Although my blogging is on hold at the moment it would be unjust, nay, some sort of crime not to mention a few of my beery discoveries this past weekend. I say discoveries as if these things were unknown to all before I came along, but it’s safe to say I’m behind the curve. These are very much personal discoveries.
If you knew of these two highlights already, then take pity on me and shake your head. Tut, if you must. However, if you aren’t aware of them then fear not, I won’t tut. Come closer, and let me tell you about…
On Friday 5 September, Chris Hall and I travelled up to Sheffield. Jules, co-owner of the Hop Hideout, had invited us to deliver a talk on our bookazine thingy, “Craft Beer: 365 Best Beers in the World”. The sweet spot on the Venn Diagram that is our diaries offered only a very narrow window in September; we quickly felt uncomfortable at the notion of delivering a talk on a bookazine that had been published almost a year ago, so instead we suggested ‘The History of IPA’, a tale of the style’s rise, decline and rise through the sampling of six beers and six cheeses.
But that’s another story. What impressed me was the Hop Hideout itself. It is barely big enough to be a cupboard (or an upmarket studio apartment for you Londoners) but within it was contained a dangerously impressive choice of beers. (Shite awful photographer that I am it’s hard to make out the exact number, but at a crude guess I reckon around 328 different beers. Probably.)
It forms part of a sort of community of independent shops and businesses nestled within one building, and sits alongside antique shops, massage parlours, hairdressers, vintage boutiques, street food vans and, helpfully, a café. The Electric Candlelight Café kindly hosted our event, and we are genuinely grateful for that.
If you are ever in Sheffield then the Hop Hideout is the place to pick up your beers; even if you’re just passing through, get your train beers and gift beers from there. It’s stunning what can be done with such little space. If you ever thought of opening your own bottle shop on a modest budget then the Hop Hideout could be the best place to start looking for ideas.
So thanks to Jules and Will at the Hop Hideout for inviting us, the Electric Candlelight Café for hosting us, and the Urban Pantry for providing the great cheese we paired with our six IPAs.
By coincidence, the following day was the 3rd Annual Leeds Beer Festival, so naturally we went and had a look. I ran into several other beer writers and bloggers during the Saturday day session alone so I imagine there’ll be a fair few, in depth write ups on this particular surfacing around now. My overall impression is that it was one of the best organised and operated beer festivals I’ve been to.
It was held in Leeds town hall, with food vans parked up outside and sending their delicious, smoky aromas into the adjacent beer tent and up the steps of town hall where, inside, rooms were filled with some of the best British beers stalls, US Craft Beer stalls, cider stalls and free-to-play arcade machines. I could go on, but instead look out for other articles on the Leeds Beer Festival for more detail; all I want to say right now is that I’m keenly looking forward to it next year.