Joe Wee is the owner of The Noble Hops. His friendly neighborhood bar boasts a fantastic taplist, with a friendly and exciting atmosphere accepting all levels of craft beer expertise. We sat down with a Batch Brewing Company Pash the Magic Dragon at the bar.
On getting in to the industry.
I got in to the beer game because I really love to homebrew. I have an engineering background, where I worked for seven or eight years. I got a bit tired of it and decided to give beer a go. So, I got a bunch of money, bought a bar, and turned it in to a craft beer bar.
This is the first business I’ve ever owned and the first job where I’ve worked for myself. It’s very challenging, but essentially, I bought myself a job! Engineering was getting a bit dry, a bit boring. I believe in the mantra that if you find something you really love, you’re not really ever working. It’s very true for me on a day to day basis, it’s very rewarding. I love it.
On being in Redfern.
I feel like the demographic here is right for what we do. People want things like that here. We’re trying to create a fun environment. We’re not trying to be a ‘serious beer’ venue. We want to be this neighbourhood place where everyone comes to have a chat. Everyone knows everyone here – from this place, not because they come together.
Every time you go to a pub and get a beer, what do you do? Go sit at a table, right? But here, it’s different, everyone wants to sit at the bar. We engage them, then they engage with other people, we make them talk to each other, then eventually they begin to know each other. We try and create an awesome environment and I think we do a good job at that! It’s something I noticed in the UK and one of the things I like about British pub culture.
On having a Police Station down the road.
It’s great! GABS day, we got broken in. We were operating and all these people came in from GABS. Some dude came in from the front and broke in to the kitchen and stole all our stuff – whiskies, fortified, everything. Unfortunately, he was too greedy and he came back for seconds. We were like, “hm, I wonder if he’s going to come back.” Then two hours later, he came back, we saw him and we busted him. Some of our customers had to help subdue the guy. Good thing is that the police station is down the road, so they came, literally, two minutes later. We didn’t get the stuff back, unfortunately, but he’s still getting charged by the police.
On his go to conversion beer.
I’d say pale, there’s a reason it’s the best-selling product in the beer world. Also sours. It’s something customers don’t expect from a beer, for someone who hasn’t tried a speciality beer before, and it reminds them of things they know, like wine or champagne, that they’re used to drinking. It’s also gentler on the palate compared to an IPA or something like that. Most of the new, kettle sours have fruits added to them. That’s more appealing.
On the best beer that’s ever been on tap.
Very cliché, but Ramjet. Everyone talks about Ramjet. We’ve had Ramjet side by side with some of the best breweries in the world, like Founders KBS and CBS and stuff like that, but it holds its own, in fact, it just has that much more flavour in it. It was difficult to get it, we had to contact the brewery directly and they had to ship a whole pallet of kegs to get it, then we had to ship those empty kegs back, too. But, it was so worth it!
On healthy enjoyment of beer.
We cycle a lot. We try to tie cycling and beer together – the culture is quite strong in Europe, say in Belgium and France, but also in the US in the Pacific Northwest, places like Portland. Everyone there rides a bike – competitively or not – and everyone drinks good beer. It’s not so much here in Sydney yet, but we hope to change that. We need more things like it, like the Mikkeller Running Club. It’s not so much about focusing on the drinking aspect, it’s more the social aspect. That’s what I’m trying to create here.