Copper & Oak Liquor Merchants have been serving the people of Perth with fine wine, craft beer and quality spirits for decades but in order to trace the store’s origins you have to go back some years earlier – and cross an ocean.
Jose Pestana’s whole working life has been dedicated to the retailing of liquor, after he started selling wine as a teenager in South Africa. It was there he fell in love with the wide world of fine wine and the experience of educating customers, whether that was describing what was in the bottle in their hand or recounting the stories that filled each shelf.
At the age of 20, he opened his first store and aimed to cut through with a point of difference from other local bottleshops: a focus on celebrating small winemakers. Soon, his passion for wine expanded into beer and spirits too; in the blink of an eye, Jose had four bottleshops of his own.
As anyone who’s ever spent time in his company will attest, he's as driven as he is passionate and, by the earlier 2000s, he was eager for change. He moved to Perth to join his family and, in 2003, took over a rundown bottleshop in a quiet strip of shops in Tuart Hill. The rest, as they say, is history.
Jose applied the same approach he’d developed in South Africa to offer an impressive breadth of choice to anyone walking through the doors – every sale accompanied by his ever-exuberant, welcoming personality. Soon he was joined by his brother Nelio and, over the years, the Pestana brothers built a reputation for both the quality of their wares and the service they offered.
Naturally, given their background, a wide selection of the wines found at Copper & Oak’s stores are sourced from across Western Australia; peruse the shelves and fridges and you’ll find them boasting an array from each of the state’s famed growing regions. That breadth of choice extends to spirits too: the retailer is home to one of Australia’s largest whisky offerings, hundreds of gins, and all manner of other drops. Unsurprisingly, given their homeland, there’s also an extensive collection of wine and spirits from South Africa to explore.
Given you’re reading about them on The Crafty Pint, there’s a good chance it’s the beer you want to know about and the Copper & Oak beer team have a reputation that runs as deep as their pride on this front too. In total, there’s around 1,500 unique beers spread across the two dozen fridge doors that wrap around the store.
The thoughtfully-curated beer selection is put together so everything sits in a well-considered place. It makes a visit to Copper & Oak to buy beer feel more like time spent in a family-run bookshop than a standard bottleshop.
And, much like a morning can be wiled away wandering between fiction, history and cookbooks, the shelves and fridges at Copper & Oak feel perfectly laid out for exploration. There’s sections dedicated to lambic beers, sours that span multiple fridges, hazies split between those you might pick up in a six-pack and those more suited to single can sharing. Alongside an expansive range of beers from Western Australia’s craft breweries, there’s also a wide selection from the rest of Australia as well as imported classics from around the world.
In other words, Copper & Oak – the name the brothers have used for their stores since 2015 – is created for anyone looking to discover something new or expand their beer-drinking horizons, whether they’ve been drinking craft beer since Little Creatures launched in the state or only visited their first brewery last week.
They’ve also become frequent collaborators with some of WA’s best breweries, an approach that allows the team to create beers they believe drinkers would embrace if they were more readily available, such as the West Coast XPA conceived with Otherside or their annual Eagle Bay collab, Oaked Vienna Lager.
Since 2022, the people of Perth and its outer east have had another option for browsing thanks to Copper & Oak Guildford (which you'll find in the free Crafty Pint app). Located at the gateway to the Swan Valley, it stocks an impressive collection of wines from that region alongside those from further afield, as well as a broad range of craft beers. And if you can’t make it into either of the stores, the Copper & Oak webstore – designed by Nelio whose background is in marketing and advertising – is kept fully stocked.
At two decades old and counting, Copper & Oak is an institution when it comes to craft beer, wine and spirits, but its evolution shows how independent and family-run businesses can continue to thrive.
Create a welcoming environment, maintain the passion and stick to your guns when it comes to connecting customers with something delicious they can drink. Do it right and not too much has to change – even in the fast-paced modern craft beer industry a far cry from Jose’s first store in South Africa.