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!
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.
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.
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.
Beer choice/range – 5/5
Ambience – 4/5
Facilities – 2/5
Location – 3.5/5
Pork scratchings – 4/5
Fruli – 0/1
Toilets – 3.5/5
Other – 1/5
Overall – 28/41
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