The second stop on my mini Birmingham crawl was The Wellington on Bennetts Hill. It may be easy to miss from the outside as it doesn't resemble your average pub, but once visited you will return. Without a doubt The 'Welly' is one of the most revered real ale pubs in the UK. The pub opened in its present guise in late 2004 and has won Birmingham CAMRA's pub of the year in 2005, and 2006.
It has a vast turnover of real ales. There are presently 15 handpumps devoted to ales and three to ciders and perries. It is not uncommon for a beer to be replaced as soon as a barrel runs out, so in a two hour stay there may actually be nearer twenty different beers. It is doubtful that any British pub gets through as many different beers as The Welly: In 2005 they sold 2610 different beers; in 2006, 2332 and as of my visit this week there have been 1910 in 2007.
Ordering beer is easy thanks to their beer board which is updated in real time both in the pub and on the net. The board gives colour indication for those who care, as well as price, and customers are requested to order by pump number. The Welly's policy is not to serve food, but all customers are very welcome to bring their own, be it hot or cold, with crockery, cutlery and condiments provided. This is a wonderful idea and really should be replicated by other pubs who not provide kitchen facilities. Throw in the fact that the entrances to both toilets are probably the narrowest in the known Universe, and The Welly clearly becomes an essential visit for all lovers of beer and interesting hostelries.
It may seem churlish to make complaints about such a place, but nowhere is perfect. My personal opinion is that in the pub's chase to get through so many different beers they do sell too many short range or one off beers. This is excellent for the scoopers but I would prefer to see the stock range of brewers' production more often. Having said that I do realise that the regular customer base keeps returning (as do I whenever in Birmingham) so obviously they are fulfilling expectations.
Whatever you do, do not miss The Welly when in Birmingham, and even if within a fifty mile radius, take a detour, you will not regret it.