Beer Featured Opinion

HOPS Isle of Man: The Beginnings

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

HOPS Isle of Man: The Beginnings

Opening and running a bar is easy, right? It’s one of those things we’ve all thought we could do at one point.

You’ll likely not be surprised to hear, it’s not as easy as people think. Of course, they all have their opinions. I’ve had them in many places myself. That doesn’t mean you’re right!

Our craft beer articles in our magazine are written from Isle of Man, with the writer having lived there for the last 12 years.

It’s also where our story begins, on this subject.

Running a business has long been something I’d thought of. Initially, I thought that only a very talented individual could do that. I learned that wasn’t necessarily the case, shall we say. However to run a business well, yes, that does take a talented individual or team.

I’d held the notion that I’d like to have my own place doing craft beer for the longest time. There are still not enough places to drink it in the UK, despite numerous breweries having opened, there are still few actual bars dedicated to it. Even on a recent trip to Scotland, there were a few bars but they all either seemed to be serving the same thing or, despite having a high number of taps, not a lot of choice.

In the early stages of planning this venture, craft beer was solely what was on my mind. As ever, when I started to do the sums, I quickly realized that alone probably wasn’t going to pay the bills. It was around that time I met my wonderful wife Hazel, who just so happened to specialize in whisky.

I hear you ask, as a Scotsman, why weren’t you thinking about whisky already? The truth? Well, I had only really started drinking whisky, let alone thinking whisky, at the start of this journey. My experience of it until then was waking up young to the aftermath of Scottish New Year parties. It is known as Hogmanay. There was a collective mass of sleeping bodies. The Scottish don’t get the 2nd of January as a public holiday for nothing, you know!


It was during that time I stumbled across some bottles, usually open but not finished. You can imagine what’s coming next, dear reader. These bottles were tried. These bottles were normally labelled Bells, or some other whisky. They aren’t to my palate now and certainly weren’t back then. I won’t say what age I was, although let’s just say it was a long time ago.

The more we thought about the venture, the more it became apparent that the Isle of Man is missing something. There’s certainly nowhere to go and drink craft beer. Not what I know of as craft beer anyway. A beer brewed by Heineken, regardless of how good it used to be before they acquired the brand, is not craft beer, in my eyes, or many others for that matter.

Then there’s the inevitable hunt for a premise that will be suitable. It’s a difficult one I can tell you. Location is obviously key for any hospitality venture. Some may be well-known enough to circumnavigate that, we certainly weren’t. Months down the line, some people still don’t know we’re here.

Then a break. A chance call from a local estate agent (realtor to most reading this). They had a place that they’d only just got the keys to.

On viewing, all seems great. Location, tick. Needs a bit of work admittedly. Inside. Well a lot of work, as a roof was missing! It was going to be some time. That however seemed like an opportunity to accumulate as much savings as possible. The work was going to be undertaken by the landlord to a high standard. OK, well we can wait.

Then the long-awaited day comes. Be mindful this is between getting married, arranging for Hazel to move to the Isle of Man from New York, and having a full-time job. It’s a lot to do.

I walk by the premises each and every day. The dream is getting closer. Now a final push on it to bring it up to speed, and it will be handed over to us. It’s all too good to be true right? Well yeah, right.

The place is handed over and it all looks fine. There’s a flat (apartment) upstairs which is also ours. Condition of the lease. Not an issue, as we’ll need somewhere to live anyway. It could be in better condition, it could be in worse condition.

A bar is installed. It’s starting to look like a bar now. The inside is finished. It’s looking ok. Now the outside, and disaster strikes………………







To find out why, you’ll have to read the next in this series of articles, to follow…




Comments are closed.