The most iconic pubs in Birmingham include some of the city’s well-preserved public houses where drinks are enjoyed in characterful settings. As a city known for its major role in the Industrial Revolution and which was once named “the first manufacturing town in the world”, Birmingham has a remarkable heritage, much of which remains in good condition. Its great collection of English pubs is part of that.

    Whether by remaining faithful to the original or by blending the classic and contemporary, these traditional pubs in Birmingham present excellent food, drinks, and company. Check out the top selections of the well-known British institution in England’s 2nd largest city below.


    The Old Contemptibles

    A streetcorner Victorian pub full of vintage charm

    The Old Contemptibles is a classic pub and venerable Birmingham institution, located a stone’s throw from the city’s Snow Hill railway station in the heart of town. From the imposing facade to the high ceilings and the oak panelling throughout, it’s clear from the off that this is one of the most iconic pubs in Birmingham.

    Besides serving everything from locally-produced ales to a great variety of international spirits, The Old Contemptibles also serves up classic British fare such as fish and chips, pies, and more. Packed with character, this is one of the places in the city centre where locals and tourists flock to for a taste and feel of traditional Birmingham.

    Location: 176 Edmund St, Birmingham B3 2HB, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 12 pm to 11 pm, Sunday from 12 pm to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)12 1200 3310


    photo by Aidan Sammons (CC BY 2.0) modified


    The Woodman

    A Birmingham pub that’s retained its Victorian charm

    The Woodman is a recently restored Victorian pub in the heart of Birmingham. This popular spot on New Canal Street is every inch the British boozer of yesteryear, with its original tiles, plenty of wood panelling, and a great selection of rare ales.

    There is a twist, though. The Woodman is run with an eco-friendly ethos, meaning everything from the ales to the burgers is locally sourced where possible. What’s more, staff and customers alike are encouraged to do all they can to minimise their carbon footprint.

    Location: New Canal St, Birmingham B5 5LG, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 12 pm to 10 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)12 1643 4960


    photo by Geni (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    The Old Joint Stock

    A central pub with a glamorously restored interior

    The Old Joint Stock is a lovingly renovated Victorian pub in the centre of Birmingham. A grandiose affair with soaring ceilings, the place has a huge island bar and features oak panelling throughout.

    For years a fixture in Birmingham city centre, The Old Joint Stock is today an altogether trendier affair with homemade pies, craft ales, and even a theatre room. Showcasing local acts like comedians, musicians and much more, their schedule is busy throughout the year with headline shows taking place at weekends.

    Location: 4 Temple Row W, Birmingham B2 5NY, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm, Sunday from 12 pm to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)12 1200 1892


    photo by Mark (CC BY 2.0) modified


    The Sutton Park

    A classic pub with good food and a great variety of drinks

    The Sutton Park is a traditional local pub and hotel in the town of Sutton Coldfield, which lies just north of Birmingham city centre. The pub offers a wide selection of beers from the local region and beyond, as well as cocktails and over a dozen freshly prepared selections from its gin parlour.

    Established in the mid-19th century, the pub features an original facade that’s still largely intact, so it’s not short on character. Inside, things take on a slightly more modern look. Even so, the food menu, offering British classics like pie and mash or fish and chips, remains very much traditional.

    Location: 1 Boldmere Rd, Sutton Coldfield B73 5UY, UK

    Open: Daily from 12 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)12 1362 4951


    photo by Elliott Brown (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    The Old Crown

    The oldest pub in Birmingham and one of the city’s best

    The Old Crown is a traditional pub that lives up to its name as Birmingham’s oldest secular structure. Dating all the way back to 1368, most of the present-day pub was constructed in the early 16th century, lending the whole place a distinctly Tudor aesthetic – it has a black-and-white timber exterior and low ceilings throughout.

    Far from just a tourist attraction, the Grade II-listed building is a working, award-winning pub that offers a wide range of national and international drinks to a young and trendy clientele. The food here is a notch above standard pub fare, taking its cues from British classics that go perfectly with a locally brewed pint or cocktail.

    Location: 188 High St, Birmingham B12 0LD, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 12 pm to 12 am, Friday–Saturday from 12 pm to 1 am, Sunday from 12 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)12 1248 1368


    photo by Oosoom (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    The Victoria

    A zany city-centre pub with unique decor and a hip vibe

    The Victoria is a cool spot that blends classic English pub aesthetics with modern flair in Birmingham’s busiest central district. Even though its decor is embellished in colourful cartoon art and it attracts a young and trendy crowd, The Victoria remains faithful to the key aspects that make a great traditional pub.

    Oak-panelled walls are decked out with tattoo designs here, while the cocktail menu is good enough to compete with any of the city’s swankier bars. Craft beers are plentiful both on draught and by the bottle while the food jumps on the luxe-junk bandwagon to great effect. Note that it usually gets packed on weekend evenings.

    Location: 48 John Bright St, Birmingham B1 1BN, UK

    Open: Wednesday–Thursday from 4 pm to 11 pm, Friday from 4 pm to 12 am, Saturday from 12 pm to 12 am, Sunday from 12 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)12 1633 9439


    photo by Elliott Brown (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Shakespeare Inn

    A cosy spot with Victorian decor

    Shakespeare Inn sits in the Ladywood area just outside the centre of Birmingham and is very much walkable from the heart of the city. The first thing you notice about this pub is the imposing façade. It looks much the same as it did almost 2 centuries ago, with original brickwork and arched windows.

    Inside, Shakespeare Inn remains a study in Victorian elegance, with oak-panelling throughout and many of the original features intact. The best way to soak up the ambience of this fine traditional Birmingham pub is at a cosy booth or table with a pick from their large selection of cask, draught, and bottled beers.

    Location: 31 Summer Row, Birmingham B3 1JJ, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 12 pm to 11 pm, Sunday from 12 pm to 8 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)12 1236 8702


    photo by Elliott Brown (CC BY 2.0) modified


    The Rose Villa Tavern

    A unique approach to the traditional pub

    The Rose Villa Tavern is a trendy spot in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter that blends classic British pub aesthetics with something altogether more modern. Yes, there are original stained-glass windows and leather sofas throughout, yet they’re offset by hand-painted murals, Scandinavian-inspired furniture, and even a red telephone box.

    With such quirky decor, it makes sense that the food and drink served at The Rose Villa Tavern should be equally unique. With their own takes on American classics – think dirty burgers, wings, and more – this Birmingham pub also serves a solid line of original and classic cocktails, as well as a selection of classic draught ales.

    Location: 172 Warstone Ln, Birmingham B18 6JW, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday from 12 pm to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday from 12 pm to 11 pm, Sunday from 12 pm to 9 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)12 1236 7910


    photo by Tony Hisgett (CC BY 2.0) modified


    The Clifden

    An artsy spot with a warm ambience and tasty British cuisine

    The Clifden is a lively and modern pub in Newtown, just north of the centre of Birmingham. From the modern, quirky signage out front, it’s immediately clear that this is far from the average Birmingham pub. The Clifden is a hangout for students, artsy types, and other creatives in Birmingham. Its fittings and windows feature music, film, and pop-culture-inspired decor.

    As one of Birmingham’s best hipster hot spots, The Clifden serves up a slightly more unusual selection of beers, with Belgian favourites like Vedett on draught. The food is a refreshing take on classic British fare, with their Sunday roast reportedly among the very best in the city.

    Location: 34 Great Hampton St, Birmingham B18 6AA, UK

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 12 pm to 11 pm, Friday and Saturday from 12 pm to 2 am

    Phone: +44 (0)12 1523 7515


    photo by Elliott Brown (CC BY 2.0) modified


    The Jekyll & Hyde

    An offbeat city-centre spot serving over 80 gins

    The Jekyll & Hyde takes the classic Victorian aesthetic beloved by so many of Birmingham’s traditional pubs and adds its own dash of magic. Original features like wood-panelling and exposed brick have been lovingly restored, while there’s plenty of quirky art on the walls and Alice in Wonderland-inspired nods throughout.

    This city-centre pub, cocktail bar, and gin parlour serves an enormous range of gins in a near-endless variety of styles. Among the top selections is the Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb & Ginger served with London Essence’s ginger ale or classic Indian tonic and garnished with cinnamon. There’s also the Mad Hatter’s Tea that serves 2, featuring the Edinburgh Gin Rhubarb & Ginger served with Earl Grey, apple, lemon, and peach.

    Location: 8 Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham B4 6BJ, UK

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday from 4 pm to 10 pm, Friday–Saturday from 12 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)12 1236 0345


    photo by Elliott Brown (CC BY 2.0) modified

    James Connolly | Guest Writer

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