My Saturday morning pretty much began the same way my Friday morning had; I was excited yet nervous again about Hop City. Not about my own performance this time, but I was excited to try more beers with the same fine folks there again and also nervous as to what would be left! The Saturday evening session is billed as the best to attend due to the atmosphere and, with it being the last session, everything must go!
Knowing how some of the beers had been received and consumed however, I was hopeful that some of the beer I was hoping to try was still there. As it happens, there was beer aplenty left and everyone was on fine form once more. We headed over early to get a decent spot in the queue where we bumped into fellow beer fan Alex (aghobson on Twitter and Instagram) and stuck together the entire evening. Having never met before, we got on like a house on fire and just chatted beer all night which was excellent. This again is testament to the beer community as two complete strangers can meet up and instantly hit it off.
With myself and Alex having volunteered over the course of the festival, we knew exactly what beers were popular and what was in short supply. There was only one place we were heading first and that was the top floor; the home of the big boys. Once again I found myself in the company of the big-hitters from America meeting up with Will from Equilibrium once more and hitting up the likes of Hudson Valley, Other Half and Bissell Brothers along the way.
The hive of excitement on this floor was once again almost un-containable and I think the brewers were all excited to share their beers, but also glad that three jam-packed days were almost over! Given that there are only four hours to a session, you have to make the most of your time and no sooner have you got your first beer you are already looking onto your next one. Trying to be tactical and work your way from a low ABV to start with before moving onto stronger beers goes out of the window here; you get what you can get your hands on.
That being said, I can’t say that I left disappointed having not tried any of the beers that I was looking for. In some ways, my choices being left to chance probably meant that I tried more beers on a whim that I may not otherwise have had. This can certainly be said for the sour beers that I tried which, this may come as a shock, were probably the beers of the festival for me. Breaking up that pattern of sipping IPA’s all night was so refreshing and deadly, they were so drinkable!
After we had gotten our fills of the beers from upstairs, we moved downstairs to the first floor to get beers from some more familiar faces such as Cloudwater, Northern Monk, Magic Rock and Mikkeller. This floor seemed to be a little quieter and we managed to have a few beers in relative peace with the table in the centre of the room proving to be a great leaning spot. Whilst there was a lot of buzz and hype around the guys from the US, it was nice to see the local stands busy with plenty of people still wanting to get some home-grown beers. Soon, the beers started to catch up so we headed out for some food before making our way back in to grab some more brews before the 10pm deadline.
No sooner had I got my final drink of the night (a Verdant beer, of course) it was nearly time to make a hasty retreat and head on into town. Before we left and I finished my Too Many Opinions, we met up with Terry (@beerwithfeather on Twitter) and had a good natter with him. Having traveled up from Hampshire, it was good to meet someone from further afield and talk about their beers of choice and their local beer scene. Once our drinks were finished that, sadly, was that and Hop City 2019 came to a close. I only wish it could have lasted longer and the sessions be even an hour longer but I came away happy with what I had, who I had met and the memories I had made.
Once again, thank you to Northern Monk for putting on such a special event and also giving me the opportunity to be part of it. I think I can speak for everyone who attended and volunteered that it ran like clockwork and it really was a testament to the craft beer scene as a whole.