Wakefield Express pub of the week: The Hop

The Hop Wakefield. Pictured by Will Forrest
The Hop Wakefield. Pictured by Will Forrest

Music and real ale are usually strange bedfellows.

Walk into many a cask pub and the only background noise you hear is the hum of conversation.

But at The Hop on Bank Street it’s a totally different story. The Ossett Brewery owned bar is as much a music venue as it a pub.

Walk in, look left and you are greeted by pictures of Joy Division’s singer Ian Curtis and The Clash’s Joe Strummer. Posters on the wall also tell you which music acts are going to be playing upstairs or downstairs.

As I strolled to the bar I could see the barman queueing up the afternoon’s tunes.

But I was slightly more interested in the mix on the bar. The handpulls were grouped into two sections: the core Ossett range and guest ales.

Last Friday these consisted of Ossett Blonde, Silver King and Excelsior. White Rat was also on from The Rat Brewery, which is part of the Ossett stable.

I chose a half of Excelsior, which I hadn’t had for a while. It’s a strong pale beer at 5.2 per cent made with British malts and American hops.

The guest beers were varied in styles and strengths ranging from 3.5 to six per cent.

They included Jennings Bitter, Welbeck Brewery’s Henrietta Grande, Acorn’s Old Moor Porter and Saltaire’s Stateside IPA.

I went for the Welbeck and the Saltaire and surveyed the long bar from my perch by the mini stage. The bar area was neatly arranged with traditional bar stools and some tables and chairs.

There was plenty of standing room on the approach to the bar, a large snug in the back and a vast patio outside.

My attention then turned to the two stages at The Hop. The downstairs one is mainly used for covers bands at weekends while the upstairs stage is bigger and mainly features touring bands.

The Wakefield Hop was Ossett’s first venture into beer and music. Since then other ‘Hops’ have opened in Sheffield, Leeds, Saltaire and York.

Drew Lunn, the landlord at The Hop Wakefield said: “I think we have got a fantastic range of beers and we’ve got a nice laid back atmosphere. All the staff are cracking.

“We often try and keep the gigs, where possible, free. I think there is a strong correlation between people who are into their ales and music. The two are synonymous.”