Tap & Spile pub in Gas Street Basin, BirminghamTap & Spile pub in Gas Street Basin, Birmingham
Tap & Spile pub in Gas Street Basin, Birmingham

We went on a pub crawl around the oldest bars in Birmingham & were transported back to 1368

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We paid a visit to Birmingham’s oldest pubs for an ancient pub crawl in the city

Well, someone had to do it..

After BirminghamWorld’s article looking at the oldest pubs still in business in the city, we decided it was only right to follow it up by paying a visit to these historic watering-holes.

Myself and colleague Richard Gullick headed out across the city on a lovely Thursday afternoon to see just how these brilliant pubs have been in business for hundreds of years - and to try the ale, of coure.

First up, was The White Swan in Edgbaston. First opening in 1901, this Victorian pub is in a great location not too far from the city centre, offering a beautiful outdoor space and garden which was ideal for the hot weather on Thursday.

As to be expected, it was a relatively quiet Thursday evening. We had a pint each and sat outside in the spacious beer garden before heading off to the Brasshouse on Broad Street. The pub, which was originally built for the Birmingham Metal Company in the 1700s, is a great option for a drink and a meal at a good price. We ordered a couple of Amstels and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere inside before moving on to the next pub, which was The Shakespeare Inn, next to New Street.

The pub has a great choice of beers, and despite the pub being pretty busy, the service was quick and efficient. The pub was lively as the city centre started to get busier.

We then headed to Tap & Spile on Gas Street. The Grade II listed building which was built in the early 19th century has a great selection of beers and IPAs to choose from as well a great outdoor seating area next to the canal here enjoyed a couple of real ales.

Our pub crawl then took us to the Gunmakers Arms in the Gun Quarter - a proper real ale pub that first opened its doors in 1820. This is a brilliant boozer which has posters on the walls dedicated to Brummie musical icons Black Sabbath. Feeling a little merry at this point, we had to order some crisps and nuts to soak up some of the alcohol, before moving on to The Bull, which is just around the corner.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by some locals who took interest in our boozy venture. They told us that The Bull is their favourite pub in the city and it’s not hard to see why. The Price Street venue has the feel of a cost country pub, with its lovely old school interior and calm atmosphere.

The Old Contemptibles was next up. Situated in the city centre, this iconic establishment has a rich history. It first opened in 1880 as the Adelphi Wine Vaults and was later given its current name in 1953, honouring a group of First World War British Expeditionary Force who would regularly meet at the pub.

The pub was busy as people started to arrive for an after-work drink with the weekend well in sight. This is a pub with a lot of character, serving real ales and quality pub food right in the heart of the city on Edmund Street. Having actually been to The Old Contemptibles before, I can confirm it’s also a great location for a night out as it often has music and quiz nights.

We then finished the evening in Digbeth. Home to two of brum’s oldest boozers. First, we headed to the Anchor Inn, which dates back to 1797. It’s an iconic pub here just south of the city centre. Over the years it has won many CAMRA awards. Nowadays it’s a place of comfort to enjoy real ale, ciders, craft beers, wine, spirits and even cocktails.

Feeling a little merry as we headed into the evening, our pub crawl came to an end at The Old Crown - Birmingham’s oldest pub. The stunning building dates all the way back to 1368, standing tall throughout history, to what you see here before you today. It hosted Queen Elizabeth I on her way home from Kenilworth Castle in 1575, and fought off attacks from Prince Rupert in the Battle of Camp Hill in 1643. The Crown is still a city favourite for drinks and often has music and quiz nights on for punters to enjoy.

It’s a boozer rich in history, but is still extremely popular, often hosting music events and quiz night for Brummies to enjoy. So, after enjoying another pint of ale, we finally headed home following the pub crawl. If you’re looking for places to drink in the city centre, or just fancy some great pub grub, then these historic pubs are certainlyn the way to go.

Here’s a look at the oldest pubs in Birmingham in chronological order:

Myself and colleague Richard Gullick headed out across the city on a lovely Thursday afternoon to see just how these brilliant pubs have been in business for hundreds of years - and to try the ale, of coure.

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