Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Crafty Idea Sees Brothers Open Town's First Micropub; the Micropub Revolution Has Found Its Way to Ashington with the Opening of Hop 77, Based at a Site Which Is No Stranger to History. MIKE KELLY Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Crafty Idea Sees Brothers Open Town's First Micropub; the Micropub Revolution Has Found Its Way to Ashington with the Opening of Hop 77, Based at a Site Which Is No Stranger to History. MIKE KELLY Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: mike.kelly

LOCALS of a certain age visiting Hop 77 in Ashington might remember it in a past life for very different reasons.

For many years it was the one of the district offices of the Chronicle and Journal, many of whose staff have enjoyed a tipple from time to time.

So maybe it's appropriate the building is in the news again as home to what is believed to be the town's first micropub.

The name is part inspired by its location - 77 Station Road - and it is the brainchild of Rob Lowdon, following in the footsteps of like-minded people he has met at some of his favourite hostelries.

They included the "Beer-muda Triangle" in Whitley Bay, one of a number of micropubs now springing up all over the North East.

The discussions planted the seed for Hop 77, recalled Rob, and the final push came when he was made redundant from his job about a year ago. Rob approached his brother, John Lowdon, and asked if he'd be interested in joining his journey into the micropub world.

As the brothers share the same passion for beer, the answer was a resounding yes, and a search ensued to find a suitable spot within Ashington.

The brothers recognised that the area has had its fair share of knocks in recent years, and figured a micropub in the town could be the catalyst needed to reverse the town's fortunes - much the same as Whitley Bay's micropubs.

Some modest savings and a muchneeded - and welcomed - investment from the brothers' mum meant that, once the premises on Station Road had been discovered, the ball could get rolling on a makeover - "or 'makeunder' as the case may be," said Rob. "Peeling away the layers of wallpaper and wall boards resulted in the chance find of some retro wood panelling that had to stay.

"With a few coats of paint and some rudimentary woodworking to construct a bar, the pub was ready for opening in little over eight weeks."

However, they know looks aren't everything when it comes to making a success of it.

"The focus has always been on serving the best beer possible," Rob says, "the decor has been secondary Turn to Page 46 From Page 45 and is still a work in progress. …

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