Hull – Hop and Vine

I didn’t pay much attention to the exterior of this pub when I went in as it was pouring with rain and I knew I wanted to visit this cellar bar because it’s listed in the Good Beer Guide. By chance and referencing something else, when I was in this pub I mentioned to the landlord that pubs could have a refurbishment, but if they didn’t change the core customer service, products and ambience, then they were wasting their money. A bit like the endless Greene King refits that some of their pubs seem to go through.

And, this pub probably could have done with a refurbishment itself, but it didn’t really need to as its core offering was as close to perfection as I can imagine it can be. But, more on that shortly.

I did notice this when entering and it’s a balanced selection of beers for the small size of the pub. It’s a good idea to put this sign at this particular point, very tempting for potential customers.

A small bar and it has the advantage that the landlord can see customers as they come down the stairs. So he jumps up ready to serve them and offer a friendly welcome. That’s marvellous for a start. And what I will say about the landlord here is that he’s the best I’ve encountered in five years of pub visits and probably several hundred pubs that I’ve been to. Not only was he personable, engaging and welcoming, but it was clear from the other customers that he had also created an atmosphere where customers welcomed each other. There are nearly no pubs that I’ve been to like this, it’s an art form which seems to not even be attempted, let alone perfected.

George Orwell set out his perfect pub in Moon Under Water, but if I was setting out my perfect pub, then it would be something like this. Glorious.

To be honest, even if the beer choice hadn’t have been good, then I’d have still be gushing with praise about this pub. But, the beer choice entirely met my needs, the Old Moor Porter from Acorn. A drinkable beer, slight coffee and vanilla flavours to it, not too heavy.

The one thing that irritated me about this pub is that it isn’t in Norwich, although that is perhaps just a slightly unfair criticism. But, this would be my local if it was in Norwich. They did food such as pie and gravy and some other meals, but I was neither eating and I think that the food wasn’t available during my visit. Either way, the menu options looked marvellous for when they were serving, so it made me like the pub even more.

I’ve been to two other pubs this year that I’d consider exceptional, the Old Post Office in Ingleton, Calverley’s in Cambridge and now this one. How very lovely indeed.