Last week we wrote about the crew behind Hobart craft beer haunt The Winston opening a bottleshop just as many places began to close.
They’re not the only ones to find themselves in this situation either, with District Bottle Store in Pascoe Vale adding to the craft beer offerings in Melbourne’s northern suburbs just as the impact of the pandemic started to take hold.
Like The Winston, there are some familiar faces behind District Bottle Store too, with Venom Brewing’s Joel and Janna Drysdale and Daniel and Jane Caneva from Coburg Brewing and the Post Office Hotel steering the ship. Together, the group also run Bandwagon Beverages and opened the bottleshop just before Easter – a time that normally sees people flee Melbourne for beaches and bush but instead had locals in Pascoe Vale embracing their new bottlo.
“It’s been a really damn good start,” Joel says of an opening weekend that surpassed expectations. “We’re feeling the love.
“We hoped and we dreamed and thought that we had that audience, and they’re there and ready for craft.”
While they were tempted to delay the opening until a time when the world looks a little more normal, ultimately, they decided to stick to their original timescales.
“Basically, we’d spent all the money and then the virus hit,” Joel says. “We really considered pulling the pin and holding off three or four months.”
As for the wider effects of coronavirus, Joel says it makes selling beer tough for everyone. As someone running a brewing company, distribution company and bottleshop – and whose parents run the Country Club Hotel in Yea – he's well placed to assess the impact across the board.
“It is frustrating because, with Venom, growth was going really well and it took five years to get to that point. But we don’t have a huge amount of money and capital tied up so we can slow down a little bit.”
As for the impact on the wider industry, he says: “There’s a lot of people out there who have really good staff that have been working their guts out for the brewery and who are getting laid off or put back to one day a week and losing some of their enthusiasm for the whole industry.
“But it’s tough for both sides: it’s tough for people getting laid off and for the owners who have to go and put people off.”
District Bottle Store is open seven days, with plans to launch an online store in the near future. You can keep up to date with what's in stock via their Facebook page.
As part of the #keepinglocalalive campaign we're running Postcards from the Edge stories, highlighting the ways in which people are adapting to survive. If you've got a story you think is suitable – or have something to add to the campaign resources online – get in touch.