Almost one month ago, Matthew Pugh opened Hop Lord’s, Worcester’s 1st dedicated craft beer bottle shop and taproom. The place offers a fine range of craft beers and ales, from funky DIPA’s that are becoming crazier and more popular by the minute, to a whole fridge dedicated to traditional Belgian beer. With 250+ cans/ bottles and six taps that are constantly rotating, there’s plenty for everyone.
Matthew has been a publican for almost 14 years;
“I started the Firefly in Worcester 14 years ago, after having it up and running for a couple of years I then opened the Hand in Glove. I then really started getting into beer, especially Belgian beer and started putting them on tap at the Hand in Glove but no one ever really batted an eyelid, so I decided to concentrate my efforts into cask and getting the Firefly into the Good Beer Guide. I then opened the Firefly in Hereford, which is also a great pub!”
Mat’s had the idea of Hop Lord’s in the back of his mind for years…
“The idea came about five years ago, we just never got round to it. Then another bottle shop called Saucy Pears opened and we felt that it would be too overcrowded, but when Saucy Pears closed, I thought why not. The other pubs were being taken care of by management, so I decided in January to start looking for a new place. I came across somewhere in Worcester but luckily I pulled out last minute due to certain ties. I’d already done the groundwork with the shop fitters on stand by so all that I needed was new premises. Then in March I noticed there was a shop right in the middle of town and the tenant above drank in the Fireflies, so I contacted the landlord through him and the landlord virtually gave me the keys straight away.”
Mat says that it has been really busy and the feedback has been tremendous.
“Things are going well but we always knew that it was going to go well with a gap in Worcester’s beer scene for a place like this. We also opened just in time for Worcester Food Festival, which was great but we have plenty more exciting things on the go.”
Hop Lord’s has been received with open arms by the people of Worcester, one customer said that it is “Just what Worcester needs! Superb range of beers, chilled atmosphere!” Another said “Love this place! Unbelievable selection of beers and the guys that run it really know their stuff..”
But the thing that has really caught most people’s attention is their EPIC 500ml “Crowler” system where you can get any of the brews on tap canned before you very eyes… oozing with freshness to wack in your own fridge at home for later!
“People are loving it, most people get one just to see how the machine works!”
Mat has big plans for Hop Lord’s and with taste and quality becoming a big thing, wants to focus on bringing the freshest beer to the people of Worcester…
“I want us to be 100% refrigerated, as it stands we are about 90% of the way there but a big challenge is sorting out the shop’s old cellar to accommodate a cool room, which is a tough gig. At the end of the day, if everything’s been cool stored since leaving the brewery to when it reaches the lips of the customer, then that extra flavour and taste will be preserved. I think this is where the beer world is going and what the beer drinkers of today will really be looking out for in the next 5 years.”
Mat also reckons that the taste of beer drinkers may significantly change too..
“The industry is moving so quickly, sometimes it’s hard to keep up at the moment, but I’m loving everything that DEYA, Cloudwater and Verdant are bringing out. There’s some really mad flavours out there, like hamburgers, chips, milkshake and don’t get me wrong I love the hype stuff but I do really think that people will start going back to basics with no gimmicks, just good solid beer. Sometimes I think where is the traditional German lager or Belgian Dubbel nowadays? This is why I have one fridge solely dedicated to Belgian beer and to be fair this is where my heart really lies. I get customers coming in who really appreciate having a nice traditional brew! This is why I will not only be striving for the variety of cutting edge beers but solid and traditional at the same time.”
Hop Lord’s have just run a Cloudwater tap takeover and they are also planning a tasting evening with local legend and Beer Sommelier Roberto Ross. So now is the time to come down, check it out and see what the hype is all about!