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be propping up the bar at The Whisky Club.
Disclosure: This was a planned blogger event, and all drinks were complementary in exchange for social coverage. I was not obliged to write a positive review of anything we tried.