Beermoth, Manchester

Beermoth opened in February 2013 to fill a gap in the market for a specialist craft beer shop to sit alongside the growing numbers of beer-focused on-trade outlets. In December 2015 the team opened the on-trade Café Beermoth, five minutes from the store. Co-founder Scott Davis talks to DRN:

Why did you decide the time was right to start the business?

We set up Beermoth because there were a few modern beer bars in Manchester but no shop that represented that scene.Our original idea was based on a few of our European trips, such as one to Amsterdam where we saw good beer shops and there was nothing like that in our area. It was something we wanted in our city so our reasons for starting out were a bit selfish really.

What is the area like and what competition do you face?

We are in the Northern Quarter of Manchester, which is traditionally an area with a fair number of independent shops.Beer shops in England are generally a bit out of town so people tend to drive to them, but we wanted to be in town and in this area, and we wanted people to be able to try our beers and then buy some and not have to drive.The location has worked well for us. There are some good food retailers here and a lot of us started at a similar timeWe are up against breweries selling direct but that is not really competition as we have a consolidated range whereas they are selling from just one producer.

What kinds of customers does the shop attract?

We definitely have a mixture of customers. We see beer geeks and beer tourists but also the local beer scene is really healthy.There are people who don’t know much about beer who come to us. People are getting converted all the timeWe want the shop to be for people to learn a bit about the process and to then be able to explore the range.

How do you keep customers coming back?

We do some tastings and events, so for example we recently had a beer historian in. Our bar is five minutes away and it has 17 draught lines. The hoppy stuff is on draught and we have bottles that are suitable for ageing.In the shop we have a mixture of everything, and up to about 1,000 different lines. We can talk people through things and there is plenty for them to explore, with new stuff all of the time.

We have a tasting room downstairs and we have recently added a table down there so that people can drink in.The shop also offers tutored tastings if people are interested, for groups of between nine and 24 people.

What has been selling well recently?

Sours are popular. We are also selling a lot of north east IPAs – the hazy east coast style – and some pastry stouts. We are selling a lot of those. One recent release, La Catrina, is like a Mexican cake – flavours of cinnamon, ginger, chillies and vanilla from Wander Beyond Brewing. It’s 11% abv. We also have a good selection of local beers. Our aim from the start was that we only sell good beer, and so there are some local breweries that aren’t represented in our store.

It’s always a balance of what we like and what the customer wants. We have a mixture of bottles and cans but we definitely now have a lot more cans than we did before.

What are your plans for the future?

We would like to install a tap and growler option downstairs where we have a tasting table to encourage people to drink in at the shop or take away draught beer.

We have been approached by a Belgian brewer about being one of its flagship stores, and it’s something we will think about. We do have a solid range of Belgian beers and it is something we do well.

Everything else is pretty much small batch. Cloudwater, for example, probably has new beers every single week. We do get some of the rarer stuff sometimes and this is something that helps keep us on the radar of some beer fans.

We are not so keen on opening in new locations. We just want to keep doing a good job at what we have got here.

One area for the future is online. When we started out we wanted to feel more like a record shop than Amazon, but now people are past that and more comfortable with online shopping and we know there is definitely a role for this in our sector.

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