The Cardiff store which stocks 500 types of beer and is run by a former record label owner
Drinking a few beers while listening to your record collection is the idea many have of a dream night out.
For Trev McCabe, he has made this passion a profession as he is the owner of Pop ‘n’ Hops, a record and craft beer store on Whitchurch Road in Cardiff, which offers 500 colossal varieties of beer.
If you love hoppy lagers, sour beers that make your mouth water, or boozy imperial stouts, then Pop ‘n’ Hops has one of South Wales’ biggest selections.
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Trev, originally from Neath, opened the store in 2017, after moving with his partner from London where he ran a small independent label called Oddbox, which released around 40 albums and 100 singles.
Speaking about the music he released, Trev said: “It was mostly what I would consider indie – but not in the Coldplay sense, more John Peel-era inspired as loud guitars and unusual slightly alternative stuff. It was definitely mostly loud guitars! “
“They were small groups going up or small groups going down. We released a few bands which were then covered by BBC Radio 6 Music through other labels. And we also released a new EP from an indie band that once graced Top of the Pops in the late 80’s called the Darling Buds from Newport.
Trev had always wanted to open a record store so he set out to make that dream come true when he arrived in Cardiff.
“I always had the ambition to open a record store back then, I just didn’t have the opportunity,” Trev said.
But, Trev didn’t think a record store could do it on its own.
“The piece of beer came only because I thought a record store alone wouldn’t work, so I thought, what else do I like? And it was just “oh yeah, beer!” ”Said Trev.
“I looked at what Cardiff had back then and used to go to the London stores which had five huge fridges and a tap room. When I arrived in Cardiff, although there were some good bottle shops here, I didn’t see anything with that kind of vibe.
While the parallels between craft beer and the record collection aren’t immediately obvious, Trev can see a clear overlap.
“What I discovered with craft beer is that there is a big hunt for new brewing or exciting beer and that has huge parallels to indie music – who is the exciting young band? Who is the exciting young brewery? Trev said.
“I think a lot of people my age who were looking for the latest indie band are now chasing the latest craft beer.”
Pop ‘n’ Hops initially opened on a temporary lease in 2017, but due to the success of the business they moved to a larger location next door last year. Trev continued to diversify by introducing drinking events, meet brewers, pop-up coffee, and cold storage.
More impressive still, it has grown its range of beers from 100 types to around 500.
“I was aiming for 300 beers when I started and we got there and that has been pretty consistent for centuries. And then the lockdown happened and it got really hard to buy beer so I had to buy pallets worth of beer and that just meant I was buying 30 different beers instead of 10 every week , then in three months I had 500 beers, ”Trev said.
“I think 500 also gives me plenty of opportunity to stock a wide variety of styles – blades and IPAs will always be the big sellers, but I still want to make sure you can come and get a sour beer, a dark one, a red ale or something that isn’t considered so trendy or so handcrafted, but they’re still very well-made beers.
As part of its range, Trev typically stocks 10 to 15 different Welsh breweries; a reflection of the makeup of the Welsh brewing scene.
“The Welsh brewing scene is very different from what I’m used to coming from London. I think London was all hip, there was Beavertown, The Kernel and a whole slew of other breweries that have popped up since then that make what I consider modern craft beer, ”Trev said.
“Wales has a more traditional element to its brewing which I think is totally correct as I come from a history of consuming real ale. It’s just not something I have to sell in the store, as you can get a lot of it at local supermarkets or delis.
Polly’s, Flintshire and Wild Horse, Conwy – “From North Wales these are the two breweries that I would recommend the most. They both make modern, hazy, predominantly hoppy IPAs and lagers. They are two of the best-selling Welsh breweries in the shop. “
Cunning devil, Cardiff – “This local brewery deserves more love outside of Cardiff.”
Dog’s Window, Bridgend – “From South Bridgend, they’re very small and very cohesive, but they have a wider range of styles to choose from. They make stouts, carriers, Belgians and also more hoppy IPAs.
Beer Riff, Swansea – “They do good things and have their own plumbing room in Swansea.”
Tenby Brewery, Pembrokeshire – “They’re making some nice foggy beer right now.”
Desert, Powys – “In central Wales, Wilderness does a really interesting mixed fermentation brew where they blend and age the beers in wine or whiskey casks.”
Early next year, Trev hopes to install draft beer taps in the store. This is part of Pop ‘n’ Hops’ continued move away from its original goal of selling records.
“Records have definitely taken a back seat. They have always been the smallest partner in the business – the beer was the bread and butter and the records were nice to have. Thanks to Covid, when we weren’t really open to browsing it was really hard to list used records online and sell them reliably, ”said Trev.
“The plans for the future are to have fewer records but to focus on new releases and make an organized vinyl selection. Even if we move away from selling vinyl, there will be turntables in the store, so vinyl lovers are welcome to bring their records and play them while they have a beer. I always want the Pop side of our name to stay relevant.
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