“The greatest mania of all is passion: and I am a natural slave to passion: the balance between my brain and my soul and my body is as wild and delicate as the skin of a Ming vase.”
HUNTER S. THOMPSON, The Curse of Lono
I am a Coventry kid and very proud of it, it’s a city that has got a bad rep, often laughed about or treated with derision, but it is a city of industrious people, with a sense of independent spirit, typified by its defiance to not be part of ‘Greater Birmingham’. It’s this independent spirit that has made the growing Coventry beer scene so exciting with Twisted Barrel, Inspire Café Bar, Drapers Bar & Beer Gonzo at the forefront of this.
Recently we had the opportunity to speak to Anthony, the owner of Beer Gonzo to learn more about the bottle shop and the exciting new Tap Room they have recently opened.
Like many recent stories of opportunity and the adventure of independent business, it starts with the credit crunch. Around 2007, Ant was unfortunately made redundant, but thanks to a friendship with Mark Leape and a love of Belgian beer (his epiphany beer is Duvel) he began working at Inspire Café. Once they realised people were choosing to have drinks at home, before coming out later in response to the credit crunch an off licence was the obvious choice for their next business venture.
Alexander Wines in Earlsdon had already had a reputation for quality drinks, so when they took it over in 2010 they wished to build on this reputation and add a good selection of Belgian beers to the offering. In late 2012 they hit a speed bump when handed a one months’ notice to end their tenancy, and though they were able to find new premises would have to wait 6 months until they were able to open.
The new store, Beer Gonzo, was originally envisaged as a shop front for their online store but after they opened on May Day 2013 the beer scene had changed, with the people of Coventry excited about the new breweries and exciting new beers, and more willing to experiment. This was underlined by how quickly they sold a bottle of Wild Beer Co, Ninkasi.
Ant’s original passion was Belgian Beer, and thanks to relationships they begun cultivate while at Alexander Wines, they are able stock some of the most interesting beers from Belgian best breweries, including beers from Brasserie Cantillon Brouwerij, St. Bernardus Brouwerij & Brasserie Fantôme and can now boast one of the best selection of Belgian beers available to buy in the UK.
With a focus on high quality breweries they have expanded their stock to include some of the most exciting breweries from the states such as Crooked Stave, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales & Wicked Weed Brewing alongside all the very best that UK breweries has to offer, including beer from local breweries such as Twisted Barrel.
Through the success of the shop Beer Gonzo has created a community feel, going on a journey with their customers exploring exciting and interesting beers together, and to quote Anthony…
“Interaction with people in a happy place”
With the increased success of the website sales, the shop store room was no longer big enough and the decision was made to move to a separate warehouse space, leaving Ant with the predicament of what to do with all the space he now had…a Tap Room of course, but a Tap Room done Beer Gonzo’s way.
The Tap Room has now been open since January and has proved to be a fantastic success, employing the principles of great international and UK based beers, with a focus on interesting and high quality. Since opening they have routinely had one of the most interesting and exciting tap lists in the region… I mean…just look at it…in Coventry.
Boasting 16 taps with the taps 1 to 8 cooled at 8°C for Stouts and Porters and, taps 9 to 16 cooled at 6°C for sours and pales to ensure the beers are always served at their best. Growlers can also be purchased and filled.
Along with the exciting tap list Ant has also create an astonishing collection of rare bottled Lambic that can also be purchased and consumed in the tap room. In fact, we almost brought a tear to Ant’s eye when we raided the selection on the opening night.
Future plans include beer tastings with Roberto Ross, more meet the brewer events and setting up The Share, a bottle share. Ant also plans to continue to have more rare Lambics. They continue to want to go on a journey with their customer, tasting brilliant beers with people from Coventry and beyond.
You no longer need to wait to be sent to Coventry, you can choose to go yourself and drink the excellent beers available!
“Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”
HUNTER S. THOMPSON
Check out www.beergonzo.co.uk to shop online and find out the opening times for the bottle shop and tap room.