A big thanks to all of you that made it to our birthday micropub over the weekend, we had a great time and judging by the feedback we have received so did all of you. Apologies if you have already seen the photo above on our Instagram or Facebook but we wanted to use it again as it just sums up what we are all about, people having a good time while enjoying a beer or two. That brings me to the main subject for this week which is the first of two pieces about the last three years, being in business and looking to the future. This week Ruth has been doing some reflecting on business and these are her thoughts.
‘Happy Birthday Hop Stop’
I write this sitting in the shop thinking ‘we did it’. The three-year mark was a massive milestone for us (as I am sure it is for many new small businesses) as it takes time to establish, build and grow.
When we first opened we were regularly told that our shop was jinxed as the many businesses before us were short lived. Well we hope that we have proved ourselves and changed that fact and we certainly would not have been able to do that without you, our awesome customers.
We are often asked what made us open a beer shop and pushed us to take the risk in jumping into retail at such a difficult economic time. To be honest we ask ourselves sometimes, but it is easy to remember why.
A huge part was of course the love of beer. I had various jobs after leaving university and I never really felt satisfied in what I did until I managed to get a role at Surrey Hills Brewery. It was being surrounded by beer, a great team and a fun industry that I realised ‘yes I love this’. Why didn’t I just stay working for a brewery or within the beer industry rather than putting everything on the line and start my own business? Maybe the main reason is I wanted the freedom. To never have to answer to anyone or to be told what to do. To have the feeling of being in control of my own future.
Before opening Hop Stop I spent 6 months travelling Europe and America visiting brewery after brewery. I left Surrey Hills knowing I wanted to start my own business in beer, but I was unsure which route to go down. This time allowed me to discover the most amazing places, people and beer styles. It allowed me to let go of my routine lifestyle. I was one of those people who planned what I was going to have for dinner each night of the week. Don’t get me wrong I like to be organised, but I’ve learnt that it isn’t the end of the world if things don’t go to plan or if we don’t have a plan at all.
Once I returned home the hunt was on to find the right unit and more importantly the right business partner. At this point Mike was still living in New Zealand, he and my sister had just had their first baby so I wanted to say ‘hello’ to my nephew. Whilst spending time with Becky and Mike I told them all about my ideas and asked whether they wanted to be involved. I knew Mike was passionate about beer and that they both had thought about relocating to the UK. Amazingly they said ‘yes’ and before we knew it they had packed up their home in Auckland and moved here. Mike arrived in the UK three days before we opened the shop and it sometimes feels like we haven’t stopped since.
Why Oxted? Why a beer shop? We chose Oxted because we felt that we had something to offer the local community. We wanted to help people discover certain beer styles that they were completely unaware of at that time. Think of all the wonderful beers and styles which we have come across – black IPA’s, hazy New England beers, the wild fermented Lambics, Trappist abbey styles brewed by monks, you can get it all here. Why retail? Nothing frustrates me more than bad customer service. This is something I wanted to change. We get so much satisfaction from our customers. We love sourcing new beers for people to try and we love the feedback.
Where to now? Some of you are aware that we are trying to open a bar in Reigate. This has been on-going all year and have been held up by the slow process of working with the Council. We hope that our planning application will be 100% approved soon and we look forward to growing Hop Stop. We will keep you posted on our progress as soon as we get the go ahead.
Before I go and celebrate our milestone with a beer or two I just want to say ‘thank you so much’ to all of you. It has been a pleasure to get to know you over the last three years and we seriously would not be here without your loyalty and support. Cheers!
Next week my turn, although to be honest Ruth has pretty much said it all.
For fans of the apple we now have Silly Moo Cider which hails from Trenchmore Farm, Cowfold, Sussex. The most local cider we stock it is medium dry with a slight sparkle, I reckon it would be an absolute cracking accompaniment to Roast Pork or perhaps a crumbly and tangy farmhouse cheddar. Find out more about Silly Moo and Trenchmore Farm here including details on the chance to turn apples into cider and the amazing looking beef they produce.
Oxted Christmas Light Switch On
Keep Thursday 15th of November free for the Christmas light switch on here in Oxted. Final details are still to be released but from what we have heard there should be plenty of entertainment for all including the all important arrival of Father Christmas. We are planning on getting into the spirit of things, how about another micropub that evening?
This week has been a bumper one for new arrivals so I have thrown caution to the wind and detailed five for your drinking pleasure.
Magic Rock Zenne Like (6.5%) and Guavarita Vice (4.7%)
Magic Rock is one of the most consistently brilliant UK breweries and these two beers just continue that theme. Zenne Like is an IPA with a twist, hoppy as you would imagine but with a Belgian twist thanks to being fermented with Bastogne Belgian Ale Yeast. The beer has a slight dry funk which dances on your tongue in a most pleasant way. Guavarita Vice is a sour loaded with Guava, Lychee, Lime and Thai Basil. Zesty, refreshing, cleansing and fruity there is a lot going on but it all comes together, try it with a rich, coconut based, Thai style curry.
Whiplash Northern Lights 2.8%
Our first beer from Irish Brewers Whiplash Northern Lights adds to the current trend of low strength, hoppy, small beers. Oats and wheat help keep the body from feeling too light and there is enticing tropical aromas and a good hit of bitterness. Fans of the Cloudwater Small series should try this.
Thornbridge Jai Jai 6.7%
At the other end of the scale is the hefty Jai Jai from Thornbridge in collaboration with Cigar City from the States. A big, west coast style hit of punchy pine and resin with a fruit salad aroma. This left a big smile on my face.
Collective Arts Life In The Clouds 6.1%
Another new brewery Collective Arts are based in Ontario and fuse together beer, music and art as a way to promote upcoming artists and to give them a platform for their work. A worthy cause indeed but just as importantly the beer is very tasty. Life in the Clouds features two of our favourite hops; Mosaic and Simcoe. They are layered on a billowing, hazy body which just fills your mouth with all the tropical notes you could desire.
Available Draught Beers
From Friday there will be a choice of Arbor Mosaic Pale or the hefty 360 Brewing APA on cask. If the delivery arrives in time Brew By Numbers Session IPA Mosaic will be joining the Pintle, or will it be a new session pale from one of our favourite breweries……
360 Brewing Pale 3.9% (cask) Light but full bodied golden ale
Burnt Mill Pintle 4.3% (keg) Citra and Cascade pale
Hallets Medium Cider 6% A medium cider funnily enough
Arbor Mosaic 4% (cask) Mosaic single hop pale
360 Brewing APA 5% (cask) Heavily hopped with a bitter finish.
Brew By Numbers Mosaic Session IPA (keg) Mosaic packed session beer.