Sean Dissington || July 21st
Independent businesses are funny things, you're essentially buying the owners and the staff rather than the product. After all, there are supermarkets and online stores that sell a wide selection of craft ales and beers and many at very low prices – so why would you go to a bottle shop in Hanley when Tesco can step on the balls of suppliers so well?
It's not to collect miniature Tom, Amo and Chris characters with every purchase (although that idea is as marvellous as it is dreadful, over to you internet), and it's not just because there's more to value than price, it's because of the love of it. You do it because there are people who love what you love, and they show their love of it every day. BottleCraft on Marsh street was where I discovered many delicious new drinks, a love of sours, and people i'd never have met otherwise and for that I'm eternally grateful.
But this is supposed to be review of BottleCraft 2.0 so I'll crack on. It's now on 33 Piccadilly, has a large upstairs seating area and a wider tap range. It's bigger, has a (purposefully) limited spirits menu and a small but well chosen selection of wines. No longer will wine drinkers have to endure the glass sized bottles that used to reign, you can now get a perfectly drinkable Sauvignon or Shiraz if you're that way inclined. You can even get (their words) shit tea and coffee too!
On the subject of prices, they are still tremendously low, £20 will take you on a wonderful tour of tastes and styles and leave you cursing the last one that you had. It amazes me that the drinks don't cost more, but BottleCraft's crowd drink to explore and Chris and Amo feel a duty to offer their customers the best prices they can, and who am I to argue with that?
So the shop is new, its existence is the very proof of their success and that the idea they had of great drinks and a friendly atmosphere has hit home with drinkers in Hanley. Hopefully the new shop will expose more drinkers to the joys of small batch limited run drinks. One thing that I can guarantee wont change is that new things will be tried, friendships forged and that 11% DIPA lamented the next day. BottleCraft is starting to etch itself into the make-up of Hanley, and that's a great thing.
I spoke to BottleCraft Chris today (all of the team have now had their names prefixed by BottleCraft by deed poll) and he told me that he, Tom and Amo had sworn that the first man to mention BottleCraft 3.0 would receive many a punch. I give it a year.