Hop City 2019 – Volunteer Session

Bank Holiday weekends usually go one of two ways; they’re either blessed with glorious sunshine and there are barbecues aplenty or it rains and everyone sulks and hides indoors. With three days of beers, food and music lined up for Hop City 2019 everyone had their fingers crossed that the sun would make an appearance and it didn’t disappoint. But whilst the sun had done its part, I was yet to do mine. Having put my name down to help out, I was offered the chance to volunteer on the Friday day session.

That morning I woke filled with nervous excitement like a kid at Christmas; I had no idea what lay ahead of me or what I would be doing. The closer we got to the Refectory the more I wondered what duties I would be doing, who I would meet and if I would mess up or make a fool of myself. As it happened, I didn’t need to worry…

I was dropped off early so made my way in and offered to help straight away, where I was greeted by Ted and Ruby. Both very friendly and welcoming, they were grateful for the early assistance and gave me a whirlwind tour of the building and layout of the festival. I was then given a volunteer shirt (see below) and got cracked on. I was handed over to Lucy in the Refectory bar who had a to-do list which needed finishing before the doors opened at 12.


I started my day in the sunshine clearing and wiping down tables from the evening session the night before, with temperatures already rising I really wished I had worn shorts! I then moved back inside to help clear and tidy the Refectory bar and Chapter Hall before helping prepare the merchandise to be displayed. The outdoors beckoned once more and I was re-deployed to go hand out glasses to the eager punters queuing to get in. As a fan of beer myself, seeing so many people getting excited about beer was incredible. Some were so excited that they even managed to drop their glass before a beer had graced its presence!

From there on, I spent most of my time back inside helping pour in the Chapter Hall first starting with Soma and Burning Sky before then moving onto Equilibrium all of whom were very grateful for the help and engaging throughout the session. Once I got to the Equilibrium stand, time instantly passed me by. Will (Brewer for Equilibrium) was full of energy, despite his mega hangover, and eager to get beer into the hands of his punters. He seemed to have an endless supply of bottles and cans which he was pouring, living up to his motto of ‘Let’s f*****g go!’

No sooner had Cold Fusion run out and Barry Knows went on there was a queue to the door, everyone wanting a piece of Barry; their four berry sour. Enlightening us to the naming process and brewing process, Will’s passion shone through all session and he seemed to have some sort of beer-celebrity effect on everyone! No sooner had I joined him (so it seemed) last orders were called and, despite having people left wanting more, we had to call time there. Not before he shared the last bits of what was left of Laboratory Waves that is…

With that, it was time to tidy up and make way for the next session and also the next batch of volunteers. In truth, I could have stayed for the second session too as time flew by and I enjoyed every minute of it. All the staff there made the day so easy and, more importantly, fun. Yes we were there to work when all’s said and done but it didn’t even feel like work, keeping my pipe dream of working in beer well and truly alive for the foreseeable. Thank you to Northern Monk for having me and giving me the opportunity and thank you to all the staff as well. As far as I could tell, the day ran seamlessly with no overly long queues or people left waiting or missing out on beers they were looking for.

Here’s to Hop City 2020…

4 thoughts on “Hop City 2019 – Volunteer Session

  1. Totally agree with your observations Stephen. Me and my better half volunteered for the Friday evening session and it was a great experience. I was deployed to the Northern Monk bar so had 16 keg and 2 cask taps on the go while my partner spent most of her shift with Will and Anthony (Equilibrium and Other Half) she said they were great to work with.
    Like you we’re not big fans of sours but the bottled Austin sours from Equilibrium were a turning point!
    We were drinking at the Saturday evening session – I think you were there too? Catch you volunteering at a future festival now I can put a name to a face…
    Cheers, Mark

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Mark, yes I was at the Saturday evening session as well! Shame we didn’t manage to meet up or volunteer on the same session as it would have been great to meet up and have a good chat.

    I’ll definitely be volunteering again in the future at some of the other beer festivals out there for sure, it was a really good day. If you’re from Leeds or nearby then we will have to catch up and have a drink at some point in the future 🙂


    1. Hi Stephen. I’m based in South Wales – Tiny Rebel is my nearest brewery. We will be up to Liverpool at the end of June for the Craft Beer Expo, drinking this time, not volunteering! If you’re going to Liverpool or ever down my way then definitely catch you for a drink and a chat. Cheers.


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