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Hop Hideout … Does not.

Hop Hideout doesn’t. What the Hideout does do is sit at the side of a busy road with the words “Hop Hideout” beautifully adorned on the front of the building(designed by the exceptional Tom Newell). In its three years it has developed an impressive online presence and a website which gives directions to its location. It has also won the prestigious Celebrating British Beer Awards for Retailer of the North.

All of which means one cannot help but feel that little to no effort has been made to the stealth and secrecy implied by the word “Hideout” ….. The door was even unlocked …..

Quibbles aside at my disappointment at not about to be inducted into some kind of secret society drinking club …. I adore the place. I am sure that you will too, but would suggest you do not approach it with a similar notion as I had.

I have to tell you that I am not a daytime drinker, but it was an impossibility to visit such an establishment and resist the temptation of the delights on offer. I informed co-owner Jules of my daytime drinking light weight nature and she furnished me with an immensely refreshing and delightful hand pulled Mad Hatter from Lick Brewery (4%). The decorative draft pump adornments from which the beer was drawn are worthy of note as they were formerly part of a printing machine …. Keeping nicely with the vintage and antique quarter ethos of the old finding a new home (Upcycling as I previously learnt from Makers on the Edge … See Previous blog ).

I was due to another meeting after my Hop Hideout excursion and can happily report this cheeky pale ale was in no way an impediment to the brain cells and left me fresh as a daisy but with a bounce in my step.

The Hop Hideout is not a place to simply drink beer, it is a place to come and enjoy it. Jules and Will set out the place in 2013 and it now caters and supplies well over 400 speciality beers and ciders. Its intimate surroundings are neither a bar, a pub nor even a shop. You sit surrounded by bottles and above you twist and turn playing cards. The Jack of Clubs and Ten of Diamonds spin playfully with their colleagues in whatsoever direction take their fancy at that moment in time. It is a welcoming place.

Games appear to be a part of the Hop Hideout theme.

Close to hand in case of game requirements is one I had not heard of, “Cards against Humanity”, the sort of game that promises fun and food to the inner sadist. One takes a card and challenges your opponents to come up with the most provocative answer from a selection of possible answer cards. Jules assured me that many evenings fun had been had thanks to this devilishly inventive game.

Among the other available games was Snoopy Come Home on the long table by the window, of which I approved muchly. As a child I had always thought the draw to “Peanuts” was Snoopy and Charlie Brown and team an unwelcome distraction. I remember confusion as to why such a young child had a comb over. I also found myself uninterested in the love triangle between Charlie, Lucy and Peppermint Patty … I mean Charlie and Patty? Seriously? Like it or not Charlie was destined to walk up the aisle with Lucy. It was inevitable.

I stopped reading Peanuts and changed to Garfield which had the dignity and insight to recognise the central character and name it after such (other cartoon characters series are available).

It seemed wrong to mention in such surroundings but I did tell Jules that I was more of a wine man, Jules produced something I have never heard of. She sat a bottle in front of me of Cantillion, a Lambic beer. It looked very much more like a fine red wine than it did a beer, but it is what Jules recommends to the more wine minded and it is a bit of coup that she is able to source and sell the stuff.

“Lambic” brewing is as old as the hills …. Possibly even older. It certainly takes a while to get going as it relies purely on natural yeast and leaving it for a while to develop …In a very Belgium way (where it is from) it takes patience and a lot of interest in beer …. And while that does sound like a stereotype it is impossible to argue that Belgians are damn good at making beer.

And the Lambic is known as the Champagne of Beers.

Hop Hideout reminded me of a memory from long ago (I store such things in case they may be useful one day …. I have a pretty random collection).

I remember a friend of mine telling me about the first time he worked in France, the beer was cheap and the places stayed open much longer than in Britain at the time. Despite the late opening of the bars he and his colleague found themselves guzzling the cheap brew in a typically British way and in bed by ten, while their French sat there till the early hours talking and chatting.

It soon dawned on them that there was a different approach, while they guzzled one after the other the French sipped and talked and had fun. They adopted this method and enjoyed their evening much more and woke a lot more sober and awake even though they had less sleep.

Hop Hideout brought this to mind and as I said previously it is a place to enjoy and chat and perhaps play a round of Snoopy Come Home.

Thinking about it afterwards you cannot help but feel impressed that in only three years they have won a prestigious award, that they are sending there beers all over the place by mail order, that they have secured the ability to sell Lambic, but you don’t feel impressed or overawed sat there …. You feel comfortable and at home. It is little surprise that Jules has been tasked with running the Sheffield Beer Week …

….. And I was half way into town before my brain slowly kick fired and I got it …. Hop Hideout is not the stealthy secret society the name suggests … It is a place to go and hideout and relax.

My mind may be slow …. But I get there in the end … On this occasion much aided by a Mad Hatter brew.

I continued into town and incidentally in a straight line.

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