Tucked away behind Snow Hill station is an independent brewery that should not be missed. Having only opened in November last year, North Taproom: Snow Hill in Birmingham is North Brewing Co.'s first venue outside of their Leeds hometown. However, given its popularity and buzzing atmosphere, you would think that this established hotspot has been on our city's scene for a lot longer.
Encased in glass and accented with neon white walls, this bar and eatery looked like some sort of futuristic space vessel - a far cry from the metal and old-fashioned wood typically associated with breweries. The inside was furnished fashionably using minimalist plants and artwork but, as our visit fell during the peak of the summer heatwave, we opted to go alfresco. Unfortunately, the outdoor furniture was not the most aesthetically pleasing, boasting an interesting assortment of blue and yellow plastic chairs, plus the wooden benches we sat on were rather uncomfortable after a while. Nevertheless, features such as the heat lamps for colder weather and the general cleanliness showed careful attention to detail.
As someone who is not the biggest fan of beer, I was a little apprehensive to approach the rather daunting bar full of taps. However, the staff were incredibly helpful, offering their best suggestions and letting us have some tasters before we made our final decision. In the end, we went with a pint each of Schofferhofer grapefruit (£4.60) and Schofferhofer watermelon and mint (£4.60); both of these fruity drinks were extremely refreshing with zesty and juicy tasting notes, making them strong contenders for the perfect summer tipple.
Despite North Brewing Co being known for its brilliant beers, the standout for us would have to be the bao buns. It was difficult to choose, given the array of options available, but in the end, we settled on the KFB (£5) and gochujang cauliflower (£5). Both the buttermilk chicken and battered cauliflower were deep-fried to a golden crisp - but the vegan dish was a little bland, with only salt and pepper seasoning, while the meat option had been doused in tangy Kerbside Kids Korean Cowboy sauce, offering bags of flavour.
The other nibbles we ordered were the veg gyoza (£5) and oyster mushroom bites (£5). What made the dumplings such a delight was the sweet chilli dipping sauce they came with; made up of chopped spring onions and toasted sesame seeds swimming in the sticky goodness, this condiment packed a real punch. And the deep-fried oyster mushrooms were just as good - but, they had been pretty sparing with the wasabi lime mayo, which was a shame given how much we loved it.
The only real letdown of the meal was the beef broth + pork (£5.50). Usually, it's served with shredded beef, but as they had run out, we were given pulled pork, which didn't really suit the rest of the dish. This wasn't helped by the watery (and fairly tasteless broth) or the thinness of the rice noodles either - they would have absorbed the broth better if they had been thicker. Nevertheless, it was warm and filling, and the soup was great for dipping our garlic salt fries (£3) in. For any garlic fiends out there, this side is a must.
The DesignMyNight Digest
All in all, I would describe North Taproom: Snow Hill as a bit of a gem. The food and drinks were unique, appetising and also pretty affordable. Plus, the staff had been lovely and friendly, creating a chilled atmosphere that was perfect for a quick catch-up or cheeky post-work relaxation. If you are looking for a new, cool spot to hang out in, then I would recommend paying this joint a visit.
💰 The damage: Around £20 per head.
📍 The location: Unit 1 Snow Hill Queensway, B4 6GH.
👌 Perfect for: Catching up with friends over a beer.
⭐ Need to know: It's all self-service; you order and collect at the bar.