10 of Australia's best beer bottle shops
Drinks Trade recently asked retailers across Australia to vote for their peers that are dedicated to stocking a wide range of local and international beers in their bottle shops. Editor Hannah Sparks reveals 10 of the country’s best beer bottle shops.
OLDFIELD CELLARS: GOSFORD, NSW
It might come as a surprise to some that one of Australia’s best bottle shops for beer lies in the sleepy seaside town of Gosford, NSW. Garth Oldfield, owner and operator of Oldfield Cellars, had been in the liquor game in Sydney for nearly 20 years before opening his Central Coast store and his expertise has seen this small town venture thrive.
With a range of around 300 beers, both Australian and international, and a selection of locally produced snacks, customers can find a food and drink pairing whatever their palate; this includes sweet, sour, smoked and rare brews.
To help set up his bottle shop, Garth hired local staff with extensive beer knowledge, making this business 100% Central Coast owned and operated.This dedicated team has written printable tasting notes for every one of the stocked beers so customers feel encouraged to try something new. It’s obvious why the bottle shop won the NSW Liquor Stores Award for Excellence in Innovation in 2016.
DUTCH TRADING CO: PERTH, WA
Located in the beer bar of the same name, this bottle shop houses over 300 bottled beers including a number of rare brews from the US and Europe. This list is constantly changing to showcase a range of beer styles, brewers, traditions, regions and flavour profiles. There is also a CANary machine that allows for beer from the 18 rotating taps to be canned and taken home for enjoyment. Finally, the highly knowledgeable staff are the cherry on top of this great beer bottle shop.
BEER CARTEL: SYDNEY, NSW
Ask any beer-centric Sydneysider where they get their beer from and the chances are that you’ll hear the name Beer Cartel thrown into the mix. What began as an online beer club, run by business partners Geoff Huens and Rich Kelsey, has blossomed into one of the biggest beer retailers in the country. As Australia’s craft beer scene has taken off, they’ve added a Sydney store stocking over 1000 beers to their original online service. The shelves are filled with beers from across the globe, with a sizeable range from the brewing nations of Australia, New Zealand, the US, Belgium, Germany, the UK and Scandinavia. The largest quantity is of Australian beers, including the entire ranges of Pirate Life, Stone & Wood, Two Birds and James Squire. The team also stocks a constantly changing list of limited and seasonal releases. For those living outside of the Eastern capital, all beers available in-store can also be purchased online and delivered anywhere in the country.
EMPRESS CRAFT BEER: DEVONPORT, TAS
Empress was opened in March last year by the team behind Launceston’s craft beer Mecca, Saint John Craft Beer. The well-stocked fridges house over 200 different beers from the island, mainland and internationally. The team also makes their own mixed six-pack weekly to encourage their customers to try something new.
CELLARBRATIONS CARLISLE: PERTH, WA
Stocked full of almost every worthwhile beer you can get your hands on in Australia, Cellarbrations Carlisle is a celebrated addition to the local beer scene. Rare and craft beers are housed within walls covered with colourful artwork by local artists. Step through to the back room and you’ll find the Grain Cru, a beer club that hosts regular educational evenings focusing on new trends in beer around the world. Family-run for more than 30 years, the store is dedicated to hosting regular beer, cider, wine and spirits tastings on Fridays and Saturdays. The store is also home to eight rotating draught beer taps, which can also be bottled and taken home.
STURT STREET CELLARS: ADELAIDE, SA
Housed inside the King Street Hotel, Adelaide this is the only bottle shop in Australia stocked with 100% South Australian brands. The majority of brands are family-owned and strongly independent, with the store showcasing producers intent on pushing the limits in their fields. Guests can either take their beers home or drink in store in either the al fresco or deck areas for an added $15 corkage fee. Four regularly rotating taps pour a range of limited release brews and keg-only offerings from smaller breweries, which can be bottled via the store’s impressive crowler machine. The machine seals the brews in 948ml cans that can be stored for up to two weeks.
There are also weekly tasting events and masterclasses held in the old keg room beneath the hotel. Rotating art installations adorn the walls and owner Gareth Evans is known to often work with local wine and beer producers to host launches at the venue.
MCCOPPINS: MELBOURNE, VIC
McCoppins bottle shops are an institution in Melbourne. With stores in Fitzroy and Abbotsford, as well as two delis, it is the responsibility of each retailer’s team to do the ordering, meaning each location has a unique selection. The 500-strong range of beers includes a number of genuine imports, rather than beers brewed in Australia under license, and local breweries. As the bigger location, the Fitzroy store hosts free weekly tastings alternating between beer and wine. The stores are splashed with artwork that reflects the beers housed within, such as a massive Mountain Goat mural.
SLOWBEER: MELBOURNE, VIC
Slowbeer deserves a mention not least of all because it was the first 100% dedicated craft beer store. The 1000 bottled beers on offer are predominantly small-scale breweries and rare imports from cult breweries across the globe. Takeaway growler fills from the four taps at Richmond or five at Fitzroy can be purchased alongside a selection of artisanal cheeses, cured meats and preserves from local and international producers. The idea for Slowbeer came from the European slow food movement that places emphasis on regional character, quality ingredients and the experience of dining or drinking.
CELLARBRATIONS HAWTHORNE CELLARS: BRISBANE, QLD
Hawthorne Cellars started as one of three linked Brisbane bottle shops before coming under the Cellarbrations umbrella. Each of these bottle shops were established with a strong beer offering and Cellarbrations Hawthorne Cellars has chosen to continue this legacy. Here, classic Aussie commercial brews sit side-by-side with rare, experimental brews living up to the store’s promise of offering something for everyone. To help the less knowledgeable consumer, the staff post brief but ingenious descriptions of common beer styles above the fridges. Guided tastings are also often held with the discerning staff to open consumers’ minds and palates to the wide world of craft beer.
PLONK: FYSHWICK, ACT
This independent, family-owned bottle shop stocks an impressive 1300 beers from Australian craft breweries and over 60 countries worldwide. What started as an alleyway shop has expanded into a large Fyshwick store and a second location in Belconnen, both carrying a range of glassware, books, accessories and local produce on top of the abundant beer offering.
To read an interview with Sturt Street Cellars founder Gareth Evans, click here
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