Issue 273
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We've got a list of things we want to achieve — it's a pretty concise list. First up: brew a beer. And at number two: appear on 90s kids TV show Fun House. And being as Pat Sharp pulled the shutters down on that particular shop in 1999, we're kind of stacking the odds against ourselves there. But we're as high as a multicoloured, oversized kite to be able to say that together with one of Brum's best breweries and best pubs, we have indeed made a beer. A beer that you can drink tonight.
Attending your first brew day? Pro-tip: don't arrive hungry or wearing Uggs. There's water and steam and grain everywhere and thank all the hoppy lords, that lovely lot from Burning Soul Brewing Company have got spare wellies, and the Pint Shop have brought Krispy Kremes. On today's brewsheet for this three-way collab? A hazy, hoppy American session IPA — the sort of beer Burning Soul is known for selling out and Pint Shoppers are known for slurping with intent.

In terms of flavour, Richard from Burning Soul tells us that the grain you pick is "the backbone of the beer". And we're fittingly using a combination of three — otter extra pale, wheat and oats — all British, all from old school malt masters, Crisp, and all having their next life as horse feed to avoid waste. Soaking for sixty minutes, clever little enzymes convert the starch in the grain to sugar and carbs and a sweet solution (or "wort") is the output — this is the basis of our brew.
"Making beer is actually mainly cleaning up and waiting around" Richard tells us. And it turns out, he's right. After we've extracted all the wort we can from the soaked grains, a super special hops combo is added to the solution for seasoning and it's boiled up (above, left). Meanwhile, we dig out the used grain with a shovel, then actually get inside the mash tun to clean it (above, right). Then, we wait — an excellent thing to do when you're in a brewery that's also a tap house.

Approximately four pints and two donuts later, the solution is cooled and American yeast added to begin fermentation and provide that bitterness you're expecting. Ten minutes before the finish line, dry hops joins the party and is the cause of that pungent aroma distinctive of American Pales. As we all move to toast what's bound to be a tripartite triumph of a brew it dawns on us that we've failed to complete our single official job for the day — the beer has no name.
All Pint Shop collabs have music-related titles. Previous local creations include Blackberry Sabbath with Birmingham Brew Co and Original Pint Shop Material, another Burning Soul creation. Unable to agree on any of our longlist, including (curls up lip) Blue Suede Choose, what we could all agree was that we really really like beer and we really really like each other. And at some undocumented hour, Split Decision was shaken on as the beer's official title. Side note: if you're struggling with the musical connection, see our quote of the week at the bottom of the issue.

We'd like to say we came up with the branding that very same night but that would be a lie, because design demagogues Common Curiosity did it. The graphic white split going down the middle of the logo is born from the Flag of Birmingham and totally includes a hidden 'S' and 'D'. And you may just recognise that particular shade of pink from a certain weekly e-magazine.  
Since that entirely freezing day back in a JQ warehouse in Jan, Split Decision's been settling and resting and getting a tad more alcoholic than originally intended. You're looking at a 5.8% ABV served as a half or two-thirds of a pint, up from the planned 5.2%. Burning Soul is so pleased with the taste they’ve kept more kegs back than normal for their taproom collection and Pint Shop's so pleased with the branding they may just be breaking their 'no beer clips' rule for one particular night.

If you were sold at "beer", apologies for the delay, here's where you can taste the stuff. Along with a gazillion other drops, you can totally get it at TAPS beef festival at the end of the month. But for all those carpe diem-ers amongst you, Split Decision launches at Pint Shop at 5pm today. The first 50 beers are on them and there'll also be "giveaways and general fun" — the Facebook event page says so. We'll be the ones not wearing Uggs, drinking a beer we made while waffling on endlessly about Pat Sharp's mullet.


Two of the biggest openings of 2018 are dipping their perfectly independent toes in the wonderful world of the collab this weekend. From 2pm on Friday, find Brum's best baos by Tiger Bites Pig, with fried chicken by Bonehead, at Bonehead. The "Bao-chicka-wow-wow" also comes with fermented tofu mayo, Sichuan pepper and ginger salt and pickled mustard greens, all served with a chicken stock dipping pot and fermented chilli sauce. We know. Two baos per portion (£10). 25 servings only on Friday and Saturday. 


The Edwardian Tea Rooms at BMAG are putting on a late nighter in Leo Da Vinci's honour, giving ticket holders a crowd-less gander at his brilliance. As well as getting dinner, the bar will be open all night — which is what he would have wanted, plus you'll be taking in A Life in Drawing, a national sketch-focused exhibition of what must have been casual doodles to him, but are gobsmacking works of genius to us mere mortals. He was mortal of course, dying 500 years ago of a stroke, hence this entire celebration. April 6, £30.


The Armed Forces and dance may seem to go together like chalk and a particularly chalky cheese, but in an exploration of war’s effect on the human body, acclaimed choreographer Rosie Kay brought the battle to the small stage in Brum-born 5 Soldiers. A decade later, a bigger, updated version, 10 Soldiers, does a victory march into the main auditorium of the Hippodrome. Intense, athletic dance theatre is what you should expect in a show that deals with the demands on soldiers' physical and psychological well-being for an incredibly affecting experience. On May 21, tickets are from £15. Or be one of the 120 who will put on a pre-performance to mark the 120th anniversary of the Hippodrome, and your seat is free. More


With this, and the recent, tonally similar Beautiful Boy, America’s initial cultural response to its disastrous opioid epidemic seems to be primarily shock and horror that, yes, even middle-class white people can fall prey to addiction. That’s a cheap shot, as both these films mean well. Ben Is Back edges it, however, thanks to a commanding performance from Julia Roberts as a mother wondering just how permanent her son’s recovery is. Lucas Hedges is on strong form, too, as the son in question. This won’t have you rolling in the aisles, and it’s on less steady ground when it move from the domestic space to a pretty limply realised drug underworld, but there’s more than enough here to make you remember just how great Roberts is. Times
Venue: Tapas Revolution, Grand Central, B2 4XJ website 
Choice: Del Chef Set Menu for Two (£30) Chooser: It's a set menu! 

Which Brum-based chain restaurants are you happy to have an evening meal at? Pho, surely? Wagas? Gaucho probably? Maybe Pieminister? Our list might have just gone one venue shorter after Tapas Revolution, historically a more hit-than-miss restaurant, sent out some joyless lukewarm dishes. The battle for the open-plan Grand Central restaurants is one against the cold, with Pho resorting to blankets for customers when the mercury really sinks and and Tapas Rev taking the fight to Mother Nature by slapping up glass and wood walls on two of their four(ish) sides. But on this visit the temperature felt nothing but comfortable, and yet out came meatballs and Spanish omelette at an ebbing tepidity. In a desperate attempt to revive the dishes, we burst open the contrastingly thermonuclear cheesy croquettes, dousing the tapa in volcanic queso. Alas, it was no good. Time of death, 6.46pm. Rest in Peace our dinner. Bring out the lilies, let the family see the corpse. On a more positive note, the crispy squid with squeezed lemon and aioli was an outpouring of summer (remember summer?), while the bread gratin with 'Sobrasada' soft chorizo, cheese and spiced honey was, despite being a rank outsider pre-order, the hero this meal needed. But not the one it deserved. 


Yet to make it to Brum's neon giant, Nocturnal Animals? The bad news is that you'll now never meet the first incarnation of its dining. The exceptional news is that Kisama, its second coming, looks even better. Evolving from the beam-making pan-Asian plates the restaurant has served so far, Kisama will focus on modern Japanese food with a bar menu upstairs (from £6), and the sort of twists that will make you order the full taster menu (14 courses, £90). Think soft shell Koji Fried Crab with yuzu aioli (pictured), or perhaps the poshest take on a Japanese sandwich we've ever got near — a wagyu brioche containing A5 Miyazaki wagyu and caviar. Hit the full taster, the shorter version (nine courses, £65), or the three-course lunch (mid-week, £28) with 25% off during soft launch (March 20 to 30). Or for your chance to win the full Kisama taster menu for two at Nocturnal Animals, get over to our Twitter. The prize includes paired sakes and cocktails for you +1. Kanpai!
Craft beer and mezze gaff, Cork & Cage, is opening on Stirchley High Street on March 29 at 4pm. Date saved.
Get in on a one-off immersive dining experience with sounds, sights, film projections and flavours of Bangladesh. A hook-up between ⁦street artist and curator, Aerosolali and Raja Monkey at The Rep on March 24, tickets are £25, with veggie and vegan options.

The Kitty Cafe is a cafe with actual, real rescue cats, 30 of them. Opening in Grand Central on May 20, limited spots for launch have now gone on sale. From £30 for two, here's how you nab 'em.
It's the final countdown *hums along in head* — get those wristbands at the ready for Wine Weekend, March 22 to 24.

Everyone ever is at least a 16th Irish. Dust down those emerald creds and jump on Brum's St Paddy's Day Parade. From 12pm on Sunday. 
Subscribe to our little sister title Letterbox by midday on Friday (March 15) for your chance to win a night at Frederick Street Townhouse in the JQ. More

"By the time there's nothin' left to choose
One man puts the fire out, the other lights the fuse"

Steve Winwood, 'Split Decision' (1986)

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Tom CullenRobb SheppardAndrew Lowry
GOD-LIKE DESIGN: Common Curiosity
PICTURES: Tom Bird (Brew day)

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