Just when we thought nothing could help Wesselényi Street and its dime-a-dozen pubs, the District VII location has surprised us again. HOPS Beer Bar is an exciting new spot, filling a gap in the party district, where we can drink special imported beers.
We noticed a simple black gate right next to the London Stone English mini pub. We glimpsed inside during the daytime, and our curiosity was immediately triggered by the sight of classy porcelain beer taps and the wallpaper made of beer coasters. When we made time to visit, we didn’t know we were about to uncover one of our new favorite places.
HOPS was the idea of brothers Gergő and Zoltán, who, after years of “excruciating” testing, decided to open their own bar in the heart of the party district. They began their business with advice from their dad, who had much experience in hospitality, which is apparent the moment you set foot in the parlor. It is not only the jovial interior and the extremely wide beer selection, but the pleasant service that draws your mouth to a smile. Staff members are likely to recognize you if you have visited before, and they might even remember what you ordered. The guys are all attention and expertise.
It is important to point out that the interior is also a work of art by the brothers and their friends. The furniture is clean-cut, made of durable wood, mirroring the black of the entrance. The wall, on the other hand, couldn’t be more colorful. What seemed like wallpaper from the outside is in fact a covering of beer coasters. Stuck on one by one, it took the guys three weeks to get thousands of the paper squares affixed on the wall. Since HOPS also has an upper story, the ground floor, which is dominated by the bar, is more homey and intimate. The ceiling also has a special covering: instead of a simple layer of paint, it is covered in old sacks for hops. Everything revolves around beer here.
The focus on beer means that there are only a few obligatory bottles of spirits, and no wine whatsoever. Instead, they made an agreement with the wine-themed spot across the road that wine lovers can bring their glasses to join beer friends. They have ideas and tips from beer distributors, like Beer Board, and the other major imported-beer bars, such as Matróz kocsma Söntése, Csak a jó sör!, and Snaps Galéria. We are increasingly smitten with this phenomenon in Budapest, where the staff and experts of a trade (like baristas and bartenders) nurture good relations.
Photo: László Balkányi/We Love Budapest 10 pictures
Now we’re done with the foreplay, so let’s get down to the beer! HOPS doesn’t want to narrow down the selection to one country, so they offer Belgian, American, Scottish, German, Dutch, Austrian, and Czech suds specialities to everyone’s satisfaction. Some adore IPA, others love Belgian beer, and everyone is welcome here. The selection is more than fantastic, since they have 130 types of bottled and eight types of draft beer. They’d go as far as 150 types or more, if they found new items worth adding to the drink card.
They sell the entire collection of the Scottish Brew Dog, including the popular “Brixton Porter” (1,090 HUF); we tasted a red ale mixed with maple syrup by Anchor (1,190 HUF); the 8.4%, full-bodied and strong Zwart & Wit dark IPA by the Dutch brewery De Molen (1,290 HUF); and we loved the pig-bottle Easy IPA by the American Flying Dog (1,290 HUF).
We tasted two special items as well: Brew Dog’s Pumpkin Head (1,090 HUF), a pumpkin-and-spice ale, and the smokiest beer we’ve ever had – the Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen (990 HUF). This is a lager with a bean-soup taste (jokes aside). It is as if the beer was smoked over bacon, which might sound bizarre, but if you think about it, it’s a wonderful two-in-one manifestation of Hungarian cooking nights.
There are fruity creations, like the entire range of Floris (990 HUF), the passion fruit and apple variation of HOPS and the coconut Mongozo (990 HUF). Good news for people with a gluten intolerance – there’s gluten-free Mongozo pils (990 HUF).
Photo: László Balkányi/We Love Budapest 7 pictures
It is a great place to try new beer, to chat, to watch sports broadcasts, or even to take a date. Gergő told us that luckily, girls also sit down for a good double brown or an unbelievably peachy Bush Pêche Mel. Although it’s just over a month old, HOPS already has regulars, and now they can count us in too.