Home' National Liquor News : NLN MAR 2018 Contents 26 | MARCH 2018 NATIONAL LIQUOR NEWS
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE BEER INDUSTRY?
I’m from Perth originally and while I was studying criminology I decided
it would be a good part time job to work in a wine store. It was part of
a chain so the transfer to Sydney was easy, and it wasn’t until I was with
the independents that I got interested in the craft beer scene. When I
started at The Oak Barrel, Ian (Chainey) said he needed someone to look
after craft and it’s been so much fun. I really didn’t realise how much I
would enjoy it, because I have a passion for gin and wine obviously but
had never really thought about beer until I came here. With the scope of
the range it’s a bit hard not to be at least a little bit interested in what’s
going on. And Sydney’s got an excellent beer scene around the Inner
West, and it’s so much fun.
SO HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT GOING BACK
DOWN THE CRIMINOLOGY PATH?
All the time, especially when my mum brings up my HECS debt. When
I was with the chains it was a job, it wasn’t a passion so I’d always
tossed up what I wanted to do. The reason I came to Sydney was to do
my grad diploma and I was offered an internship in mental health with
ex-offenders and drug and alcohol addiction, and I thought that was
the route I’d like to go. But then I started with the independents, I was
Assistant Manager with another independent and then I came to The Oak
Barrel and decided that I probably could make this my full time job.
DO YOU HAVE ADVICE YOU COULD OFFER TO THE
INDEPENDENTS WITH REGARDS TO CRAFT BEER?
I think being an independent you want to support the independents and
when people see that they really appreciate it. Being a little guy it’s always
hard to compete against the big guys, so it’s nice to support them.
HOW MANY BEERS DO YOU STOCK AND HOW
FREQUENTLY DO YOU CHANGE THEM UP?
We have on average 745 beers on the shelves here and I change them
fairly often. I feel like in the last six months there’s been a lot of
changeover because there’s been a lot more pop up, so usually, especially
with the seasonal stuff or special releases, I will buy a case or two and
then once it’s out, it’s out, but I’ll keep a few main stayers. Also with
the change in the beer industry a lot of guys are doing these pilot brew
systems and doing smaller batches, so they’re producing a lot and
turnover is really high, the Australian stuff is ridiculous. I overhaul our
shelves every two weeks to fit more stuff in.
HAVE YOU IMPLEMENTED ANY CHANGES SINCE
YOU’VE BEEN HERE?
I’ve started doing craft beer appreciation classes and I’ve also started
doing brewer nights, so evenings where we’ll introduce the brewer. It’s
WE CHAT WITH CLAIRE JANSEN, THE CRAFT BEER
BUYER AT THE OAK BARREL IN SYDNEY. THE OAK
BARREL HAS BEEN NAMED LIQUOR STORE OF THE
YEAR FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS AT THE AUSTRALIAN
LIQUOR INDUSTRY AWARDS (ALIA).
been a slow start because people are a bit unsure about what’s involved
and don’t know how to price it and whose interest I’m going to pique,
but it’s been good. I’ve had Ashley Huntington of Two Metre Tall in
Tasmania come up to do one and Modus Operandi, so when you have a
brewer people come.
WHAT DO YOU FIND IS THE MOST EXCITING ASPECT
OF AUSTRALIA’S CRAFT BEER SCENE?
Literally just its growth. Because the beer industry in Australia has
kind of plateaued over the last five or so years, whereas craft beer has
continued to rise. And in Sydney even just over the last two years it’s
been nuts. The amount of new guys coming into it having left old jobs
and opening their own breweries and having that amount of success,
they’re small guys and they’re just having fun with it, with new styles.
Australia has finally become a bit more in the spotlight, because America
has always been there and even New Zealand was ahead of Australia and
now we’re finally putting some stamps on it.
Someone was asking me if I thought Marrickville was too saturated
with breweries now, and I don’t think it is because people want to see
new stuff, and they’ll stay loyal to the others but they then just add it into
their craft beer crawl through Marrickville. So it’s not like any of them
lose customers, everyone just gains. And everyone is so friendly, it’s just a
massive big family.
HAVE YOU GOT YOUR EYE ON ANY EXCITING UP
AND COMING BREWERIES?
There’s one called CoConspirators Brewing Co which has released a New
England IPA and that was very highly anticipated. I am very sceptical of
New England’s so I went and tried one and it was awesome, it was such
a good beer.
Also Capital Brewing from Canberra. One of their owners live in
Sydney and he came and did a tasting recently which was good fun and
they’ve got some good stuff in the pipeline.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR THOSE WHO ARE
STRUGGLING WITH THEIR BEER RANGING?
Really listen to what your customers want. Through the weekdays
especially around lunchtime I get a lot of regulars in and it’s just nice
having a chat to them and seeing what they’re enjoying at the moment.
It helps me to keep an eye on what is trending. So New England IPA is
on trend, Saison is on trend, that sort of thing. But just really catering to
your punters and making sure that you’ve got a good mix as well. I know
craft can be expensive on occasion but there are some guys out there that
do really good, well priced, easy drinking beers and they’re easily in the
name of craft, like Philter Brewing for instance, she’s an awesome brewer.
Their XPA is super simple, it ticks craft and it’s delicious.
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