British summers can be unpredictable at the best of times but all the more reason to know the best sun traps and where to dart when the sun starts shining.
If you’re stuck in Brum, you couldn’t be further away from the ocean or a nice beach, so the next best thing? A cool beer garden or sun terrace to while away the day.
Brum has a great selection of watering holes, and in this article we suggest just a few of the cooler beer gardens and sun terraces around the city. We have selected large, small, cool and traditional outdoor spaces which we feel are worth checking out when those rays break through and you’re in need of a refreshing cold dink (updated 26th Aug 2016).
Birmingham City Centre
The Fiddle & Bone, Sherborne Wharf. The Fiddle & Bone has a long history of live music, previously closed down due to unsympathetic noise complaints, this traditional gastro boozer has since reopened and hosts one of the best canal side beer gardens in the region. With delicious home cooked food, quality real ales and selected wines. Live music and entertainment, this iconic waterside building is a great place to soak up the sun.
The Wellington, Bennetts Hill. One of Birmingham’s most famous and long established real ale and craft ale pubs situated right in the heart of the city. The ‘Wellie’ is just off New Street and this old Victorian pub has a fantastic selection of real ales which are frequently changing. The elevated beer garden is a great little green oasis and gets very busy with office workers and real ale enthusiasts.
The Jekyll & Hyde. Part of the ‘Bitters ‘n Twisted ‘ family, this small and quirky bar has an arty vibe with weekend DJs, a cinema club and Victorian gin parlour upstairs. The beer garden is compact but big enough to accommodate a small crowd of revelers. The artwork around the walls and inside provide something unique not just in Brum but for the UK. The cocktails are well worth the ten minute walk down Corporation St from city centre, or a two minute tram to Bull Street from Grand Central.
The Bureau Bar. The Bureau Bar is one of the city’s hidden secrets. It looks more like an office from the outside, but inside this stunning old Victorian building is a superb cocktail bar with a touch of opulence. Located in the centre of Birmingham’s business district, The Bureau boasts a compact rooftop terrace and beer garden which can be accessed by lift of the spiral staircase. If you’re looking for some interested rooftop views in a swanky location this should be on your list.
Browns, Spiceal Street, Bullring. The Bullring is a well known sea of large chain restaurants, and although Browns falls into that category of large chain style eateries, the location and design makes this bar a bit of an oasis in this busy shopping district. Browns restaurant & bar is situated in the ultra futuristic ‘Spiceal Street’ building. Cocktails, wine, spirits and the usual beers can be enjoyed on two levels of outdoor seating, the top terrace is great for families or large groups with table service available.
Gosta Green. A typical student pub inside a beautiful old Victorian boozer down on Aston’s university campus. The beer garden is quite extensive. There are two large seating areas in the back courtyard and possibly Birmingham’s only outdoor pool table (under a shelter). This is a ‘Scream’ themed pub so expect some BIG discounts. The real ale is fairly extensive and well looked after.
Sacks of Potatoes. If you’ve taken the ten minute walk from the city centre to the bottom Corporation Street to visit the The Jekyll & Hyde or Gosta Green, you may want to stop off at the old regular ‘Sacks of Potatoes’ on Aston University. There are always a great selection of real ales and ciders from around the UK with small quarter pint tasters available. The food is good standard pub grub and the outside seating overlooks a small park and is quite serene. There is also a small beer garden, but the best spot is out front where the ducks occasionally come to say hello.
Marco Pierre White’s, The Cube. The Cube is that great big architectural box at the canal-side end of the Mailbox. If you take the lift to the 25th floor you will find Marco Pierre White’s rooftop bar & terrace, the views are far reaching across the West Midlands. Entrance is free, but dress smart during the weekend. The main bar serves cocktails, spirits, and a limited selection of beer and cider on draft. If you turn right out of the lift you’ll find the Champagne bar with even more impressive views!
The Green Room Cafe Bar. In the heart of the Arcadian sits The Green Room Cafe & Bar. An old stalwart on the city’s bar scene and once home to Global Grooves record store, Green Room offers the usual bar style food & drink with an exposed outdoor seating area. People watching here is a fascinating sport, with the busy China Town, Gay Quarter and Entertainment District all on the bar’s doorstep, it’s a perfect spot to drink your green leaf tea or pint of lager and watch the world go by. Often the best place to catch the sun later in the day.
John Bright Street is an up and coming area of the city centre. You can find a host of bars with outdoor seating to chill with drinks, such as Cherry Reds, Brew Dog and Turtle Bay, but the best by far is The Stable Pizza Company. The Stable has a vast amount of ciders on tap and the outdoor seating area is now enclosed. A family friendly venue and lots of live music and DJs too (*picture credit Brum Hour)
Brindley Place Bars. Developed out of some of Brum’s oldest industrial wasteland, Brindley Place now boasts a large selection of very fine eateries, restaurants, galleries and most importantly, canal-side bars. There are several well established commercial chain style wine bars with pleasant outdoor seating such as Bank Bar & Restaurant and All Bar One. Canal-side bars such as The Pitcher & Piano (which has outdoor seating on two levels) are a popular alternative to Broad Street nearby. The Malt House is just across the water (with a great outdoor balcony) as is the Flapper Pub (a music venue where indie band, ‘The Editors’ first rose to fame).
Mailbox Canal-side Bars. The Mailbox is now a firm favourite on the city’s destination list when looking for a bite to eat or a drink. The development takes full advantage of its location next to the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Several bars and eateries provide a safe and relaxed space for diners catering for a variety of needs. Gas Street Social can be busy with occasional dance DJs and Penny Blacks has a perfect canal-side location with a great range of real ales, wines and cocktails.
Fleet Street Kitchen & Bar. Located just outside the city centre on Summer Row is the Fleet Street Kitchen. This cool restaurant serves up some fantastic food and even better cocktails down stairs in the basement, but venture outside through the restaurant and you can sit outside above the canal whilst sipping your pina coladas.
The Jewellery Quarter
The Lord Clifden. Few pubs in Brum can boast a dedicated beer garden full of greenery which is designed with DJs in mind. The Lord Clifden is part of the micro ‘Urban Art Bar’ (U.A.B.) chain in the city. With graffiti inspired artwork, vintage decor and a regular list of DJs spinning house, funk, soul, disco and balearic in the back courtyard, this busy gem of the Jewellery Quarter is really worth exploring, oh and the Sunday roasts here are legendary.
The Actress & Bishop. One of the city’s most established live music bars, The Actress & Bishop remains a solid indie venue with DJs and live musicians performing regularly and opening until late most nights of the week. The outside seating offers a perfect location to soak up the relaxed atmosphere of St Pauls Square, busy on weekends and more chilled during the week.
The Red Lion. Another of the U.A.B. pubs, this cool little boozer is tucked away in the heart of Jewellery Quarter and has some refreshing real ales on tap. The pub is music orientated with DJs and occasional events up stairs. The beer garden out back is small but a sneaky little hide-away and a perfect spot to enjoy the mid day sun.
The Rectory Bar. The Rectory is a unique restaurant and vibrant bar in a city centre location overlooking St Pauls church. The Rectory Bar & Restaurant in the calm oasis of St Paul’s Square on the edge of the historic Jewellery Quarter, is all about relaxed, sophisticated drinking and dining in stylish, modern surroundings. There is limited seating out front but a secluded court yard to the side provides a peaceful sun trap with a great selection of drinks on offer.
The Black Eagle, Hockley. Just as you start to head out of the Jewellery Quarter towards Smethwick there lies what is reputedly one of the Midlands finest real ale pubs. The Black Eagle is surrounded by factories, awkwardly parked cars and industrial units but don’t let that put you off. A regular winner of CAMRA awards this friendly little local has a smoking area and leafy little beer garden to tempt you outside, jump on the tram outside Grand Central and the nearest stop is just 100 metres from the pub.
The Button Factory. Situated in the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, The Button Factory (formerly Vertu Bar) has restored and extended one of the quarter’s traditional buildings. Serving food, real ales and good wine there is also a decent sized roof terrace with some great views of the surrounding historic buildings.
The Queens Arms. This great little boozer sits at the gateway to the Jewellery Quarter. Inside you can expect real ales and a cosy atmosphere, while out back lurks a cool little beer garden with T.V. and a distinct vintage feel complete with old cinema seats.
The Church Inn.There are only a hand full of rooftop beer gardens in the city, and this medium sized space above the Victorian Church Inn, Hockley, is ideal for an afternoon drink in the sun. It’s perfectly situated to soak up the rays until sun sets over what was once and possibly still is, the jewellery making capital of the world. The whole building has a very authentic feel with arty decor and some of the finest cocktails and ales served anywhere in the Midlands. Chefs take inspiration from New Orleans style soul food.
The Old Crown, Digbeth. Promoted as Birmingham’s oldest working pub, The Crown is a Jewell in the heart of industrial Digbeth and the Irish Quarter. Many improvements have taken place over the last year with a new innovative coffee club and some sumptuous pastries and pies on offer in a rustic ‘deli’ style. At long last this old coaching inn is having some much needed tlc to the interior, and one of the features worth checking out is the partly covered beer garden. A great pub with a big heart near to the Rainbow venues and Digbeth Dining Club.
The Spotted Dog. A fab old Irish boozer and a traditional one at that. This old pub has an authentic feel and often plays host to live music and other social events. This makes the list as it has a rather large covered beer garden which is suitable if you want to sit and drink outside when there’s a chance of rain, which is most often in the UK. Just go in for a drink anyway!
The Rainbow venues consist of: a great music pub with back courtyard, the cellar door club, side street/courtyard and the warehouse venue. The warehouse is mainly open weekends for various live music and house DJ events, but the most recent addition to this is the mezzanine & rooftop garden. Obviously you need to be attending an event to gain access to this rooftop space but what a perfect way to end a summers evening overlooking the city skyline with underground dance music as an accompanying sound track.
Harborne & Barnt Green
The Plough, Harborne. The Plough is run by Adam Johnson, formerly of Global Grooves and the legendary Circo Bar (pulled down for what is now the Radisson Hotel). This stylishly quirky pub is situated at the bottom of Harborne High Street and is a well loved and long established haunt for those in the know. The food menu is extremely popular with locally sourced produce, free tables can be hard to find on a weekend. It’s a quirky and cool vibe inside and out with a top notch refurbished beer garden. You have everything you need here in this cosy suburban boozer-cum-bar.
The Bell Inn, Harborne. Harborne is one of Brum’s leafiest suburbs and tucked away in a quiet corner is The Bell. This pub sits in a semi-rural location next to St Peters Church, in fact you would find it hard to believe you are in a city at all. The old country lane which leads to The Bell is surrounded by greenery, a cricket ground and the peaceful Grove Park is nearby. The Bell has a tiny bar serving a selection of wholesome real ales, but inside there is ample seating. On a sunny day, the large outside terrace overlooks an old bowling green (which is still in regular use) and St Peters Church overlooks the green. Possibly the most serene setting for a pint in the city.
The New Inn, Harborne. Another member of the ‘Bitters ‘n Twisted ‘ family is the New inn. There are plenty of seats on two sides of the pub and a large former bowling green which now hosts a pretty amazing village green on sunny days, very family friendly and popular for picnics.
The Junction. A busy Harborne pub with character. You’ll find some great ales, ciders, wines and spirits in this renovated town centre boozer, the beer garden is small and quaint.
The White Swan, Edgbaston. On the border between Harborne and Edgbaston sits the elegant White Swan, one of the city’s best kept secrets. Here you can enjoy the large outdoor garden area which compliments this well loved relaxed and historic Birmingham pub.
El Borracho de Oro, Edgbaston. Just a five minute walk from Five Ways train station, El Borracho is a superb Spanish themed Tapas restaurant and bar. The small garden out front is surprisingly peaceful and the Estrella on tap is unbeatable. Nearby, the Blue Piano and Highfield both have small beer garden so you can wobble around this part of town and lap up the rays quite easily.
The Barnt Green Inn. If you fancy a very short drive south of the city to rural north Worcestershire, Barnt Green and Alvechurch are host to some particularly lovely old world pubs, and perhaps the one with the finest beer garden is that of the Barnt Green Inn. An old coaching inn with wonky windows and a reasonable selection of real ales and wines, it’s hard not to fall in love with this ancient pub. It’s a mere five minute walk from Barnt Green train station too!
The Fighting Cocks. Beloved of Moseley’s colourful community, The Fighting Cocks has become somewhat of an icon in this trend-setting Birmingham suburb. Original 1800 period features are set against a contemporary design, providing a perfectly offbeat backdrop to the friendly banter drifting over from the bar. The beer garden is a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the front bar and Moseley High Street.
The Prince of Wales. Serving beer since 1861. Out front is the real ale bar, an old style boozer in the heart of Moseley with all the characters you would imagine propping up the bar. Then there is the fabulous Victorian cocktail bar and beyond this, a cigar shop, a wine stall, a beer garden, events marquee and a Hawaiian beach bar and lots of quirky events. See their other venture in Moseley, The Dark Horse for a small enclosed seating area out front – great for eating one of their delicious pizzas.
The Patrick Kavanagh. There is always something happening at The Patrick Kavanagh. If your after Comedy, Open Mic nights, Live music or Live Football it’s all regular fare at the Pat Kav and it’s also home to a small, shabby chic beer garden.
The British Oak, Stirchley. Taken on by the people behind the Prince of Wales and Dark Horse in Moseley, this beautiful old real ale pub has been brought up to date and sports one of the best beer gardens in the area. There is also a pavilion and lawn of the British Oak Bowling Club out back.
The Duke Inn, Sutton Coldfield is a rather posh royal suburb of Brum and believe it or not, it’s quite difficult to find a good pub to rival those in towns such as Harborne and Moseley, but the Duke would certainly be at home in either. A small pub inside, with a slightly London feel about it, but walk out back and the beer garden is extensive with benches and a friendly relaxed atmosphere, don’t forget the suncream!
The Station, Sutton Coldfield. Situated right next to Sutton Coldfield train station, The Station is right in the heart of Sutton Coldfield – a favourite haunt for regulars and a great destination pub for those special nights, including our famous comedy nights, live music and garden DJs. The beer garden is another great little spot to while away your afternoon when waiting for the train home.
The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath. Small enclosed seating area out front and a cosy little back courtyard.
Everyone has their own favourite pub and there are plenty of ace beer gardens on the periphery of Birmingham, in the Black Country, Solihull, Lichfield and the counties of Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire, but that would be another article in itself. Enjoy Brum in the sun.