A BEER-lovers favourite is moving into bigger premises.

Old Town bar The Hop will reopen in the former Pig on the Hill premises, on Devizes Road, on Thursday.

Jason Putt, who opened The Hop with wife Karen over six-years-ago, said the larger bar would be almost exactly the same as the existing pub – just bigger. Son Ben Putt, 35, who started in the pub trade as a 22-year-old university graduate, will manage the new bar: “All of the things we couldn’t tick off in here, like an excess of space, a garden, function room, are things we’re going to be able to provide at the new place.

“We have an ongoing thing that’s happened ever since we opened, on a Friday or Saturday night due to how busy we are, you’ll see a plethora of people walk past this door, look in, realise it’s absolutely packed and walk on by.

“I’m sure those people would come in if we weren’t so packed.”

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While The Hop currently can hold around 70 people, the bar area alone in the new premises should be able to cater for twice that. Ian Timbers, who makes very well-regarded fresh pizza in a room at the back of the bar, will be moving down the road to the new pub.

It will open for a private launch for regulars tomorrow night, before opening to the public from midday on Thursday, March 28. The current premises, sandwiched between the Arts Centre and Betfred, will be closed for up to two months for refurbishment. Landlord Jason said it would reopen as “something similar but noticeably different, so as not to be a mini-duplicate”.

For 64-year-old Jason, expanding The Hop is just the latest chapter in a story that has lasted years. "I spent most of my working life doing a succession of sales jobs that I really didn’t like very much,” he said. “On the back of losing my job to redundancy I applied for a job I thought I was going to get and didn’t. After that, I thought to myself ‘Do I really want to do that?’

“I’d always had a hankering to do something like this, to open up a pub or bar. I had an image, a bit like George Orwell’s Moon Under Water, of the perfect pub. I had this idea in my head – despite a lot of people telling me if I didn’t sell Carling it would be a failure. Much to the credit of my wife she bought into it. We went for it.”

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They opened six-and-a-half years ago in a tiny building previously occupied by a sex shop. The décor, all designed by Jason, was industrial and worn. And the bar prided itself upon selling decent beer.

Over the years the pub has stocked at least 2,500 different beers on the taps from hundreds of breweries.

“I haven’t got rich, but I’ve enjoyed my working life far more in the last six years than I have in the previous 20,” said Jason.

Booze renaissance on Devizes Road

The Hop's reopening in the Pig on the Hill is the latest example of a boozy renaissance for Old Town's Devizes Road.

In recent years, the area has been growing in popularity among drinkers with a taste for the alternative.

The Tuppenny and The Hop pubs have opened in the last half-dozen years, serving beers from independent, micro-breweries. Last year, they were joined by Hop Kettle Brewery bar the Eternal Optimist above tapas bar Los Gatos. At the Newport Street end of the road is gin and cocktail favourite the Royal Oak.

The Hop manager Ben Putt, 35, said: "It’s a more bohemian vibe. It’s not the package lagers you get in every pub. We’re all a bit different now. The area’s become becoming a destination."

Jason Putt added: "Old Town is the destination to go to for anyone who’s discerning about beer."

The Hop re-opens on Thursday at 8 Devizes Road.