I visited a tiny Birmingham pub and the beer garden made my jaw drop

Photo shows Emily holding a pint of cider in the beer garden
-Credit: (Image: Emily Chaplin/BirminghamLive)

It's impossible to walk ten steps along Harborne high street without stumbling across a cool pub, a trendy bar or a nice restaurant. The nightlife in Birmingham's poshest suburb is thriving, but it was a work night and we were only out for a quiet one.

Keen to try somewhere new, we dipped behind the M&S in search of a tiny pub we'd heard about but never visited - the Hop Garden. The diddy boozer is just off the main road, on Metchley Lane, so it's easy to miss it if you don't know it's there.

Had it not been for the beer barrels out the front and the wooden sign above the door, we might have mistaken the unassuming grey building for another house on the residential street. It was starting to rain, so we nipped inside for shelter and a pint.

Read more: Birmingham's top beer gardens to enjoy in the sun

I'd never seen a boozer quite like it. The place was so small that I found myself ducking to get through the doorway even though I didn't need to. A big wooden bar filling half of the room was framed by multi-coloured hanging lights and the pumps along the front were labelled with beer brands I'd never heard of.

An archway led through to another - but only slightly bigger - room, complete with wooden floors, rustic panelled walls draped in lights and wooden tables and chairs to match. Remember when everyone was building pubs in their garden sheds during lockdown? Well, this is how I imagine one might look inside if you had the budget and creativity to do a proper job of it. It felt warm and intimate.

Photo shows the Hop Garden pub from the front
The little pub is off the main high street so it's easy to miss -Credit:Emily Chaplin/BirminghamLive

There was a craft beer fridge to my left, filled with unusual beverages from independent breweries including a salted caramel brownie-flavoured stout that caught my eye, guest ales listed on a specials board above our heads and a sign on the bar that told us that every Tuesday was board games night. Gardening tools hanging on the back wall added to the whole garden shed vibe.

I was feeling adventurous and ordered the Pulp Pornstar Martini Cider (3.4%), which the friendly barwoman had to fetch from out the back, and my husband had a pint of the Attic Beams Golden Ale (4.8%). The round came to £9.70.

We'd just placed our drinks down on one of the few free tables (the place was surprisingly busy for a Thursday night) when a woman on the next table leaned over as if she was about to tell us a secret. "There's a big beer garden out the back, you know," she said with a gleam in her eye. "You should have a look."

Photo shows the cosy inside area of the pub
The pub is diddy inside, but the outdoor area surprised us -Credit:Emily Chaplin/BirminghamLive

I didn't much fancy sitting outside in the rain but I was intrigued enough to take a peek at least, so we thanked the stranger for the tip and headed for the back door. It led out to a sheltered patio housing a few tables and benches with ivy and twinkly lights wrapped around wooden beams. Shrubs were growing in pots and planters along the edge.

It was pretty, sure, but not exactly big, I thought - until I realised the path kept on going. Hidden at the back was a second outdoor seating area with more tables and rattan chairs. Curiosity led us down some paved steps and my jaw dropped when I spotted yet another section - a grassy lawn dotted with picnic benches and fairy lights overhead.

Photo shows the beer garden and plants
The Hop Garden describes itself as a 'small pub with a massive beer garden' and the description is spot on -Credit:Emily Chaplin/BirminghamLive

Next to it, a long outbuilding held even more tables and a few booths. A couple of families seated inside had the Simpsons playing on the big screen and I imagined how awesome it would be to watch the Euros here in the summer.

After a quick mooch around, we settled on a table back on the cosy patio, right next to a hatch serving wood-fired pizzas that looked and smelled incredible. It took all the restraint I could muster not to order a second dinner.

It wasn't beer garden weather - far from it - but we happily spent an hour there under the heaters, savouring our locally-produced bevs and enjoying the atmosphere. The Hop Garden had been full of surprises. The few pub-goers we saw venturing outside wore the same amazed facial expression we undoubtedly had on an hour earlier.

Photo shows benches in the beer garden
The beer garden seemed to go on and on, with different seating areas in every corner -Credit:Emily Chaplin/BirminghamLive

You'd never guess from the street outside that this teeny pub held such a colossal Tardis of a beer garden out the back, with hidden nooks in every corner. When the sun is shining, I'll be rushing back to experience the space in all its glory.

We visited the pub anonymously and all items were paid for by the reviewer.