Well, after much talk for many months, I finally attended the HOPS beer night in Hobart to have a sociable beer with Willie and see how their night compares to our own Ale Star sessions. Along for the ride came JJ and fellow Ale Stars Mark and Stephen from Cats Art.
HOPS (or Hobart Organoleptic PractitionerS) is a regular gathering of beer fans in Hobart that recently celebrated its SIXTH year.. The main man who runs the show is beer author, beer journalist and brewery Willie Simpson (or Baron Wilhem von Biermeister as he calls himself!).
It's not unusual for them to have 90+ punters turn up (the last meeting they turned 20 people away) so having braved a Tiger budget flight from Tullamarine, we got to the New Sydney Hotel (publican: Big Al) good and early. The New Sydney is regarded as THE place with the greatest beer selection in town and it had a great 'locals' atmosphere.
The HOPS gathering was, by their standards, a smaller turnout of 65 or so people but the people I spoke to thought his number was better and allowed for more mingling (and beer for them I imagine)..
The showcased beers on tap were Hazards Ale (an old HOPS favourite and Tassie’s oldest craft brew), White Rabbit, Seven Sheds Elephants Trunk (strong Belgian style ale) and Van Dieman Pale Ale from Tassie’s newest craft brewery. For the record, the blow-ins unanimous favourite was Willie's own Elephant Trunk (and that's not currying favour)..
The main difference between an Ale Star and HOPS session was the focus more on drinking and less on appreciation/learning at the latter. They literally only move on to the next beer when the 50 litre keg is emptied! That means a considerable amount of beer is drunk during the night - and the HOPSters love it..
It was a very sociable and fun night that continued downstairs in the public bar after the formalities were over.. Thanks to Willie and the HOPSters for having us. We hope we can return the hospitality some time soon..