May – HopJacker Brewery

Monthly specials 2017 continue now with May and the brewery Hopjacker.

I first met Edd at White Lion pub when Jon introduced me to him, I have already tried many Hopjacker before meeting Edd and must say this is one of the exciting breweries of 2017 so far, they do produce excellent ales.

So where are Hopjacker based, well they are in Dronfield and the brewery is based in the Dronfield Arms pub which I haven’t been to yet, but will soon.

 

Now lets get down to asking a few questions.

  1. What got you into the brewing business ?  

Natural progression!  I’ve been working in pubs since I was 18, though didn’t really get into real ale until moving to Sheffield in 2008.  Since then I have worked in some of the best ale pubs in Sheffield.  Thornbridge hired me to run the Greystones for them when they started taking on pubs, and I then took on the Bath Hotel for them.  I’d been home brewing for years by this stage, and during my time working for them I got the opportunity to help out on several brews as well, which really piqued my interest in brewing on a larger scale.

When I heard that my now business partner, Chris, had a space underneath the Dronfield Arms I suggested we build a brewery in there, and two years later here we are!

  1. How did you come up with the name Hopjacker ?

Honestly I’m not even certain any more!  It was suggested in the middle of a long brain storming session and was a name we kept coming back to.  It fit well with the ethos that we went into the business with, hop forward beers, not compromising on flavour – the logo and branding developed from the name and I’m really proud of how its all come together!

  1. You already have one pub can you see yourself expanding more ? Sheffield/Manchester/Leeds

Right now I’m just focussing on producing good beer!  The pub in question is owned by my business partner rather than myself, though is an excellent place to showcase our beers and gives the brewery some guaranteed sales each month.

To be honest, I’m not sure now is the right time to be buying pubs. With VAT still at an all time high, beer duty rising year on year and business rates shooting up, not to mention the increase in minimum wage (a good thing by itself but difficult for pubs when margins are tight) I do worry that we’ll be seeing more and more pubs shut down in the near future.  That said, down the line I would like to be involved with a few micropubs, which, with their lower overheads, offer a really great opportunity if they are done right – the Beer House on Ecclesall road and the Itchy Pig in Broomhill being great examples

  1. Will you be going down the route of bottling your ales ? and do you think they will ever appear in cans ? (the thing of the moment)

We have actually just started bottling our beer! The Kali IPA will be heading out to reputable bottle shops soon!  Bottling beer is very time consuming unfortunately, so we’re planning on only doing some very limited releases of special beers, but I see it as a great way to get our beers out there a little further afield.

Canning is another matter, when done properly canned beer is more stable, with a longer shelflife and preserves flavour better.  Unfortunately the kind of equipment which allows for canning to be done properly is super expensive, and cheaper equipment incorporates more dissolved oxygen and can result in beer going off sooner!  Long story short, we won’t be looking at canning our beer until we can afford to spend £50000 on a canning line, which is unlikely to be any time soon!

  1. I know you have done a few collabs so who have you collab`d with and any collabs planned for the future ?

so far we’ve done collabs with Raw, Steel City, North Riding and Neepsend, as well as with the chaps at The Brothers Arms, Jon from the White Lion and the beer bloggers Two Beer Geeks (is it considered rude to mention other bloggers when being interviewed by a blogger? If so I apologise!) The collab with the brothers arms, Hop Rod, a 7.3% Red IPA, is due to be released next week, and we’ve another collab due with Neepsend in the near future too – the next in our series of breakfast IPAs.  There has been some talk of collaborating with Hopcraft and also Mad Dog brewery, though we haven’t got any definitive plans.

  

  1. Besides your own, which is your fav brewery ? and what is your fav tipple ?

Always difficult to pick a favourite brewery, and a favourite beer depends on what mood I’m in and what time of day!  Weird Beard are certainly up there, as are Marble, and from the more traditional side of things I find it hard to pass by a Pictish beer without having a quick slurp.  That said, if I had to pick just one brewery it would probably be Magic Rock, if only for the Grapefruit Highwire, which I seem to have developed a slight addiction to of late.  I’m fairly sure they add something illicit in it to keep me coming back for more

  1. I know you did a meet the brewer at Sheffield beer week, which I missed, do you have any plans for future meet the brewer, although I seem to see you a lot in White Lion, its like a MTB regularly.

I’ve no plans for a meet the brewer in the immediate future, though I’ll happily talk beer for hours should the opportunity arise!  I tend to go to the White Lion a lot for the same reason you do though Peter, lots of good beer and a friendly atmosphere!

  1. I have seen your ales at beer festivals now which is great, you were at the Barnsley BF and sold out, so have your ales won any BF 1st, 2nd, 3rds awards, also while we are on awards have you won anything else award wise ?

We’ve not actually won any awards!  I try not to be too sore about it, but I’m fairly sure we woz robbed at every beer fest we’ve ever entered!

  1. With be being a big fan of your ales and I seem to know where they are, so do you deliver to any regular pubs ?

Well, we’re well represented in the Heeley triangle, you’ll always find our beer in The White Lion, and often in the Brothers Arms and the Sheaf View, on top of that The Shakespeare and The Beer House take our beer on a regular basis, as well as numerous other pubs within Sheffield!

  1. Tell us a bit about the Dronfield Arms ?, whats it like, how many ales, what other drinks do you do ? (its like plug your own pub time)

The Dronfield Arms is exactly the kind of pub I want to spend time in.  Friendly, welcoming and inviting, with knowledgeable staff who care about the products they sell.  Seven hand pulls, three craft keg, good quality continental lagers, an array of excellent spirits and some very nice wines too! Whilst we don’t do any food other than pork pies and bar snacks, every Thursday we have Proove Pizza doing a popup outside, offering amazing wood fired pizza.

Its always been a pub which thrives mainly on the regulars trade, but in recent months we’ve had more and more people coming up to see the brewery, which is visible through the floor in the pub through a large window, and of course to taste our beer as fresh as possible!

 

I’d also like to take the opportunity to mention the Three Valleys Festival on the 3rd June, which always attracts a massive number of people to Dronfield.  For those who don’t know about it, its a festival spread across 13 pubs throughout Dronfield, with free buses running between all involved.  Last year we had 30 beers on at the Dronfield Arms alone, and sold out, this year we are having 50, including beers from Tempest, Waen, Hopcraft, Weird Beard, Salopian, Wild Beer, Wiper and True, Blackjack, Raw, and many more!  If you want to come along and say hello, I’ll be the chap running around like a headless chicken!

 

You can follow them on Twitter : @HopJacker

You can follow them on Facebook here

Website is here

Dronfield Arms website is here

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