Black Iris Bitter - a proper old-skool, 'real man' type Bitter, which makes no concessions to fruity transatlantic flavour, just a wallop of grizzled UK hops and chiselled sandpaper malt. It was alright though. Interestingly enough, having tried all five beers from this newish Derby-based microbrewer, I am now their top rater in the World. Consider personal trumpet thoroughly parped.
Second was a new beer from Oakham - always a pleasant sight to greet a weatherbeaten beer fan, upon entering a boozer. This one, entitled 'Preacher' was a suntanned bronze colour, with a luscious aroma of tropical fruit. Taste was right upfront in the 'delicious mango and passionfruit' department and as balanced as my current account* throughout. Really good from Oakham. As always. Which got me thinking....
How many of the top, top UK breweries' products actually make it to Birmingham on a regular basis?
Oakham - We are lucky to have one of their own pubs serving all their best stuff, plus their beers always make it to the Welly.
Crouch Vale - they pop up in the Welly, fairly frequently.
Moor - Nicholsons carry them, so four chances for their beers to appear in the City centre.
Brewdog - no bar in Birmingham as yet, and their stuff hardly ever pops up on cask, except occasionally in the Bleagle. Nowhere in Brum serves craft beer on keg, so we are fairly scuppered for Brewdog generally. Their bottles make it to Stirchley Wines; as do >>>
The Kernel - no pubs in Brum take these bottled masterpieces. Thankfully Stirchley Wines are doing Birmingham proud.
Magic Rock - to my knowledge, none of their beers have ever appeared in a Birmingham pub, which is nothing short of a scandal, given their reputation as one of the UK's hottest new brewers. Thankfully Stirchley Wines have just picked up their bottled range (are you noticing pattern here?).
Summer Wine - they very (very) occasionally pop up in the Welly - I've sampled them there twice.
Thornbridge - pretty good coverage with Post Office Vaults, Wellington and the Nicholsons' pubs taking them. Unfortunately no one serves their keg efforts, so we have never seen Versa, Italia or Kill Your Darlings, to name but three.
Dark Star - these appear in the Welly with almost acceptable frequency.
Brodies - never glimpsed in Brum.
Redwillow - spotted twice in the Welly by my good self.
Marble - occasional visitors to the Welly, but a full bottled range is at... wait for it....
Bristol Beer Factory - not spotted in any Brum pubs for a good wee while, luckily someone has some bottles for your delectation.
Hard Knott - Stirchley only.
Hawkshead - interestingly enough, Wetherspoons are your best bet for these Cumbrian beauties.
Gargoyles - The Anchor is your best bet to try these Devonian treats on cask, which is the same story for...
Steel City - only spotted in the Spanker.
Camden Town - only Nicholsons have sported a beer from this lot so far, but then again, they are primarily keg only.
Buxton - yawn, I'm boring myself now ... these are spotted very occasionally in the Welly, but Stirchley take their bottled range.
As a City, the end of term report reads "Must do better". Beer fans like you and me must request these brewers' products and our band of dedicated landlords must seek them out.
*perhaps more so actually.