Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A return visit to properly assess The Hop at West One, Sheffield's newest real ale venue.

Now then,

   after my pitstop visit on Friday i was determined to head back to the Hop at West One to take a pic or two and see if I could find out a bit more, like, for instance, where the bands play....

The Hop lowdown

I got in just before 19.00 last night to discover, to my joy, that they were indeed serving pies, as promised in their blurb. I would have been pushing it to have ordered but wasn't looking for a meal so decided on a pack of Ox flavour crisps and a fantastic and all too quaffable pint of Riverhead Sparth Mild. This was demolished in about 6 minutes, including time spent trying to take a decent photo in a dark pub with a phone camera that has no flash. (apologies in advance for the crapness of pictures in this post)

In terms of its layout, to the right of the door is a very high wall showing a mural, I'd like to persuade myself it 's of steelworkers but I couldn't be sure - maybe it shows men lowering a giant Ossett Brewery sign into place? The mural overlooks a spur of seating at the right hand side as you enter, this is replicated on the left. In the meain body of the pub are a number of tables with fixed seating and chairs on the left, then a dividing wall, and another round table and seats. The entrance to the stage area is here on the left, with yet more seating inside, and a large blue edged raised area which I think, must be the stage. This is essentially the front of the building looking out over Devonshire Green, although am not sure if the glass is frosted - otherwise a cold, free gig could be found?

The wall dividing the stage from the bar area is made up of bricks and probably masks, quite well I concede, the fact that its made of less than traditional pub materials. Similarly the beams look like wood but are most likely girders. However, one worthy nod to an old fashioned pub is the splendid bar. In front of the long down lit counter with patterned wood panels along its length is a pleasing and striking carpet of tiling not unlike the great mosaic works of Leeds' finest gin palaces. Above the bar are green lit panels containing bottled beers, hopefully, they are empty, otherwise thats a real waste of ales.

As well as the incongruous drinking lobby I mentioned last time there is the entrance to the disabled loo and the stairs to the others and more seating. Its dark upstairs, one imagines intentionally, but its a nice idea and i hadn' realised there was one on my last visit! The decor is not helpful for the rubbish visioned but there are seats on what are in effect balconies overlooking the stage and the seating in the music area and down below, as well as a cosy room on the end of the upstairs area to your right which looks like its filled with shelves of VHS videos. (alas, too dark, so the below pic is looking directly above the stage)

Back downstairs, there are the regular Osset Ales, and 4 guests on the bar, and the Pyder is obviously on a guest pump as it has now changed into Broadoak perry. My delicious and well kept Sparth Mild was a not unreasonable £2.80 at about 3.5%, and my half of the tremendous Fernandes Hop Master (complete with pump clip displaying fresh green hops) was probably about £3.10 a pint. It was a shame that the Golden Pride had gone as I'd have liked to have tried that, and of course noted its price.

The bottle range includes Timmermans fruit beers, Erdinger and Sierra Nevada amongst many others, and I think the barmaid said the that was only £3.00 a bottle which would make it a very decent price. Overall the bottle range is average but acceptable without being too expensive. Lastly, the wine list is, erm, well, not really so, just a bottle of each style plus an extra white I think. I didn't see what brands they sold but persuaded myself that there would have to be exemplary choices if the one per grape colour plan was going to tempt me to a glass.

Overall they have tried hard to create a traditional feel in an empty retail unit and as far as that's even possible have succeeded, whilst also making it feel comfortable and relaxed, whilst includinga a commendable nod to its musical intentions.

The Hop promises much and at the moment delivers a very good range of real ales, along with a full looking roster of bands to come. The availability of food (especially if the pies form part of the same offer available in Leeds) will be an extra draw, and it always nice to get some decent traditional pub grub in one of the trendier areas of the City. Just knock 30p a pint off the Ossett prices and I think we could have a new contender for best real ale pub around West Street (come on now, there's too much competition to put it that high across the whole of Sheffield).

Hopefully I can get in again soon and sample some more beers, perhaps even trying the Silver King and Excelsior from Ossett, both of which I haven't had for a good while.

Wee Beefy.

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