Issue 259
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From brewing beer in buckets, to their very own tap house, Oli Hurlow and Sam Back are opening Attic Brew Co tomorrow. Pints poured and pens at the ready, we had a pow-wow with Oli about leaving the London advertising industry for a shell of a warehouse on a Stirchley trading estate, the rise of the Birmingham beer scene and making a living out of slingin' cold ones. 
"I was having a sh*tty week at work when Sam asked me if I wanted to open a brewery" says Oli. "I didn't hesitate. Not for a second. We've been brewing together since uni, and this is a chance to make something real for people." And that was it. Oli upped sticks, leaving behind a blossoming career in online advertising in the capital to join Birmingham-based Sam. The only thing Oli is missing is the people he worked with. "Don't get me wrong, it's been stressful," he says, with a chuckle that suggests 'stressful' is an understatement, "but I absolutely love it and we've had so much support to get this thing open".

Take the bar and woodwork: Sam's brother did that. The logo? A designer pal. Oli even has a mate that's an electrician, and his parents helped paint the place, as well as providing the sink-into-me-and-never-leave armchair we get lost in whilst chatting.
Oli waves away the suggestion that Stirchley might be a brewery gamble compared to, say, Brixton, where he lived: "Beer culture in Birmingham is in the ascendency — it's growing but there's still space for us to grow into — exactly where you want to be as a business". Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter's loss (the other areas the pair looked for premises) is Maryvale Trading Estate's gain, with the ten-tapped unit opening seconds from Bournville Station. "Stirchley Wines & Spirits popped in to see us and we're basically living off Alicia's pizzas. The feeling in Stirchley is more community than competition." And perfectly on cue, Paul from Birmingham Brewing Co walks through the giant plastic strip curtains that mark the entrance to the unit, just to see how things are going and wish the guys all the best.
Sam's basically been home brewing ever since he became acquainted with ale, and converted his attic into a brewery (which, yes campers, does explain the name). Oli's first experience of brewing involved Sam and a bucket — a method the pair will broadly still be using for small-batch beers. But they've also got a load of fancy kit now and are opening with four of their own brews: a saison, a wheat beer, an IPA and a smoked strong ale. At 7.5%, the latter is served as a half but the guys still got through a whole barrel of the stuff on their friends and family night last week — it was the surprise favourite from the night, and very worthy of your order if they have any left by the time you make it down.

Look out also for the team's shortly-landing chocolate milk stout, session IPA, and resident security guards, Frank and Teddy (pictured below), who are almost ever present. Attic Brew Co is dog-friendly and child-friendly, though bear in mind this is a working brewery. Street fooders, Full of Chaat, will be serving from inside the tap room all weekend. Here's their menu and everything.
Oli, Sam and their battalion of helpers have achieved insane amounts over the last four months. This is what unit they took on looked like. But they're the first to say, there's still so much they want to do. Attic Brew Co will have an outdoor area with plants, lights and tables plus its own light-festooned entrance from the street. There's talk of casks, bottles and even cans in the future, as well as collaborations with other breweries and all sorts of new brews. Plus all those takeaway pizzas could ultimately be seen as research — the rumours are that Alicia's could be a regular pop-up at the tap house.

But ultimately, their priority is making good beer and people enjoying their brews right where they're made. "People are drinking at home less and moving back to the old ways of drinking in small breweries, and I couldn't be happier about it" says Oli. "I'd love to see our brand on a supermarket shelf one day, but I'm way more excited to hear what people think of our beer". 
Attic Brew Co is open from 4pm on Friday, and from 1pm on Saturday on Maryvale Trading Estate, accessible from Mary Vale Road.


If the unfeasibly big and bitterly cold Frankfurt market isn't your thing, and you want to put a clear 7.7 miles between you and it, check out Touchwood's Theatre Square in Solihull, where you'll find local street traders from today right through to Saturday, and then each weekend until Chrimbo. Bake My Brie will be there with topped whole cheeses including a chorizo and thyme brie with ciabatta for dipping purposes, freshly baked at the stall. Share one for starters, then move on to the curries, samosas and peri peri wings of Punjabi Veeru Da Dhaba. Event Crepes are on pud. And if you're concerned by the elements, there's a whopping great tipi, complete with warmth and a full bar. Touchwood Street Eats runs from midday until 11pmish, Thursday to Saturday.


This follow-up to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo arrives awkwardly, with the franchise jettisoning Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig and director David Fincher. This action-heavy new entry swaps out the arty approach of its forebearer for an unfussy if anonymous take, with Claire Foy’s Lisbeth Salander this time basically a goth Bond who finds herself swept up in the shenanigans of both international intelligence agencies and previously unknown branches of her family tree. Foy is rock solid as one of the 21st century’s few newly-minted fictional icons, even if she doesn’t quite match Mara’s piercings-heavy commitment. Craig is badly missed however, and while director Fede Alvarez can take things nasty when he wants, he can’t match Fincher’s flair for doom. Times


A big piece of the sprawling puzzle that is the Birmingham restaurant scene will slot nicely into place in January: a modern, high-end Chinese. Tattu, is coming to The Grand, opening its third spot in the dynasty (following Manchester and Leeds), and it'll bring with it Instagram-chummy dishes, their trademark blossom trees and body art-nodding details throughout. In a (South China) sea of menu highlights, the melty beef fillets with a caramel soy (pictured) and mad-good sesame roasted scallops stood out when we ventured north to test run Tattu. The team will be offering subscribers to their mailer a rollicking 50% off food during their soft launch, plus three subscribers will win a table for two, including a bottle of house wine as well as food. To be in with a chance, and to be notified when the 50% promotion goes live (people will pounce and you need to be primed, tiger), sign up to Tattu's mailout by 12pm December 4.  


Whether you’re a full-on Biggie Shackleton or a trip to the flicks is about as adventurous as you get, the Reel Rock World Tour will make you feel like you’re a proper daredevil. Reel Rock 13 (you don’t need to have seen seen the previous 12) premieres four fresh climbing and adventure films, which range from navigating the Antarctic tundra to traversing the Valley of the Moon (that's the one in Jordan). Particularly threatening to make us lose our lunch is Age of Ondra, which sees Adam Ondra set a 5.15d benchmark. That’s officially the hardest climb in the world by the way, and involves more hanging upside down than Tom Cruise in that terrible Mission: Impossible movie. Showing in Birmingham once, at the Crescent Theatre, tomorrow at 7.30pm. Tickets are £13.50.
Venue: Fazenda, 55 Colmore Row B3 2AA; Website 
Choice: Beef tenderloin (rodizio dinner, £32.50) Chooser: Us

Opening next door to the embattled Gaucho, you can't question the chutzpah of new Brazilian rodizio, Fazenda. And where the biggest criticism of Gaucho is usually price, and the biggest criticism of Rodizio Rico (the only other rodizio in town) is usually quality, Fazenda falls into the sweet spot: much better food than their national counterpart in The Cube and more affordable than their Argentinean neighbour. And when you walk in, you'll be convinced they know something you don't. Because it's enormous. So big that somebody, somewhere must have crunched the numbers and worked out that this is exactly what Birmingham wants. Enormous and, frankly, stunning. Their fifth venue, the team will bring out skewers of sizzling meats, the standout being the beef tenderloin. And if nobody's brought it round to you, get it ordered. Once we realised it was the one meat we hadn't tried, and we pointed it out, it arrived charred and seasoned on the outside, pink and juicy on the in. The sides bar is ace, with everything from sushi to salads, while the vegan and veg options, though clearly not the raison d'être for this cavernous, carnivorous kingdom, mean those that follow the V-life won't feel like an afterthought
Apres ski minus the flights anyone? From December 7 you'll find a full on ski lodge at the Custard Factory with pretty much mulled everything, Christmas cinema and all this.
Book (from free)
Add The Oyster Club to your 2019 watch list. The seafood bar, by Adam Stokes (yes of Adam's), is opening on Temple Street next year.
18/81 is now doing four and six-course cocktail tasting menus with snacks and edible courses. From £40 and by reservation only, email to book.
Beer and film night is December 6. Birmingham Brewing Co is on beverages, and The Electric's on hosting duties. The Long Kiss Goodnight starts at 8pm. Tickets (from £12.50)
Five days a week in an office not the most inspiring set up? Dispace is a co-working platform that wants to disrupt all of that. Head to one of their partner venues, 1,000 Trades, to get the skinny, and some food and drink on them. On Nov 29 from 6pm, it's free to attend but register here.
Having heroically overcome a total lack of electricity, bao joint, Tiger Bites Pig is in soft launch this weekend, opening proper next week. Rejoicing obligatory.

"I shall return to the Arctic not for the money, nor the fame, but for Biggie Shackleton, whose icy encounter with Black Frost left him crushed and lifeless. Like crisps under bison."

Dixon Bainbridge, 'The Mighty Boosh'

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Tom CullenRobb Sheppard, Andrew Lowry
PICTURES: Thom Bartley (Attic Brew Co)

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