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Removing barriers in the beer industry – celebrating 10 years of Hop Hideout

Now approaching a decade since its formation, there aren’t many independent businesses out there that have left such an indelible mark on the Sheffield beer scene as Hop Hideout. Last month, we caught up with owner Jules Gray to discuss reaching this significant milestone, reflecting on the progress made over ten years and how there are plenty of fresh ideas still left in the (beer) tank! 

With craft beer, micropubs and drink-in beer shops being a fairly common sight throughout Sheffield, it’s easy to forget that once upon a time, they weren’t such a ubiquitous amenity. It follows, then, that beer lovers throughout these seven hills owe a mighty hat tip to pioneers like Hop Hideout, a key player in opening the gateway for funky IPAs, rich stouts and tangy sours to flood into the Steel City. 

Beginning life as a pop-up in the back of an antiques centre on Abbeydale Road, this “labour of beery love”, as Jules calls it, moved to a nearby café space in 2015, where she opened one of the country’s first drink-in beer shops. Hop Hideout became synonymous with the city’s growing craft beer scene, showcasing local breweries as well as stocking hundreds of beers from across the UK, and indeed the globe, before its popularity necessitated a move to a bigger space at the Grade-II listed Kommune food hall in 2019. Today you can pop in and browse 200+ refrigerated beers (rising to 300 if you include the additional downstairs storage) alongside a meticulously curated range of draught beer, farmhouse ciders and natural wines. 

Hop Hideout is based in Kommune, a popular food hall space in Sheffield city centre. Photo: Mark Newton

“It’s been great to have the support of Sheffield people over the years, and we hope that it continues because it’s really hard for independent businesses out there,” says Jules. “We’ve had fantastic regular support and are always meeting new customers along the way, so I think people really appreciate the commitment to quality and the ethos behind what we do.”  

That ethos revolves around taking a conscientious approach to the producers they stock, championing women and minority-owned businesses in the beer industry and creating a genuine sense of community at home through regular events, the latter of which range from  running and walking clubs to their standout Sheffield Beer Week event – a citywide beery celebration involving up to 40 venues hosting a diverse range of activities such as beer festivals, tastings, tap takeovers, brewery tours and Q+As with industry experts. 

The much-loved annual occasion, which takes place in March each year, is opened up in style by the Indie Beer Feast – a two-day event in a city centre venue which features 19 handpicked breweries, plus a selection of street food, low-intervention wine and cider. Pop-up tastings are hosted by renowned beer writers and speakers while attendees mingle, whet their whistles and get into the spirit of things.

Sheffield Beer Week kicks off each year with a two-day craft beer festival called Indie Beer Feast. Photo: Mark Newton

 “I think what I’ve always hoped for, and worked towards, is being able to help make the beer scene a more approachable, welcoming, diverse space to be,” reflects Jules. “Of course, I want to get across my passion for beer and the quality being produced by independent breweries, cider producers and small wineries. But as well as that, a big part of the drive is ensuring we have a broad appeal to a wider audience. No barriers.” 

Always keen to share knowledge, Jules, who is a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers, has been recognised for her informative blogs (some of which have featured in this very magazine, no less!), and Hop Hideout regularly hosts tasting sessions so people can come and learn about the process and tasting profiles of various beer, ciders and low intervention wines. Throw in commercial TV and radio appearances, plus a wide variety of podcast appearances, and you certainly can’t say she doesn’t put the time into spreading the beery word!  

I think what I’ve always hoped for, and worked towards, is being able to help make the beer scene a more approachable, welcoming, diverse space to be

With the big 1-0 just around the corner, Jules tells us that she won’t be resting on her laurels. As has been the case since its formation, Hop Hideout will continue to adapt, grow and innovate. A milestone birthday celebration beckons and a special brewing collaboration is on the cards (they hosted a memorable Bill Murray beer-themed bash for their 5th-year soiree), but we’re also told that further expansion is a goal, if and when the right taproom location is found, so don’t be surprised to see a second venue pop up in the not too distant future! 

Who knows what the future could hold for Hop Hideout? A second venue, perhaps? Photo: Mark Newton

But in the meantime, you can pay homage to a true trailblazer on the Sheffield beer scene by paying a visit in person or ordering a box via their online shop (www.hophideout.co.uk). Time to raise a glass to another ten years of commitment to community, good causes and superb drinks!

Hop Hideout
Unit 11, Kommune, 1-13 Angel St, S3 8LN
www.hophideout.co.uk
@hophideout

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