Hippo Beers opened in the West End of Glasgow a few years ago, quickly establishing itself as a decent bottle shop.
It has since branched out into beer events and festivals, so I guess the logical next step to showcase its wares was a bar.
And so a smart new venture, simply called Hippo Taproom, has just opened in Glasgow.
The street-level entrance on Sauchiehall Street is low-key and would be easy to miss.
A dark, winding staircase leads down into the basement-level bar. Any degree of apprehension at what awaits – not helped by the spooky stairs – quickly vanishes.
It’s a classy place – a little dark perhaps, but nicely done. It’s a long, low space with plenty of booths and tables – an old-fashioned snapshot of a bygone time, but not dated.
The beer selection is – as you would hope – good. There’s a strong selection of draught beers. Nothing rare to appease beer geeks, but, equally, nothing you’d want to avoid. As the wi-fi password proudly proclaims, there’s “nae Tennent’s”.
So there are offerings from Alechemy, Buxton, Ilkey, Swannay and Tryst. All decent stuff, and all British. I was just planning a quick visit, but ended up staying longer than I planned – always a good sign – to work through some of the beer list.
The Ilkley Alpha Beta (£4.90 a pint) to start is okay, although the hop bitterness is maybe too ramped-up for a session beer without something more to push against it. The Alechemy Breakneck (£3.80 a half) is better: a big, bruising 7.5 ABV double IPA that’s still light and drinkable. The Swannay Bitter Milk (£4.40 a pint) is satisfying, and the dark and boozy Unfinished Impathy from Alechemy (£3.60 a third) is the perfect way to round off my visit.
As you would expect, an excellent selection of bottles and cans supplements the draught. There’s food too, with a focus on burgers and Mexican.
The staff are efficient – a minor issue with the price of my order is dealt with quickly and politely – and friendly.
It’s a nice place and just 10 minutes away from the station – well worth a visit next time you’re in Glasgow. It’s a terrific addition to the beer scene in a city that isn’t as well served as Edinburgh when it comes to great bars serving great beer.
Address: 323 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3JA