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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Frustrations that come with being a beer "nerd" (connoisseur!) in Brisbane

<Warning> Before you continue further you should know this post could very well come across as nothing more than blatant whinging and is in fact my first non-food/non-beer bar related post and does have some seriousness to it. </Warning>

Skip the bottom for the positive part of this post!

With the disclaimer out of the way let me first say that I love Brisbane's blossoming craft beer scene and it's continuing growth is a brilliant thing.

That said, holy shit is it frustrating as hell to find certain beers when they are released in this City.

Both Sydney and Melbourne seem to be leagues ahead of us as far as that goes with places like Beer Cartel in Sydney letting wood be shoppers know of new acquisitions within a very short period of time of them getting in the door.

Whilst I've had some issues before getting certain beers this particular time is proving quite annoying.

I've been trying to track down some Six String Brewing Co. beers that were shipped mid last week and should have arrived sometime between Friday and Monday in Brisbane, but can I find them? Hell no.

I've tried a few different places to source these particular beers and in no way are they rare, it's just a great little microbrewery from NSW who happens to produce a fantastic Dark Red IPA that I want a 6 pack(or 3) of. I mean it's not Pilny The Elder I'm after here!

I didn't just pick these places at random either I looked at the list of Stockists on Six String's website and also asked when I was at my usual haunts but for the most part I got confused looks and one very strange phone call with a certain bottle shop that I won't name.

It seems that for someone that uses the internet a lot and social media, blogs and other craft beer related sites that you can legitimately know more than bottle shop staff do about new release beers or even knowledge of breweries themselves.

I don't expect someone who doesn't drink craft beer to know what I'm talking about if I ramble on about beer but I do expect a bottle shop that claims to sell craft beer to at least know what relevance beer has and how big of a growth industry it is because it isn't going away anytime soon.

It seems like there is a never dying stigma attached to beer even if some shops don't even have to sell XXXX or VB anymore, there is still this unspoken dirtiness that beer seems to have.

I don't think it needs to surpass wine but it can sit along side it, after all some beers are just as expensive if not more so and in some cases can take similar costs and effort to produce.

So what do I actually expect from staff at a "boutique" bottle shop that sells craft beer?

2 simple things.

Willingness to help. 
If I call and I ask a question or ask about the release of a beer I have every intention to buy it so if you can at least take the time to look it up on your computer then you may get a sale and a decent one as if I'm calling you I wan't more then 4 or 6 of the one beer.

Customer Service.
So this feeds into my first point but there is some craft beer shops in Brisbane that barely talk to you or even ask what you are after if you are looking at the  beer, like you aren't spending $300 on wine so you are not relevant. All I'd like is a simple hello, can I help? or even a smile in some cases.

So with the whinging out of the way no I haven't got any Six String beer yet but I suspect it will make it's way to Brisbane's usual spots soon and I'll get some then.

The Positive.

There is in fact some excellent bottle shops who do provide some really good customer service and tend to for the most part respect the fact that no matter how little or how much you are buying from them you are still making them money (or in-directly paying their wages).

The Wine Emporium
Whilst it has changed some what since it's beginnings at The Emporium (and my original local craft beer shop) in it's move to Gas Works, it is still a great place to find some rare and awesome beers as well as a majority of new releases. Charlie and the team at TWE have been nothing but helpful since I started visiting regularly for their ever expanding beer range, often letting me know of new acquisitions before they've filtered down to their News Letter.

Archive's Next Door Cellars
The Archive is more than an great place for a beer and a meal it also has an excellent little cellar in it's side room, complete with Growler fills of some rarer beers. I believe the reason that their staff are usually helpful is because most of them know a thing or two about beer and enjoy drinking it themselves and with their impending expansion into online beer sales this service should not go away any time soon. Unfortunately for me Archive's location in West End is a bit of an annoyance to get to from the North Side of Brisbane but on the occasion I get there it is always a good experience.

Queens Plaza Wine & Beer
Relative new kids on the block, QP Wine & Beer has been pretty useful for me working in the city. With a good range, discounts on 6 or more (random) beers and some fairly helpful and passionate staff. They are to date the fastest at replying to emails that I've come across and if you are asking for something they don't stock they will usually try to find it for you.

Purple Palette - Hawthorne
You could be mistaken for assuming that PP only sells wine if you just looked at their website but they have a great blossoming range of craft beer in a couple of decent locations. My favorite is Hawthorne, located just across the road from the Cinema and in an easy to get to and park at location. Staff have decent knowledge of beer and from the few times I've been there have been very friendly.

There is obviously more than 4 craft beer centered stores in Brisbane but these are the 3 I will continue to go back to, simply due to that little bit of extra effort that they put in.

There is some serious room for growth in the area of being able to find specific beers in Brisbane and hopefully that comes in time but for now I will continue the hunt.


[Edit] - Update 29th August
I have managed to get 6 Dark Red IPA from the Vine in Birkdale and the other 3 are available at the Archive but it seems that the Dark Red is super popular so could be awhile before we saw more stock in Brisbane. Thanks to Darren from 250 Beers for letting me know where he found it.

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