We went down to BottleCraft to chat to co-owner Chris about their upcoming plans for the craft beer bar’s 4th Birthday. It’s been a little over a year since I first ventured into BottleCraft, and I have to admit that as it had been the last stop on a tour of Stoke’s beer scene, my memories of the place were full of enjoyment but somewhat blurry! However, on arrival this time it jogged my hazy memory as to how awesome this place is; a bare breezeblock interior, minimalist furniture, and a fantastic, wood-panelled bar that lay host to 12 keg lines, 2 cask and a wide range of tipples to suit anyone. On the left-hand side were four fridges lined up, with 200-odd beers in separate fridges dependant on style, each set to the optimum temperature. Upstairs had further seating and a curious mural of two rabbits humping on the wall. They even had a can of Carling on the side that they have been aging and are selling for £20 with a glass… #Bargain!
I sat down with Chris and he told me where it all began, leaning on the bar with a reminiscent smile on him…
“There’s me, Rich and Tom. I’ve been friends with Rich for about 17 years now. Working in the trade, we’ve always said that it would be ace to have our own bar. Rich and Tom became drinking buddies; Tom was working in London at the time, he’d come back up and regale us with these fantastic tales of fantastic ales and bring some back up. We were so jealous as there was nowhere in Stoke to get hold of these things at the time. One drunken afternoon we sort of said let’s do it, wrote some ideas down on the back of beer mat, went to bed and the next morning it still seemed like a good idea.”
“When it came to where to open the bar, Newcastle-under-Lyme seemed like the obvious choice at the time, with a good drinking culture on the go, but I had been working in Hanley for some time and thought that Hanley needs this!!!”
“As you can imagine, for us it was a big financial commitment, but in April 2015 we got first place. We started off as a bottle shop with the facility to drink in, but then things really took off and we were hitting capacity, we had to look for a new place. We wanted to stay in the Piccadilly area so we started looking but hadn’t managed to get anywhere. Then our current landlady approached us out of the blue. I’m not going to lie, the place was in complete disrepair and you could see the tiles of the roof from the cellar, but we stripped it down to the bare brick and started from scratch. Since opening the new place in July 2017, it’s gone from strength to strength, growing organically. Now we run plenty of events; poetry nights, live music, gaming nights.”
After our brief chat, we grabbed a beer and Chris gave me the intel on their 4th Birthday plans;
Wed 1st May – A Bottle Share Event. Bring your own bottles to share together with other like-minded beer enthusiasts.
Thurs 2nd May – A tasting night curated by Chris, with 10 beers that have never been in the shop before alongside food. Tickets are £20 and you get to take home your favourite beer.
Fri 3rd May – Cloudwater and Northern Monk Tap Takeover plus DJ Eddie Kerr.
Sat 4th May – DJ Calum Murphy.
Sun 5th May – Live music from local artists
So get down to BottleCraft from the 1st – 5th of May and celebrate with Chris, Tom and Rich, while sampling some truly tasty brews!