The Rock&Roll Brewhouse is my favourite bar in Birmingham because there is nowhere else like it in town. On the watering hole spectrum you have a multitude of different flavours, from the traditional rustic pub to the glamourous and characterless high street chain bars to the exposed brick and light bulb craft ale joints that are colouring many of the areas of regeneration across the country. These are a few examples but the Rock&Roll Brewhouse is nothing like them and nothing like anything else I could have included in that spectrum.
The entrance is unassuming but opening the door you are met with an explosion of colour, the seductive smell of incense and an eclectic choice of music that could be from any point in time from 1960 onward. Black vinyl records adorn the ceiling while the red brick walls are covered with posters from festivals and gig tickets of years gone by. The colour is high but the lights are kept low and it comes from a charming mix of red and yellow fairy lights, tall candles and old fashioned lampshades which gives the place an alluring late-night feel at all times of day.
The funky beats of Prince’s Lovesexy were playing over the stereo when I entered not long after 5pm on Friday and it was busier inside than I expected considering its tucked-away location on Regent Place just off Caroline Street. Although I wanted this colourful mystery cave all to myself I was quite glad that plenty of people know of its existence. It wasn’t just through the sounds of his sexy drawl that I knew it was Prince I was listening to, it was also because Rock&Roll Brewhouse releases a handwritten playlist for each opening via its Twitter feed. It’s only a small touch but it’s unique and not something I’ve seen before anywhere else.
The drinks are cheap and it’s all 100% vegan which, despite being a shameless carnivore, I think is to be applauded and only adds to its distinctiveness. The drinks are good too and they currently offer a lager, a pale ale and a mild which are all brewed in-house. You can even see into the brewery in one of the rooms towards the back with the beer kegs and everything else bathed in swirling neon lights almost as funky as the music.
Through the brewing, the gaudy amounts of memorabilia and the jovial atmosphere it’s clear that a lot of painstaking dedication has gone into crafting this inimitable part of Birmingham and the Jewellery Quarter’s independent scene. It’s only open to the public for 10 hours over each Friday and Saturday but there are few more blissful places to while away those precious hours of a weekend.