Birmingham city centre has a dearth of decent boozers, considering it is supposedly our second city. So when a new pub, Post Office Vaults, sprang up I had to investigate. And any pub with a board outside its entrance proudly proclaiming “No Carling sold here” can only be a good thing.
Birmingham’s newest pub, Post Office Vaults is on Pinfold Street, opposite the main Post Office building and sandwiched between a Greggs and an “adult” shop. It’s tiny inside and is quite easy to miss – there’s a bright red entrance on Pinfold Street and also a back entrance on the busier New Street. Once you’ve entered from either street, you’ll go down a flight of stairs to the cellar bar which is adorned with pictures of old Birmingham and Belgian brewerania.
The clientele is predominantly male, but not in a Blue Oyster Bar way – there’s a healthy mix of students, workers, red-faced old men and the odd perv from next door, all with the common denominator that they like a good beer. The bar recently made the headlines in the local paper for selling a bottle of beer (a 9 litre bottle of Belgian St Feuillien) for £315, and there’s no doubt the place is a bit overpriced – in fact you’ll not pay a lot less than that on a night out here whatever you drink.
Bottles of my favourite, Bacchus Kriek, which sell for £2.30 at Morrisons cost a whopping £5.90 here. There are always different real ales, lagers and ciders on draught, but it’s bottled beers from the continent that the Vaults specialises in. When it opened, there was a choice of 50 bottles, now there are over 250 and the number is rising – it’s by far the biggest choice in Birmingham.
With no music or Sky Sports, the atmosphere can be a bit dead in the day so unless you fancy playing on the old fashioned bar billiards table, you’re left to good old conversation. And a few glasses of the excellent Kasteel Rouge cherry beer on draught (£4.20 a half-pint) should get the conversation moving nicely.
The pub opened just before Christmas, and at the prices they charge in a recession, I thought it wouldn’t last long. How wrong could I be – each time I’ve returned, there have been more and more customers as its reputation spreads by word of mouth and good reviews in The Daily Telegraph and The Birmingham Mail.
There’s no food sold here, but you are welcome to bring your own to the pub, handy with a Greggs next door. Plates, cutlery and sauces are provided.
Overall, it’s a first class boozer but like our Post Office, it’s a bit pricey.