Ghost Whale, Brixton’s new bottle shop, will open tomorrow with some special offers, one-off beers and free samples. The shop at 70 Atlantic Road, will have four beers on tap, to either drink in (there will be seating for ten) or to take home in a growler and 300 beers and ciders in bottle or can.

The name Ghost Whale and colourful design of fluke and waves don’t exactly shout beer. Co-owner, Alex Fitzpatrick explains that they had wanted something “ambiguous and intriguing, not too macho or too beardy” (Alex is bearded but modestly). A bit of brainstorming led from white whale for a rare beer, to a ghost whale for an impossible to find one and that’s the name that clicked.

hail the hops beerAlex looked to the wine trade for inspiration. Wine’s gender neutral, you can match it with any food and what people like is down to their individual palate. “We want to cast the net open to everybody, whether it’s the nineteen year old student not wanting to just get trashed or the 45 year old mother of two buying something nice to have with dinner.” Alex adds that craft beer has helped change beer culture. “It’s taste rather than volume. People appreciate what they drink”.

I ask about price. There is no getting away from it that craft beers are expensive. The breweries lack economies of scale for a start and also use good and sometimes unusual ingredients. He’d rather sell someone three beers that they will really enjoy than twice that number of less interesting ones.

Alex and his fellow Ghost Whaler, Stuart Anderson, have been best friends since they were eleven and have had a few abortive attempts to start a business together. The bottle shop idea has grown up over the past four years. Their respective skills and backgrounds – Alex ran the Holy Road record label and Stuart has been a project manager - led to a natural division of labour. Alex took on branding, merchandising and building contacts with distributors, while Stuart took on the fitting out of the shop.

The formal launch party will be the last Friday in January. They reasoned that their opening is too close to Christmas to cram in another party and by late January, people will be ready to start enjoying life again.

One other thing to look forward to is the opening of a small, beer garden in the spring, which sounds idyllic.

 

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