While Melbourne’s inner east has long been home to some of Australia’s leading craft bottleshops, the area beyond Burwood and Box Hill has spent a long time bereft of stores offering good beer. Despite being an area awash with young families (often those who had moved back to the ‘burbs after years enjoying the broad selection many inner-city bars and bottleshops are known for) the city’s eastern fringes always struggled when it came to satisfying beer lovers.
But things took a turn for the better in 2016 when A Point of Difference Liquor opened up in Mitcham, creating the oasis that one of Melbourne’s few remaining craft beer deserts so badly needed. Owned and operated by Roger Sauer, the idea behind this little store is simply a desire to offer those in the area something a little, you guessed it, different.
With more than 40 years of experience running pubs, bars and bottleshops Roger, is no stranger to selling beer. But, after years working for big companies selling big beer, he felt that it was time for things to change: A Point of Difference would be unlike many of the previous businesses he had run and would give him the opportunity to work with smaller producers, those that he could rely on and build relationships with.
Roger was further encouraged by his time running a bottleshop in Ferntree Gully where the local tradies were coming in at the end of the week seeking new and interesting beers they could take home for the weekend. The signs were clear: the east was home to plenty of craft beer fans yet all they were missing was a bottleshop to call their own.
With that, A Point of Difference was born, a small store within walking distance of Mitcham’s train station. Despite its small size, the place does manage to cram in more than 800 unique beers, a collection on a par some of the best specialist bottlos around. But, of course, size isn’t everything. Of greater importance is a dedication to continually refreshing and rotating the range so customers are always able to find something new, whether they return every month or a few times a week.
This desire to keep the beer moving means that no special attention or extra space is afforded to the more established brands; the larger Aussie micros are allocated just as much space as their smaller brethren.
It’s the same approach when it comes to cider, wines and spirits. There’s an emphasis on small producers, whether they are Australian or international, and a focus on those brands that can’t be found in major liquor retailers. This not only provides customers with a genuine choice of products but also means there’s no need to enter into price wars with competitors.
Roger’s exciting range gets people in the door and, once they are inside, it’s easy to lose track of time browsing. If anyone wants something a little more specialised, maybe an obscure spirit or a limited release from a brewery, then A Point of Difference is there to oblige. As long as people want it (and it can be found), they’ll stock it.
When it comes to beer, everyone has their little idiosyncrasies: what styles we prefer over others, which hops our palates believe mix together to make the perfect IPA, what breweries are the most exciting both at home and abroad. Thanks to Roger, those who live in the outer east can now satisfy their own particular desires, whatever their point of difference.