I went to visit a bottle shop in the little town of Burntwood, near Lichfield City that has recently been catching my eye on Twitter. It goes by the name of Simply Burntwood and appears to be a godsend to many craft beer lovers in the area, many coming from far and wide. I decided to check out its actual location on Google maps and to my surprise, it appears to be in the middle of nowhere! I just had to see what all the fuss was about , so I hit the train up to Lichfield and hopped in a cab, 50 minutes later I was at the place.
I walked in and to my amazement walked into row upon row of craft beer and real ale. I was met by Vikesh Harji, one of the owners who told me that when he first took over this shop (about eight years ago) it was SERIOUSLY run down. After doing it up, sales actually declined and Viks was left scratching his head!? Then by chance, he was reading the Off Licence Magazine and saw a spread on Stirchley Wines and Cotteridge Wines. He then checked them out on Twitter and thought I can do this!
Vikesh started checking out the breweries and contacting them, soon he had a fair few decent brews on the shelf, using social media as his tool for finding new beers to stock.
“Social media is the perfect platform for me to learn and find out what people are drinking, what’s good and what’s not so good.”
Rapidly Simply Burntwood has expanded, quadrupling its range since last year and now stocks well over 2,000 beers! The quality of beer has also led to a better range of spirits.
But that’s not all, Viks isn’t alone in searching for new beers, his customers help him too!..
“Customers message me to say this is coming out soon, can you get it in? It’s still tough to compete with the other great beer stockists out there and I usually only manage to get 1/2 cases and 1/3 cases but the store is certainly serving the local craft beer scene well!”
Vikesh now has plans to expand floor space for even more craft beer and potentially fit a tap room out back, so I’m certain that I will be returning soon!