Up until 2012, the Moorabbin area of southeast Melbourne was in need of a high-quality bottle store to service the beer lovers of the surrounding suburbs. Then Grape & Grain came along and those beer lovers rejoiced.
But, even then, those beer lovers still lacked anything in the way of a quality bar in which to enjoy great beer. So the founders of Grape & Grain decided to build a bar in their store and those beer lovers rejoiced even more.
At its core, the venue and bottleshop’s success has always been driven by the team’s a desire to bring "fun" as well as in-depth knowledge to a specialist store offering a great range of top notch beer, cider, wine and spirits. Initially, that team was led by John Tei and Mark Storrs but today, it’s Mark and Paul Wu bringing the joy of good beer and cheer to their pocket of Melbourne.
If there had been any fears among the owners at opening in a beer desert – in a little shopping strip close to the Nepean Highway and the local train station – they were soon allayed. We struggle to think of any craft beer business that has struck such a chord so quickly with its early audience, all of whom seemed to take to the airwaves (well, social media anyway) to proclaim its charms as if they were indeed water-starved nomads stumbling upon an oasis.
As they did so and word spread, the audience started travelling from far and wide, with many regulars from the Peninsula making it a frequent stop on their way back around the Bay from the city to stock up from a wide range of local crafties as well as expertly curated beers from around the world.
The store began hosting tastings and as the audiences for those continued to grow the team realised the store needed to become something more. When they approached the local council to inquire about opening an onsite bar in 2013, there was an expectation of being rebuffed but instead the response was one of it being "just what the area needed".
Today there are 16 taps, while the rear of the store is filled with upcycled furniture, beer memorabilia and classic games like chess and, alongside tap takeover and beer launches, the space regularly features live music and trivia nights.
Over the years, the online store has also grown to become a one-stop shop boasting an impressive collection of beer, wine and spirits. Just like the physical store and venue, you’ll find all manner of craft beer from across the world ready to be enjoyed, while particular attention is given to breweries in Grape & Grain’s backyard.
When they launched, there were precious few local breweries that called Melbourne’s southeast home. Today, the area is an epic epicentre of indie beer and at its heart, remains the good beer oasis that is Grape & Grain.