Green, Hoppy Shoots

A portion of one wall of Sheffield's Hop Hideout.
A portion of one wall of Sheffield’s Hop Hideout.

Sheffield’s Hop Hideout is probably the smallest beer shop I’ve been in. It’s also one of the loveliest, set in one corner of the ground floor of a building full of independent retailers (the Antiques Quarter). It’s a bit like walking through the house from kids TV favourite Finders Keepers, except if the unseen owners of the house were all into vintage clothes and art prints and beer, and every cupboard didn’t explode its contents into a child’s face. Each room full of quirky goods bleeds into the next, reminding me of another TV show from my youth – The Crystal Maze. I think it’s that word ‘Hideout’ that I really like – it suggests something special, a secret treasure for friends to share.

Hop Hideout is a cracking little shop, packing hundreds of beers from around the world into a space smaller than most people’s box rooms. Whether it’s Belgian or German classics you’re after, or the very latest cans from London or California, owners Jules and Will have it covered. They invited Craig Heap and I to do a beer talk/tasting thing (our first ever) just over a week ago, taking place at the Electric Candlelight Cafe in the room next to the shop. We had a great time doing our talk (a tasting through the history of IPA in six beers, with cheese paired to each), and the event attracted a diverse crowd in terms of people and beer knowledge. There were a few regulars among the attendees, and a friendly, informal vibe that suggested a sense of community that really stuck with me.

The pub next door, The Broadfield, had a great range of keg and cask beers on, and a separate dining area propping up its gastropub image. The pub reopened in its current guise just a couple of years before Hop Hideout did, and the pair have formed the nucleus of a small-but-growing craft beer ‘hub’ in the Abbeydale Road area. The area itself is cheap and cheerful for the most part, reminding me of places in Wakefield and Leeds where I lived whilst I was at university and afterwards. But around Hop Hideout, the green, hoppy shoots of a healthy beer scene seem to already be sprouting.

Nearby, an old cinema’s basement is the location for a new bar, Picture House Social, which has asked Hop Hideout to curate a small, rotating beer list for them.  Staff and customers from ‘The Broady’ pub are regularly found perusing the shelves at Hop Hideout on their breaks or after a drinking session at the pub. It all speaks of a communal closeness, something I really enjoy seeing in modern beer culture. The shop is that special treasure, tucked away, reverently enjoyed by those that know where to find it. Many of the nation’s best-loved beer shops started out in much the same way, so I’ve got high hopes for Hop Hideout.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on the the progress of this little Sheffield craft beer microcosm, and I look forward to seeing how it’s grown the next time I visit.

If you find yourself in Sheffield, the 218 bus from the Howard Hotel bus stop opposite the train station will get you to Hop Hideout in about 15 minutes. Oh, and the pies in The Broady come highly recommended.

Author: Chris Hall

London-based freelance beer writer and blogger. Member of the British Guild of Beer Writers. Co-author of 'Craft Beer: 100 Best Breweries in The World' On Twitter @ChrisHallBeer.

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