I’ve got to admit, beer’s growing on me. I don’t know whether it’s my taste that’s changing, or the whole scene around beer that’s turning me towards it as a tipple. When I was at uni I worked in a pub where we served ‘proper beer’ and it was packed with old gruff ale-loving men. Not a student haunt at all, and if I hadn’t worked there it’s highly unlikely I’d have ever set foot in there (or I wouldn’t have remembered because it was pretty much the last pub on the famous Otley Run!).
But it’s not like that anymore. Beer is no longer the preserve of old men in dark, dingy pubs. Beer is cool. And so are its venues. Purecraft Bar & Kitchen, which I featured on the blog not all that long ago, demonstrates that good quality beer can come hand in hand with good food and nice surroundings that are as attractive to 30-something G&T-lovers like me as they are to hardened adorers of ale. So when I was invited to the launch event of Sutton Coldfield’s latest addition, Brewhouse & Kitchen, complete with its own microbrewery, I had high hopes that it would cement my growing love of this new breed of beer-focused bars.
The small independent pub group has got branches across the country, from Bournemouth to Gloucester, and now Sutton where it’s got a prime spot in a rather impressive building that I’m told used to be a Turkish restaurant. Brewhouse talks big about its on-site brewery and pairings of craft beers with classic pub food, boasting ‘a tantalising pub experience with a modern twist’. Big words hey.
For the launch night, we were promised the chance to try some of the pairings, enter a few competitions, and generally check out the Brewhouse family’s latest addition. On a rainy evening it was certainly an attractive spot and I imagine a great place for an after-work drink or a bite to eat. The vats on show as you walk in and the indoor fire-pit are both eye-catching features that certainly do place it apart from your average boozer. Think kind of industrial crossed with cosy.
Menus in hand, we got stuck in to see whether any beers took our fancy. They may be what is effectively a ‘chain’, but Brewhouse are keen to make their establishments unique in their own special way. This means local links, and my pal (a Sutton girl herself) and I were pleased to see an effort to draw on some of the local area’s history and heritage.
I started off by tucking into a half of ‘004 Oaks’ – a golden ale made as a tribute to Bond hero Sir Roger Moore, once a resident of nearby Four Oaks. I tend to prefer a pale ale and this went down a treat, nice and light and fresh.
As the pairings started, the 004 Oaks was teamed with some onions rings and cod goujons – light snacks to go with the light refreshing pale ale. I had a quick squizz at the menu and it has some nice classics on there as well as a few different dishes. Apparently the 004 Oaks goes well with the chicken, ham and leek pie or the New Yorker Burger, both of which sounded good, but not as impressive as the ‘Beer Can Chicken’ – a whole chicken that zoomed past us on its way to a table, and looked rather delicious, I’ve got to say.
The Marksman is all about the tale that explains Sutton’s link to the Tudor Rose. It relates to the story of Henry VIII being saved from a wild boar in Sutton Park by a marksman who happened to be a beautiful young girl. He later presented her with the Tudor Rose which became the emblem of Sutton Coldfield apparently.
Our final treat was a slightly scary looking porter, served up with a chocolate brownie. I’ve got a friend who loves a slurp on stout or porter but I’ve got to say I’ve never really got on with it. A sip’s okay, maybe two, but there’s no way I can drink a whole glass. Having said that, it did go rather well with the brownie, probably because they’re the only two things that can stand up to each other in the richness stakes.
The culmination of the evening (since we didn’t win any of the competitions) was the official naming of the brewery. Special guest, Sutton local and veteran Olympic hockey player Jane Sixsmith was on hand to declare ‘Brew to a Kill’, as it was named on the night, officially open.
Beers tasted and snacks eaten, I left eager to come back and try the menu for real on a normal night or day. It seems like a nice place to wile away a few hours, have some nice food, and try a few beers. I found myself quite at home perched on a stool next to the crackling fire-pit, while a whole range of people seemed to be enjoying a nice Thursday night at Brewhouse, from couples to groups of lads and even a gang of beautifully-coiffed older ladies on what looked to be their weekly catch-up.
For the beer lovers, Brewhouse does masterclasses involving tutored tastings followed by a burger, as well as a brewery experience day where you can brew, taste, and eat to your heart’s content for a whole day – as well as taking home a mini key of beer. If you’re a beer fan this might be for you. Me, I’ll stick to the Beer Can Chicken.
I was invited as a guest to the launch of Brewhouse and Kitchen in Sutton Coldfield. I wasn’t asked to write a positive review.