Hop City has returned for its second year at Northern Monk Brew Co. Having missed out last year I was super excited to get my hands on a Saturday evening ticket (cheers Rat!). With hoppy and hazy beers being my preference and tickets selling out in advance I was expecting greatness.
The line-up this year showcases beers from a number of breweries. In The Brewery are Bissell Brothers, Fuerst Wiacek, Equilibrium, Siren Craft Brew, Beavertown, Omnipollo, Five Points & Deya. The Refectory will be hosting Mikkeller & Warpigs, Dry & Bitter, Magic Rock, Burning Sky, Whiplash, and of course Northern Monk Brew Co themselves. In the Chapter Hall will be Foam Brewers, Other Half, Zapato, Brew By Numbers, Cloudwater, Verdant, Wylam, Stone Brewing, Buxton, Track, Fourpure, Burnt Mill, Left Handed Giant, Seven Island & Stigbergets. There’s also a ‘Local Heroes Bar’ featuring local breweries such as Ilkley Brewery, Ridgeside Brewery, Wilde Child, Kirkstall Brewery, North Brewing, Legitimate Industries & Saltaire Brewery. Just a few then… 😅
Upon arrival we were given our Hop City glass and had chance to purchase some beer tokens. One beer token equals one third of any beer which keeps things straightforward. Luckily our queue outside wasn’t too long and we were straight into The Brewery to get things started.
It was straight to the Beavertown stand for my first beer. The two beers on by them were Subatomic (in collaboration with Half Acre) and their new one, Why-o Must I Cryo which I ended up going for as it sounded right up my street, plus it has been brewed especially for this year’s Hop City event so it might not be seen again. At 7.4% it was a good one to get up and running with, brewed with Simcoe, Citra, Azacca and Lemondrop hops.
Next up I went for DEYA’s Invoice Me For The Microphone. I had good hopes for this one after seeing reviews over the previous days at Hop City. Pouring like orange juice and at 6.5% this was one super juicy beer!
Still on the first floor in The Brewery I just had to pay Omnipollo a visit. I was disappointed last time I headed to Buxton Tap House and missed the soft serve collab. This time however I was in luck. I went for their peach slush IPA called Shoutao. All in all the beer was pretty average by my taste. It was also fairly watery for a 7% beer but that could just have been from the ice cream to be honest. Omnipollo do more amazing beers than this. The soft serve style beers seems to be all hype and not much hops.
We ventured upstairs to The Refectory and I went straight for the Local Heroes bar. Paying Saltaire Brewery a visit I gave their Project X a try, a New Zealand style pale ale. I’ll be honest, if I was blindfolded and given this I would not have expected it to be from Saltaire at all. A well-deserved 3.5/5 for me. I would have tried Project Y as well but it wasn’t pouring whilst we were there. Maybe next time I see it. Hopefully there’ll be more of this from Saltaire in the future.
Now if you know me personally you’ll realise I’m a bit of a Mikkeller fanboy. My love for them grew even more after a solo trip to Copenhagen, stopping off at Mikkeller & Friends and also the glorious Warpigs brewpub. Obviously I had to venture over the room then to get an Opposite Optimist. Juicy, juicy, juicy! Definitely a 4.75/5. Either I’m extremely biased or the Mikkeller & Warpigs combo continues to reign.
I managed to squeeze in a Mind Control from Magic Rock. It’s getting difficult now to find unique Magic Rock beers I’ve not tried yet, but this was one. An 8% double IPA beast. Very enjoyable! I wouldn’t expect anything less from Magic Rock. (Also, thanks for the free stickers and badges guys!)
Up another level to the top floor Chapter Hall, and straight to Verdant, another of my favourites and legends at creating those heavy, juicy and super hazy beers. I was not disappointed. Fruit, Car, Sight, Exhibition is everything I love about these beers. There was no hesitation at all for the 5/5 rating. Definitely beer of the night for me. Fantastic! Screw unique hunting – just give me this repeatedly on a drip…
I couldn’t leave out Mancunian favourites Cloudwater, so went for a pouring of their DDH IPA Citra BBC. Another juice bomb, but less than the Verdant at only 6.5%. This didn’t affect a thing however, still getting a 4.75/5 from me. A great beer! Forget the top shelf – the top floor seems to be where it’s at.
We were getting short on time, with the evening session coming to an end. We managed to squeeze in one last beer back on the first floor. Hard To Explain by German FUERST WIACEK (Yes, we did have several attempts at trying to pronouce that…). It’s not hard to explain this beer though – tasty as hell! A super hoppy beer combining Columbus BBC, Galaxy & Mosaic hops and sitting at 7%.
All in all a fantastic night round at Northern Monk’s gaff. Chatting to some of the people there it seems the showcase draws people in not only locally but from all over the UK. The venue was busy but not overly crammed, especially for a Saturday evening. Getting to all the stands was easy enough with minimal waiting. I just wish I’d have had more time to sample even more beers on show as I’m sure I’d have found loads more favourites.
It really is great to see so many amazing breweries heading to Leeds to showcase these hop-forward beers. I’m sure Dark City will return again at the end of this year, the total flip reverse of the hoppy showcase. Long may Hop City continue!