THIS week I embark on a beery mission into valley. The Rossendale Valley and the town of Rawtenstall to be precise. My mission was to hunt down the recently opened, Hop micro-bar, situated on Bank Street in the centre of the town.
As both me and my good friend, John Ingham, entered this relatively small, immaculately presented contemporary bar. I thought how our drinking culture may be changing. And how these one room drinking dens appear to be altering our beery landscape.
Micro-bars are now dotted across our locality. They offer a tranquil environment where beer and conversation is paramount. And this fledgling watering hole was one shining example of why the march of the micros continues a pace.
We were met by a welcoming and smiley host, Michelle Morris. Michelle, along with hubby, Andrew, are the co-owners. They offer an excellent range of beverages. Blimey, six cask ales and six keg conditioned lines.
Michelle said: “We have five rotating cask ales. Plus a permanent beer, namely, Deeply Vale, Hop - it’s a light and refreshing session ale. All the beers prove popular and the lighter ales fly out. “
Well, the cask ale line-up looked impressive. We had a half of all six on offer - it would have been rude not to. For me, the Raw, Blonde Pale Ale and Dark Star’s, Hophead, came out tops. But all six got the thumbs up from both me and John.
Michelle added: “It’s mainly cask ale and gin. We have 22 different gins. We also stock a good range of continental beers. The craft canned beers also sell well and Stone, Magic Rock, Beavertown and Sonic 45 prove the most popular.
“We have had a great response from the public since we opened in December. We have sold 271 barrels of beer which includes 109 of Deeply Vale, Hop. The 100th barrel was consumed after 90 days of trading and we celebrated by charging £1.10p a pint - half the normal price.”
There was an excellent buzz about the place. A group of regulars were exchanging friendly banter and were keen to involve us in their social interaction - and comment on their pearls of wisdom.
Away from the bar chatter, there is a seated area upstairs. Ideal for those who may prefer a more tranquil environment. The Hop also boasts a walled beer at the rear of the bar - quite a unique feature in the micro-bar experience.
The peckish patron is also catered for. We sampled one of their delicious pork pies. Supplied by Harrison’s Butchers just across the road. Mind you, we did swerve the two large jars of pickled eggs on the bar.
The Hop micro-bar was one impressive, cheery and homely establishment. It ticked all the boxes. Full marks to affable mine host, Michelle, who made you feel most welcome.
And to quote an Arnold Schwarzenegger catchphrase: “I’ll be back”.