This blog post will be in english due to the subject beeing a brewing and winemaking supply store in Melbourne Australia that I got to visit during my trip down there. Grain and Grape started as John Preston began homebrewing with his friend Laurie Cahir in 1987 and they first had plans to open a brewery together. Plans change and after a few years they instead opened a homebrew shop called Southern Home Brewing in Edithvale, a suburb south of Melbourne, and soon it became the second largest homebrew shop in Australia. They also started a brewers club that held meetings in the back of the shop. In 1993 they opened a second shop in Maidstone which they each ran seperately until they split up the business in 2000. Around that time, they also started demo all grain brewing in the back of the shop with Chris Schaefer and Paul Rigby. John and Chris delevoped their own HERMS system in perfect time when the homebrewing scene really took of in popularity worldwide. In 2005, they had outgrowned their store and moved to the warehouse that they currently operate from in Yarraville, just a 15 min drive from downtown Melbourne. They got a license to sell commercial beers from a variety of breweries and when I visited the store, they even had a few Omnipollo in the fridge! In 2010, Grain & Grape started collaborating and distribute Speidels full range of products across the country. They also got their own 500 litre Braumeister that they use for producing fresh wort kits which is a product that you purchase, top off with about 3 litres of water (optional), add your yeast and ferment at home. This became very popular and they still produce and sell these kits to this day. 2015 they expanded to the warehouse next door, got a big hot liquor tank and increased the brewing capacity even more. At that time, they also started to develope and sell complete craft brewing systems based around the 200L and 500L Braumeister units with everything from fermentation tanks, oxygenation units to bottle fillers or kegwashing systems. In 2017 they started selling complete all grain kits and also added a second 500L Braumeister which now works as a 900 litre boil kettle. They also added the “wall of beer” where customers can try out beers from tap in the shop!
Today in may 2018 Grain & Grape consist of 15 workers including management and the business has now been operating over 25 years! Besides beer brewing equipment and ingredients, they also sell most of what you need to produce wine, cheese and even sausages (no pig nor beef meat as of yet unfortunately) at home. They brew in the shop almost every day and also run weekly demos of different home brewing equipment. Next week they will have a brewoff demo with 6-7 different setups brewing at the same time, from BIAB thru three tier all the way up to the big, bad boy Braumeister 500L! One major factor to the company’s success is the fact that they spend much time acquiring knowledge about homebrewing that they gladly share with all their customers face to face. They are also a heavy contributor to the Australian homebrewing scene through events and organizations such as Australian National Homebrewing Conference and Homebrew 101 during Good Beer Week.
When I visited the store, Matt Collinson was about to start lautering the first batch of the day in the Braumeister. I was kindly invited to watch the process while we (me, the founder John, Matt and Chris) were discussion the company, homebrewing in general and my process of developing low oxygen brewing techniques with the Braumeister. I also got a backstage tour of the whole warehouse, from grainmill to the large stack of malt and stainless equipment. Since I was just passing thru and was working I didn’t had the chance to try out their beers on tap but I did got around to do a little shopping from their great variety of equipment. Sadly I could only buy small stuff that could fit in my already very heavy suitcase but I did manage to to get a little tap tower upgrade.
Grain and Grape is located at 5/280 Whitehall Street, Yarraville slightly east of downtown Melbourne and if you get a chance, it’s well worth a visit!
Paul Rigby and Chris Schaefer
Chris Schaefer, Paul Rigby and Steve Volkman