Driving along Sydney’s Pacific Highway through Crows Nest, you could be forgiven for not noticing Cutty Cellars. Heck, even walking along the street it’s just not the kind of store to jump out at you saying: “Great beer in here!” However, that’s exactly what’s there, and plenty of it too.
With the store’s previous incarnations having evidently failed to make a mark – it operated as a liquor store under something like half a dozen different business names in almost as many years – it was pretty clear that a point of difference was needed. That’s what it got when the team who successfully reconstructed Ashfield Mall Cellars around craft beer got hold of the store and started giving Cutty Cellars the same treatment.
What you get now is a beer selection more than 700 strong, built on a base of Australia’s freshest and finest. From ultra-local Northern Beaches brewers 4 Pines and Nomad to the best of Sydney’s Inner West, then interstate to the elegant bottles of La Sirene to Pirate Life’s imposing half-litre hop bombs, they run the full gamut.
The international selection casts its net out over the Pacific to beers from New Zealand, Japan and the USA while Europe’s traditional brewing countries like Germany, England, Scotland and, especially, Belgium – by way of a ‘Belgian Bookshelf’ – have good representation. If your mood sits anywhere between adventurous to indecisive, a good way to satisfy yourself is by choosing a mixed six pack for which you'll get a tidy discount. And if you join their Crafty Club, you’ll get more substantial discounts on member days.
One of the reasons Cutty Cellars is able to stock such a comprehensive range is that it’s got the luxury of being big. Unlike many independent craft beer stores which have shelves creaking, groaning and bursting from having to pack a lot into a small space, there’s plenty of room here to wander and ponder. When the store was renovated again in 2016, they took the chance to install a four tap growler system, expanded the refrigerated range considerably and showed how serious they are about beer by relocating the glass case that had previously held top end wine and filled it with special bottles of beer from around the world.
At street level it may appear to be hidden behind some pretty generic alcohol signage, but Cutty Cellars is another genuine gem in the blossoming North Shore craft beer scene.