“First, it was wine bars in the U.S. about 15 years back,” I explained to my friend as we sat in our booth waiting for our food, sipping golden wheat and substantial lagers out of comically oversized glasses.
“And then it was high-end cocktail bars. And then, tequila bars, and cigar bars, saki bars, and now, it’s back to beer houses. They realize they can brew something on-site and charge like $5 (or $7-$8 in the U.S.) for a simple glass of beer.”
My friend nodded his head in agreement. Living most of his life in New York City, he understood the cycles that restaurants and bars go through, as they always try to catch – or set – the next trend.
“And you know what?” I added after a few sips. “I love it! Cheers!”
I’ve been to a lot of bars in Thailand in my younger days, and most of them are so similar that they’re actually annoying as hell at this point (I prefer nice coffee shops in my advanced years). So when I asked what we should do on a Saturday night in Pattaya, the burgeoning Las Vegas of Thailand only an hour and a half outside of Bangkok, he suggested we check out Hops Brewhouse, the new tourist hot spot.
My Visit to Hops Brewhouse
Staying in quiet suburban Jomtien, I don’t care to venture into crazy Pattaya any more than I have to, but it was a Saturday night, and we had to do something less we be accused of being ancient. So we headed towards the vibrant and bustling Beach Road in Pattaya and parked deep in the bowels of the nearby Garden Mall.
Walking up the Hops Brewhouse, I noticed immediately that it was super packed, with people waiting outside and also filling the entryway. The overwhelmed staff did a great job directing traffic and getting people signed up on the waiting list, and we did find a spot at the bar while waiting.
With time to kill, I tried their lager, which was great, and my friend took a shot on their Blonde, which he liked a lot but had too much of a “hoppy” aftertaste for my liking.
Soon, we got directed to our table, and we gladly shared a big corner booth with a group of awesome Japanese tourists. We were also sitting right by the glass-partitioned pizza making station, and saw the workers stretching dough and putting pizzas into the brick over nonstop. We tried a margarita pizza for an appetizer (we were starving) and it was damn good.
I backed that up with a Filet Mignon, and while it was a little undercooked (if you want medium-rare in Asia, you have to order medium), the taste was good – but nothing amazing compared to U.S. quality – but it only cost about $10 or so. We also split the crab dip which was bomb.
Soon, the place came to life as the band came back up on stage and played an awesomely eclectic assortment of U.S. songs from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The place is always busy so get there early, but it also encourages close-knit interaction, and everyone we met and talked to was friendly and in a festive mood. In all, it was a fantastic meal and fun evening out at Hops Brewhouse!