When a couple of mates opened Bottle House back in 2011, their focus was firmly fixed on providing those who walked inside with ample opportunity to find the perfect bottle of wine for any occasion. A stone’s throw from South Yarra train station, Bottle House soon became one of those essential stops for anyone seeking the right bottle, whether they were on the way home or heading out for the night.
But it wasn’t just the wine bringing people in, often it was the wide range of beer and spirits too; in the case of beer, they filled each of their six dedicated fridges with as many bottles and cans as they could possibly manage.
Finding the room to give beer and spirits the same Bottle House level of attention – and the necessary shelf space – they applied to wine was a challenge. It was one that, after a few years, was solved with the opening of a second store. Towards the end of 2016, Bottle House Balaclava was born in an old video shop (may they all rest in peace), and was comfortably large enough to become a beer lover’s delight.
What Balaclava offered was enough space to showcase somewhere in the vicinity of 800 beers, most of which – excluding barrel aged and darker beers – are kept in one of a dozen fridges.
Paul Ryan, who was brought on to run the beer selection across the two stores, has been tasked with ensuring whatever is new and exciting can always be found at the Carlisle Street shop. Paul came from working at a small craft beer store in London called The Beer Boutique and, upon returning to Melbourne, set about navigating through the ever-growing scene to bring the customers the very best, freshest and most talked about brews.
“Bottle House Welcomes You To Craft Beer Heaven” is emblazoned above its fridges and, whether you’re still being proselytised or are a card-carrying craft beer convert, those words certainly ring true.
While the lineup favours Australian breweries, plenty of international beers also make it into the store, so expect some of the latest local releases as well as rarities from Europe or America to greet you as you walk through the door. It’s the kind of bottleshop you want to give yourself plenty of time to explore, the sort where you might quite easily find yourself leaving laden with rather more beer than you’d originally intended.
True to its Bottle House name, the Balaclava store also has a well-considered approach to wine, while the bottles of spirits that sit behind the counter contain pretty much anything distilled you could wish to get your hands on, whether that’s a gin made in Melbourne or a whisky shipped from the Scottish Highlands. What's more, it's a dog-friendly store too.
Indeed, across the two stores, Bottle House lives up to its moniker and is a home to good booze, whatever shape it might take.