An hour’s bus ride later we arrive in Sutton Coldfield town centre. A short walk through the pedestrianised area brings you to the Brewhouse & Kitchen brewpub on Birmingham Road. From the four own-brewed beers that were available I selected the Cup Session Bitter (3.6%) and a very refreshing Festive Fury Cask Pilsner (5%). Virtually next door is a Wetherspoons called The Bottle of Sack. Amongst the hand pulls three Beowulf Brewery beers were available and I chose their Double Decade (4.3%) at a very reasonable £1 a half. Back to the bus stop now for the hourly X12 service to Lichfield, midway between Sutton Coldfield and Burton. Alighting at the bus station, the Guildhall is only a few minutes walk away and this was the location for the Guildhall Arts Winter Beer Festival. A small, cosy affair with about 30 beers on gravity and 5 traditional ciders, situated in this Grade II listed property. When I arrived the festival was already well attended. Four halves were sampled from Tamworth Brewing Company, Box Steam, Backyard and Falstaff breweries. Lichfield is quite a compact place and there are several pubs within easy walking distance. First up was the Angel Inn, with plenty of wood panelling and partitions. It is in the long and narrow style nestled between shops on Market Street. Joule’s Brewery beers and guests were available and a choice of hot and cold snacks. I selected Joule’s Old No. 6 Winter Warmer (4.8%), Stockport Yuletide Blonde (4.2%) and a hot sausage roll. Close by are two more pubs next to each other on Tamworth Street. The Beerbohm (CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2018) had six tables upstairs and a similar number downstairs. From the four beers available I chose Ossett Evolution (4.0%). Next door is the smaller Whippet Inn (GBG 2018 entry), again with four hand pumps. I selected Fixed Wheel Domestique (4.5%), an Australian pale. A visit to another Wetherspoons pub followed, being the Acorn Inn where Slaters Ultra (3.7%) was imbibed. In Bird Street, the second Brewhouse & Kitchen brewpub of the day provided their Lunartic Red Rye Ale (4.7%). The Staffordshire CAMRA Pub of the Year 2017 is the Horse & Jockey (GBG 2018 entry) on Sandford Street. A bustling and popular place with 8 handpumps – my selection being one from Dancing Duck Brewery. My last stop in Lichfield was the Bitter Suite, a fairly new micro pub on St. John Street, near the bus station. This offered table service with ales sold on gravity. Mallinsons Sorachi Noir (4.0%) was chosen. There are other pubs in Lichfield not visited today and with many so close together, it is certainly worthy of another trip. Onto the penultimate X12 back to Burton and just time for a quick Brecon Red Beacons (5.0%) in the Lord Burton Wetherspoons before the train back to Sheffield, changing in Derby. The regular visit to the Old Queen’s Head en route to the bus provided a half of Thwaites Dark Nights (3.0%). With still a few minutes to spare and the Bankers Draft nearby, a quick half of Peerless Lottie Dod Sporting Hero (4.2%) amber ale rounded off the day. Andy Morton
The first weekday train on which a Derbyshire Wayfarer is valid gets to Derby just before 10am. There was a short wait for a ten-minute ride to Burton and then a walk in to town for the hourly Midland Classic service X12 to Sutton Coldfield. An Allday+ ticket costs £5.30 for unlimited travel on Midland Classic buses.