For most of the breweries and bars taking part, London Beer Week was a chance to smarten up and look their best – an approach taken quite literally by Jack Daniel’s and Innis & Gunn’s Craft of Gentlemen event. Not so for Hobo, who decided to take after their namesake and adopt a more down to earth approach for their pop-up saloon in Soho, just off the glittering lights of Carnaby Street.
Named after the American migratory workers of old – think bindle sticks and hitching rides on trains – Hobo opted for a rather low-key aesthetic of barrels and crumpled up beer cans. They took the association one step further however, inviting London Beer Week fans to bring along their own food at lunchtime to enjoy alongside a can of the craft lager. More adventurous drinkers could also sample a boilermaker – a beer accompanied by a shot of whiskey, in this case Woodford Reserve bourbon.
Hobo itself is a craft lager, doing its best to stand out in the current pale ale-dominated craft beer market. Though created in part by British drinks writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham (aka The Thinking Drinkers) the beer is made in the Czech Republic, placing it firmly in the fine lineage of pilsners. It has a strength and depth of flavour that might surprise those who’ve written off lager, though here it’s bitterness that lingers, rather than the floral flavours you’re likely to find in your average craft IPA.
The pairing with Woodford Reserve is a striking one, with the bourbon’s smokey sweetness cutting through the bitter notes of Hobo, softening the lager’s harsh edges. If you prefer the citrus and floral flavours to be found in most IPAs, or the smokier side of a porter or stout, you might still find Hobo slightly thin in flavour. But if you’re looking to graduate from Peroni to something with more clout, or are growing tired with other craft options like Camden Hells or Pistonhead, you won’t go wrong with Hobo.