A wish to make an easy-drinking beer, that would bridge the gap between mainstream lagers and craft ale, led bar owner Ben Hopkinson to come up with his own tipple. After perfecting his recipe using a home brewing kit, he set about branding his new beer and enlisted the help of younger brother Ludi.
After coming up with some “horrible names” they eventually drew on their surname, and Hop King was born. With the beer came merchandise, inspired by the pair’s love of skateboarding, such as T-shirts, caps, skateboard decks – and beyond.
Ludi said: “We wanted to be authentic. Certain brands just align themselves with a certain type of music or cultures, we didn’t want that for our brand so we said let’s create our own pro skate team. “We’ve now got a couple of hopefuls for the Olympics in 2020.”
As Hop King grew the brothers soon found working out of bedrooms and sitting rooms wasn’t sustainable. They launched a Crowdfunding campaign for £150,000 for new headquarters raising £167,000, which kickstarted their search.
A few months later they found two arches a stone’s throw from London Bridge and in October they opened Hop Kingdom – an indoor skatepark and taproom with the office and storage space they needed.
Ben said: “We thought why not get an office and distribution centre but also put a skatepark in it and a little taproom, it was as simple as that.
“We spent a long time trying to find the right premises and this place couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s next to White Grounds skatepark, on the Bermondsey Beer Mile and five minutes from London Bridge – it ticked all the boxes.”
Hop Kingdom is now one of only a handful of indoor skateparks in London, making it an immediate hit as “you can’t skateboard when it’s wet”.
Ben and Ludi were also keen to make Hop Kingdom accessible to all so have kept the skatepark free. Keen to support the community they offer group skateboarding lessons for children and one-to-one adult sessions.