Hop Inn, Newcastle

 

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Pub 23. Hop Inn, Newcastle. 2/5/18

In attendance – DJT, Po, Lockett, Doobs

This is a pub that I’ve not been in before, but had high hopes for on the basis that it appears to have won multiple awards issued by the local CAMRA branch. I was basically expecting it to be a full on old man’s pub with an incredible selection of beer. I mean, it wouldn’t be their 2017 pub of the year if it was a terrible pub, would it?

The pub is on a fairly busy road, which is just about classed as being in Newcastle, but is in walking distance of the Hartshill & Basford areas. There isn’t dedicated car parking and might have to scrabble a bit to find a space on the road but I don’t think it’s a major problem. From the outside, it looks like a decent enough place with white walls and a fairly modern signage. As you enter, there is a room to the left with “lounge” on the door. In reality, as the wooden bar is larger in this area I’d say that it was more of a bar than a lounge but I suppose it doesn’t really matter what you call it these days. It might have something to do with the standard of carpet, but don’t quote me on this.

Straight ahead, I suppose must be the bar but it has more of a lounge feel to it (confused yet?). There is a smaller bar to the left in this area, and quite a decent amount of seating available. On our visit, it was actually pretty busy due to the football being on. In this side room, it appeared to be mainly couples with a slightly older crowd and if anything a bit of a quiet atmosphere, it was hardly “buzzing” but it seemed like everyone was pretty friendly and the vibe was ok. At the end, and to the left, there is a smaller room which had a few seats available, so this is where we planted ourselves. There was an even smaller bar here, but another flat screen TV so we were happy and there is also a dartboard in this area. The pub is actually a lot bigger inside than it looks from the outside but there isn’t a pool table, you can’t vape inside and being a drinker’s pub I don’t think they do food. Overall it is clean and smart, but there is somewhat of the smell of late night drinking, which I’m not complaining about!

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Beer choice is excellent, you won’t find Carling or Coors Light here! There are 3 lagers available, Pravha, Krombacher and Budvar. For the real ales, there is really too much choice to mention, ranging from stouts to IPAs and everything in between (except Fruli, disappointingly). I saw Stowford Press as a cider option, but I’d imagine there would be others. I opted for a pint of Myrcia IPA, which was a really decent pint of beer. 2 pints retailed at £7.80, which is pretty standard nowadays. Pork scratchings were Mr Snacks old fashioned black country pork scratchings, are were really good, and complimented the great beer really well.

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To get to the toilets and smoking area, you go through a passage that had some green carpet and white walls with lots of interesting posters/pictures on the wall. The smoking area is fairly small, at the rear of the pub but it is a decent little area, with a few metal chairs and tables, and the addition of some nice foliage which makes it a pretty pleasant place to be, unless you don’t smoke or vape. There aren’t any heaters, but this would only be an issue when it is a bit colder.

The gents has 4 porcelain urinals, and one cubicle. There is a single sink, but you have to be careful if someone is using the urinal next to it as there’s not a great deal of room to manoeuvre as it’s a bit on the small side. The black and white tiles look smart and it is clean, the cartoons on the walls were a nice touch. The “Air Force” hand dryer was pretty intense.

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Overall then, I can totally understand why the pub has won awards from CAMRA, on the basis of the beer choice and overall vibe of the place. If you are looking for a decent, friendly pub with a wide range of beers, that doesn’t sell Carling and therefore doesn’t have “riff-raff” frequenting it, it’s a very good choice. Granted, if you’re after a game of pool or something to eat, you’d have to look elsewhere but that’s sometimes not the point, is it? I enjoyed the visit, and definitely did not leave disappointed. If anything, I’m looking forward to going again at some point.

DJT

Beer choice/range – 5/5

Ambience – 4/5

Facilities – 2/5

Location – 3.5/5

Locals/Safeness –5/5

Pork scratchings – 4/5

Fruli – 0/1

Toilets – 3.5/5

Other – 1/5

Overall – 28/41

68%

Random Attendee Comments –

“The sink in the toilets is so close to the urinal that you have to spoon a pissing bloke to wash your hands. Good scratchings though. Pork scratchings, I mean. From the bar. There isn’t some bloke in the toilet offering customers a bollock scratch” – Po

“Decent place with a good selection of ales. Good atmosphere for a mid-week. Would go again for a quiet few” – Doobs

 

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