This year marks the twenty first birthday of Cotteridge Wines, the Mecca for many beer lovers in the UK.
Run by brothers Kal and Jaz, the boys were given the shop when their father who had run it before them retired from the business.
It was at this point that they decided to try something new for the area, and so alongside the usual Carling and Stella, spirits and wine, the brothers started to stock Belgian and German beer.
Over the following years they slowly increased the range until they were drawing in customers from across the Midlands, building a network of contacts in the process, and this led to Kal and Jaz making the leap into the world of Craft beer,
“We had a customer called Tom Bishop who came in for the Belgian stuff,” says Kal, “and as we got to know him he started telling us about new breweries such as The Kernel, Brodie’s and Buxton.”
Initially the brothers were buying beer through wholesalers, but it quickly became evident that they could get a better deal and more importantly, pass on that better deal to customers, if they sourced their stock directly from the breweries.
Initial moves were made towards Mikkeller who turned them down several times before James at Brodie’s Brewery stepped in.
He was friends with Mikkeller and put in a good word,
“It all changed at that point,” Kal remembers, “and so much credit goes to James because after the Mikkeller link doors started opening for us all over the place.
As the shop’s stock grew, what had once been most of the stock quickly became an isle of Carling and then a single shelf, as more and more people heard about the variety of beer that was to be found in the unassuming little shop in a Birmingham suburb.
Kal and Jaz began importing from the United States, across Europe, Scandinavia, all over the place in the pursuit of new beer to put on their shelves, and as they did more customers came.
More recently the boys got a license to open a tasting bar in their back room and started holding small events which have included meet the brewer sessions with Siren Craft Brew and Mad Hatter Brewing Company, along with an intimate CAMRGB afternoon of beer and songs.
And there have been awards too, the shop being voted the best of its class on several occasions, including Best Bottle Shop three years in a row by RateBeer.
Jaz and Kal keep their feet firmly on the ground, they love their shop and they love their customers, many of whom have become firm friends and meet up on a weekend afternoon to try beer and hang out.
The brothers know the value of getting to know their customer base on a personal level, and a little while ago named a collaborative beer that they had made with Brodie’s after Tom Bishop as a thank you for pointing them in the direction that they headed all those years ago, and this very personal manner of doing buisiness is how they work with the breweries too,
“We have to thank all the brewers,” Kal Explains, “because the way they work with us is essential to the way Cotteridge Wines operates.”
There are big things planned for Cotteridge Wines’ twenty first year and I, as a friend and customer, I can’t wait to find out what they are going to be doing.
Cotteridge Wines have a new website launching soon.
For now follow them on Twitter at @CotteridgeWines.