Up until 2012, the Moorabbin area of south east Melbourne was in need of a high quality bottle store to service the beer lovers of the surrounding suburbs. Then Grape and 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 owners of Grape and Grain decided to build a bar in their store and those beer lovers rejoiced even more.
While doing so, they will have raised a glass or two of whatever (in all likelihood rare and delicious) beer was in their hands to John Tei and his fellow owners for having the foresight – over a few beers of course – 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. And for having the belief to bring it to an area that was previously starved of such a range.
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 John realised the store needed to become something more. He approached the local council to inquire about opening an onsite bar at the end of 2013 expecting to be rebuffed and, to his delight and surprise, was visited the next day and told it was "just what the area needed". A six tap system was installed, the rear of the store was filled with vintage furniture, beer memorabilia and classic games, such as chess and cribbage, and Grape and Grain joined the merry ranks of Melbourne's bottleshops-cum-bars.
Just like the bottle store, the bar side of the business got off to a flyer too and has never looked back. There's even been talk of a tiny brewery, although with 2 Brothers, Boatrocker and Riders Brew Co sharing a postcode, breweries aren't in short supply in Moorabbin. That said, thanks to Grape and Grain, neither is great beer either on tap or off the shelf.