One of my favourite things about Perth is that for its size, it holds a vast quantity and varied range of small, independent businesses – and that’s including the fantastic one I write for! Craft Beer Bottle Shop is amongst one of the newer additions to Perth’s independent scene, and already its gaining a well deserved, devoted following.
Nestled in Murray Street by the IMAX, the colourfully painted exterior catches the eye. “Everything was designed with help from my dad and my pal”, Danny O’Connor, the owner tells me inside.
The interior is decorated with colourful stickers and labels on the walls, the beer related; others from other local businesses around Scotland, such as the recently opened Le Freak Records in Dundee. There is a real sense that the Craft Beer Shop is connected to a thriving community of smaller, independently run businesses across Scotland.
There is a real sense that the Craft Beer Shop is connected to a thriving community of smaller, independently run businesses across Scotland.
Danny offers me a cup of tea as I pull over a stool, and we get chatting. So where did his craft beer journey begin? He considers for a second:
“I think it was just because I didn’t like the taste of lager anymore. I was verging more on fruit ciders, then my brother-in-law introduced me to craft beer – Brewdog specifically – and, ever since, I’ve just had an urge to try different things all the time”. And as for what inspired him to start a business from this interest – was it a straightforward process?
“I drove a truck for fifteen years and I just wanted a change. Sitting behind the steering wheel for so long, I’d been thinking about it for a while, and then I started this process back in February. By the beginning of March, I’d done a course and ever since then it’s been on the up”.
Perth seemed like the natural place for Danny to start this business: “I’m born and bred in Perth. The selection of craft beer here was okay, but I was just seeing the same stuff all the time. Obviously we have XL Wines, and Provender Brown that stock gins and a couple of beers. The Green Room is the only place that serve craft beer, to my knowledge. But off-license wise there’s nothing focusing on craft beer. It was the lack of decent beer in Perth that made me think there was a market for what I wanted to do. So I thought I’d give it a go.”
The venture has been well received within the local community too, and people have been supportive. “We’ve got regulars coming in, and people walking past will pop into the shop for a nosy. Yeah, it’s good.” Danny smiles.
A big draw to the shop is its hand-picked collection of alcoholic beverages. Scanning the shelves, I spot interesting brands and delightful designs I had seen for the first time amongst old favourites – one tongue-in-cheek beer called The Great Cornholio with eccentric illustrations on its label stood out, while a Japanese gin handcrafted in Hokkaido – Etsu – caught my eye.
“I try to accommodate a wide range of tastes”, Danny tells me. “There are a couple of breweries that whenever they put out a beer, I think are amazing. I’ve got a couple of distributors, but there are a few breweries I go to direct to deal with them”.
“I like having a mixture of new beers in, but also old classics that people enjoy. Sometimes people will request certain beers, so I try to get those in too.” And it’s not only craft beer that is sold here.
“There has been such an explosion of gin, with all the new flavours coming out. I’ve had a few folk ask about whisky so I’m hoping to get some in, soon. I like whisky, but whisky doesn’t like me!”, he laughs.
Danny’s soft spoken but when speaking about craft beer, his eyes light up. Indeed, while we are chatting, a customer walks in having seen the shop for the first time, and asks Danny for a couple of recommendations. Immediately Danny bounces back with numerous flavours and brands he recommends, and asks questions about what kind of things he typically drinks. The two of them chat like old friends although having met for the first time, and the customer leaves having picked up a few of Danny’s recommendations, with a promise he will return.
I think that’s what sets the Craft Beer Bottle Shop apart. When I asked Danny about what he thinks makes his shop unique, he replied that “You can’t get these beers anywhere else in Perth”; while this is true, it’s a modest reply. Quite apart from its carefully curated, eclectic stock it’s the friendly vibe of this store that stands out. Browsing for a beer here you get to not only have a chat, but find something new each time.
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