Following in the footsteps of their Brunswick Street location, Wine Republic owners Fiona Lim and Tom O’Mara have nudged a little further into Melbourne's north and opened a second store on High Street in Northcote. And this time they've done so with a distinctly more hop-focused array of wares.
While the touches of artwork from Northcote locals that decorate this Wine Republic inside and out – not to mention the exposed brick and rows upon rows of quality wines – echo the feel of their first store in Fitzroy, this is truly one for the beer drinkers. As well as a cool room (itself home to colourful artwork) stacked with slabs of Australian and international beer, one side of the front half of the store is dominated by a series of impressive beer fridges featuring no less than 800 different brews from Victoria and beyond, from stone cold classics to cutting edge new releases.
What's more, the first bank of fridge doors – plus the neighbouring shelves – is one that's likely to stop anyone with even a passing interest in great beer in their tracks. Not only is every shelf lined with beers from the best international and local brewers but the beers chosen from those breweries are frequently the finest and rarest you'll lay your eyes on; clearly someone who really digs beer is curating the lineup here.
Presented inside such a beautifully designed store, the collection – drawn from the likes of Garage Project, Mikkeller, Stone, Panhead and Jester King as well as cutting edge locals – is also a reminder that, as the beer world evolves, there's as much artistry in the way beers are being presented as there is in the brewing process.
The fridge and cool room combination is an important consideration for the owners, who have spent years developing their own wine and beer collections and thus know the importance of keeping beers fresh. There are no bottles gathering dust in the back room here – with the worthy exception of the requisite beers selected for cellaring it’s all on display and cold enough to crack open at will.
Friday nights are as good a time as any to drop in as that's when they host tastings from 5pm to 8pm, featuring Victorian craft brewers, wine tastings or spirit sampling. Speaking of wine and spirits, they take a similar approach here, favouring small, independent, interesting crafty producers and quirky varieties. Add in home delivery to much of Melbourne – promised within two hours – and it's one heck of an appealing package for the discerning drinker.
Once you settle on your beverage of choice and tear yourself away from the fridges, you'll find a selection of chocolates available at the counter from leading Melbourne chocolatiers Koko Black too, offering the perfect accompaniment to your evening’s indulgences.