By Helen Wilson | Editor
First Bristol, then Cardiff, now Kongs has opened up shop in the UK’s Second City, Birmingham. Kongs has built its’ own brand of venues that match local and independent brews with classic arcade gaming machines, and they do it with plenty of style. It all started four years ago with owners, Toby and Max, combining their passions of retro gaming and craft beer. We had a chat to them both and got to take a peek at what to expect with their new digs.
“Did you guys see it when it was Chameleon?” We were supposed to be asking the questions, but Max couldn’t keep his amusement to himself, “it used to have diamante wallpaper and all the pillars were mirrored.” The space certainly has been transformed into a modern, industrial wonderland. “I’m big into my Berlin brutalism.”, chimes in Toby. “When we come to a building, I ask what can I rip off. So, we took it all down, and then we were left with these lovely concrete structural pillars. The space is fantastic, we really lucked out on it!” And it’s versatile, too. With an airy, chilled-out gaming lounge and eatery vibe in the day; the place takes on a whole different atmosphere at night when the blinds go down and the sound system kicks in, with live DJs every Friday and Saturday ‘til late.
They have a wide range of individual machines, including the quintessential Street Fighter II, four-player Mutant Ninja Turtles, Golden Axe, and four-player Pac-Man, which is the first machine of its kind in the UK over from America. Final Fight is Toby’s go to of the arcade games, and Deya’s Steady Rollin’ Man (one of the bar’s mainstays) is his current choice off the taps – perhaps the first beer and videogame matching, and it sounds like a good combo to us. There are other great beers on offer here, including Beavertown’s Gamma Ray and Kongs very own Silverback APA collaboration with Lervig as permanent placeholders, alongside six rotating guest taps. Also make sure to take a look in the fridge, for a selection of beers from here to New Zealand.
These guys love to work with local and independent breweries, “Obviously we bought a few brews from Bristol, like Wiper and True but […] in Bristol the beer scene is really established, whereas in Birmingham it feels like it’s in the early stages, but the beer is great.” And it’s not just breweries, joining Kongs for a second time is Bristol-based, Burger Theory, who have nailed the science of truly satisfying burgers, and are now well-versed at their beer + burger formulas too.
This looks to be a great venue, keen to boost Birmingham’s growing beer credentials. As a bonus, on New Year’s Eve they’re having a tap takeover with Lervig vs Birmingham’s own Dig Brew Co, and there’s plans for a Tekken tournament in the works too. So be sure to get over there!