Issue 442
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The inaugural Jewellery Quarter Beer Weekend takes place April 14 to 16 and by jingo are they coming out of the traps fast. There are 21 pubs taking part, putting on special beer options, menu items and live entertainment. Visit just five of them at any point across the weekend (and claim a sticker at each) and you'll earn yourself a free t-shirt too (non alcoholic drinks are included). Here's what's going on at just ten of the 21...
At 1000 Trades

Sonny and Cher, Zig and Zag, beers and burgers. All classic partnerships. But with Sonny dead and with Zig and Zag fully booked, 1000 Trades have opted for beer and burgers as their killer combo to mark JQ Beer Fest. Pictured is the Porky Blinder, and you can pair that up with exclusively West Mids-made beers which will takeover the taps, like the often wild Walsall-brewed New Invention. More
At Burning Soul Brewery

Sup one of ten Burning Soul beers made mere metres from where you're sat. Talk of the town newbie, No Scrubs, (made from TLC — a three hop blend of Talus, Loral and Citra, see what they've done there?) will be on the taps with its punchy, hazy, fruit-forward appeal which would marry well with some sunshine, should the weather gods look upon the weekend favourably. At 3.9% Little Dank-Age is a more session-able option. More
At Rock & Roll Brewhouse

The ultra vegan-friendly Rock & Roll Brewhouse, near neighbours of Burning Soul, will have three cask beers, all vegan, including their flagship Voodoo Mild because, in the words of owner Lynn Crossland, "The regulars revolt if I ever take it off". Also on offer are vegan hot dogs, vegan crisps, vegan wine, vegan beer, vegan cider, and on Saturday vegan DJs! Actually I don't know if Make It Reggae are vegan, but it sounded good and they will be there then. More
At Rose Villa Tavern

The mega dog-friendly Rose Villa Tavern (by that I mean they're very dog friendly, I don't mean they welcome MEGA DOGS, but they probably would) will have Wye Valley's Butty Bach and Ossett Brewery's Yorkshire Blond on tap, DJs on the Friday night, relaxed karaoke on the Saturday and, get this, a bingo session from 6pm on the Sunday. Their buttermilk fried chicken burger is a winner-winner, too. More
At The Rectory

The JQ seagull festival mascot is already on a trajectory to iconic status such has the wider Brum community taken to the squawky loudmouth's appearance on merch and promo material. You'll be able to claim a free t-shirt with five stamps from any participating pubs and The Rectory is one of five places you can collect it. The St Paul's Square pub will also have exclusive local craft beers on from the likes of Purity, Wye Valley and Attic. The chef is working on some specials, too, and word on the square is the Mad Goose steak and ale pie is a ten. More
2-4-1 BEER
At Indian Brewery

On the Sunday (only) of the Jewellery Quarter Beer Weekend Indian Brewery will have an excellent 2-4-1 offer on all their own pints which, combined with their Two Small Plates for £12 offer makes for a frugal visit. Birmingham Lager is their flagship brew and still a standout. The Indian fish and chips and the chicken faat naans are the biggest food sellers. More
At The Church

The new(ish) food menu at The Church (which is now in the super safe hands of the team behind Tiger Bites Pig and Trentina) is gaining rave reviews and they're offering 10% off food for those taking part in the Beer Weekend. Think pub classics like bangers and mash, Scotch egg and cottage pie but all elevated. Then there's the less obvious, like Pacific rock oysters, beetroot carpaccio and wild mushroom arancini. More
At The Shakespeare Inn

A Michelin-starred chef once told me this was his favourite pub in the entire city and you can see why given the 150-year-old Victoriana. Simple, elegant and Old School we should protect it at all costs. Stop by for Birmingham Brewing Co's Brummie Pale on tap as well as four rotated craft beer lines, plus well-executed fish and chips, as standard. More
At Grain & Glass

Whisky specialists Grain & Glass do do beer, of course they do, and they'll have local breweries Attic and Glasshouse represented for the Beer Weekend plus barrel-aged beers from around the UK. But if you're looking for something a little different how about Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow, their flight of three whiskies that have been finished in beer casks. They're using Scottish and Irish whiskies that have been finished in IPA and stout barrels. Just £12.50 for the weekend as a special price. More
At The Queen's Arms

Another of the JQ's most beautiful and historic pubs, The Queen's Arms, will have live acoustic music on the Friday night from the very talented Sophia Adams, with five guest ales on offer. Excellent vegetarian street food outfit Notty Bites are on food, too, with beer-battered bhajis, tasty curry bowls and absolutely sublime fried cauliflower More
Homepage: Jewellery Quarter Beer Weekend 


In true Brummie spirit Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) are putting on a special concert to welcome Kazuki Yamada to the city, in his new role as Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

In this formal "alright bab?" intro to the musical life of the city, Yamada will himself conduct a special performance by BCMG at CBSO Centre, with contemporary works by Japanese and European composers that celebrate the natural world. It's called Blossoming in Birmingham and it'll land on April 29.

Kazuki spent much of his life in Japan before moving to Europe, where in addition to his new role with CBSO he is also Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo. Monte-Carlo, the Birmingham of the French Riviera.

BCMG will perform Dai Fujikura’s Perpetual Spring and Secret Forest, the latter inspired by the power of nature. Dai Fujikura explains how “Perpetual Spring is organic, the clarinet melts into the string quartet, and the strings extend their ‘stems’ to wrap around the clarinet wherever it moves. As is the amazing thing about nature: the roots and the stems of trees wrap around anything, breaking through asphalt roads and concrete walls. Every time I see this power of nature, I feel that we should never underestimate the power of ‘quiet’ nature. This piece is about framing it.”

Kazuki follows a long line of masters at CBSO. In 1980 Simon Rattle arrived as a fresh-faced 25-year-old, and the following two chief conductors Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons went on to have standout careers. The orchestra’s last music director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, proved an enormous hit with Brummies (and the much wider region) while Kazuki will bring a different technique and energy to the role.

From £7.50 to £15, every attendee will get a snazzy eco-friendly plantable poppy pencil too which, once bedded, will bloom into beautiful flowers.


In recent months MasterChef: The Professionals winner, Dan Lee, has had more pop-ups than the Birmingham Live website, but such is the deserved popularity of the insanely skilled Brummie, getting a seat has been rightly and royally difficult, tables often going within hours of launch. Step forward Hockley Social Club who have secured Dan's services as a semi-permanent residency, June 1 to October 1, so everyone can eat food prepared by a master chef.

Described by Michelin-star celebrity cook Marcus Wareing as "a star in the making" (he's way ahead of that now) Dan’s menu will take in dishes like Hainanese Chicken Rice, Siu Mai (below), Char Siu Bao, Chicken and Pandan Broth, and Hong Kong Ice Milk Tea.

Following his televised win Dan returned home and has spent the last year exploring Birmingham’s food scene and collaborating with some of the city’s culinary stars, from fellow MasterChef winner, Stuart Deeley, to Vietnamese street food concept, Eat Vietnam. He's also made hot ticket appearances at the JQ's 1000 Trades, Kings Heath's POLI and Moseley's Le Petit Bois.

Dan said, “I’m thrilled to lay down some roots and join Hockley Social Club. Making my food as accessible as possible is important to me, so there will be a range of dishes from as little as £6. The origins of my food lie in simple dishes made on the streets of Asia so to cook them at the home of street food in Birmingham is going to be a real buzz.”

You can book a table at Hockley Social Club now for any time of the year, so just select a date between June 1 and October 1 to be sure to get Dan's food, if you so choose — they always have multiple street food stars to pick from. Walk-ins are welcome too. Huzzah! 


"Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, we're huntin' wabbit..."

This Sunday (Easter Sunday) Birmingham-based artist with, by now, global reputation, Imbue, will be placing half a dozen bronze rabbits in hidden spots across the city. And if you find one, it's yours to keep. The rabbit hunt is likely to kick off in the mid-morning and run for a few hours, and you'll need to follow Imbue on Instagram for peeks at where he's placing them.

"I've done rabbit hunts in London, The Canaries and Las Vegas, but it's great to bring it home to Birmingham for Easter. More often than not they're gone within 30 minutes of me posting to Instagram. One rabbit in London was gone in two minutes. I placed one in the Mojave Desert, though, and that one took a month to be found.

"I try to make sure you won't ever see the rabbit unless you recognise where I'm dropping them. It's like the Instagram videos are clues. I've chosen bronze rabbits because they have a kind of magical Alice In Wonderland connotations."

Each rabbit is made in the Jewellery Quarter and is uniquely numbered, from one to 100. About ten have gone so far in Imbue's previous hunts with Brum set to get a relatively large drop off of six.

"They're money-can't-buy pieces," says Imbue. "I haven't and won't sell them. I'm doing this as a little prompt to get people out of the house, you know? We've become something of a Netflix society and hopefully this is a nice little reminder that there's a world out there with little spots of magic in it. It's a simple idea but, hopefully, exciting. It seems to have attracted a fair few people in the other cities and Brummies have been on at me to do a drop in Birmingham for a while. So here it is."

Imbue is best known for designing and making pills emblazoned with social media logos, a reference to the addictive qualities or dangers (depending on your outlook) of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the like. He also made glass grenades filled with real shredded money. Follow


Early bird tickets are on sale for a new one-day festival heading for The Mill, Digbeth, July 22. InterMission will feature live music, workshops and industry talks while it'll explore sounds from the UK's leading Jazz, Afro, Electronica and Hip Hop scenes, including Tash LC (pictured). With diversity and inclusivity at its core its focus is on celebrating music and creatives from underrepresented backgrounds. Acclaimed Jazz collective Steam Down are on the lineup, alongside Shy One, Hagan and more.


In a frankly bananas fastest finger first I managed to miss out on James Acaster tickets, last week, and have been sulking ever since. Today, though (April 6), I'm primed for Jack Whitehall tickets which go on general sale at 10am. Jack will play two dates this year for his Settle Down tour, at the Utilita Arena July 7 and 8. Following three complete sell-out arena tours and the UK's largest comedy tour of 2019, his latest road trip is obviously going to sell out fast too. Jack said of the show: “It’s about my struggle to settle down gracefully. I’ve got a long-term partner, a ridiculous dog and am now hurtling towards middle aged without a clue. It’s about a foppish man-child’s cack handed attempt at adulting!” Tickets will appear here at 10am (April 6) and will be gone by, like, midday, maybe? A real good guy of the comedy circuit and worth synchronising watches for.


Because you have a life and I don't, I've been trawling the best Easter deals for cheap/free kids meals when adults pay full price. You're going to have to dive into the T&Cs yourself, because even I'm too busy to wrestle that bolognese from the spaghetti, but there are excellent offers at the following places, with proof via the links provided. I'll be taking my Japan-obsessed idiots to Tonkotsu (Selfridges) for free bento boxes but there's also free food options at neighbouring Yo Sushi and Kouzina (Greek). For pizza-heads, kids eat for £1 at the brilliant Smoke + Ash in Edgbaston (scroll down) or for free at Laghis, while underrated Lebanese joint, Comptoir Libanias (Grand Central) are doing kids eat free too. Bill's are doing a decent deal here, TGI's are also trying to woo you here and Bodega here.     
The parent-botheringly named Insomnia Gaming Festival arrives at NEC, April 7 to 10.  

Swingamajig, a one-day festival of live music, circus, cabaret, swing dance, workshops, DJs, a vintage market and street food will splosh down in the Botanical Gardens, April 30. 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag was originally a one-woman live show, before it was a smash TV hit. MAC Birmingham will be screening that very 2019 show on June 15 and tickets go on sale today (April 6) at 10am, here.

The British Open Squash Championships — the Wimbledon of squash, no less — will take place from April 9 and 10 at the Edgbaston Priory Club and then April 11 to 16 at the Birmingham Rep, which sounds particularly ace. Book

There's no issue of I Choose Birmingham next week because, presumably, I'll be watching Spongebob The Musical with the kids at The Hippodrome, on repeat for five days solid. Matinee, evening, matinee, evening, matinee, evening... 
WORDS: Tom Cullen
PICTURES: Trevor Leighton (Jack Whitehall)

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