It’s not every day someone with a camera strapped to their chest pours you a beer.
It’s also not every day that it happens to the soundtrack of live jazz music, while you eat pastries from a shop owned by celebrity chef Adriano Zumbo.
However this wasn’t the launch of an everyday venue.
Tru Bru is probably what would be called a “concept” store rather than a bottle shop. Situated near South Yarra train station, it specialises in draught beer, cider and soft drink, sold for takeaway in three different sizes. Most beer lovers would be familiar with a “growler” (a 1.89l glass or stainless steel vessel used to sell draught beer for takeaway) and some might be familiar with a “squealer” (950ml version), however Tru Bru are also offering “whistlers” which are a 475ml versions.
Or to use their branding, Growling Bear, Squealing Hare and Whistling Mare.
The launch, as you may have guessed from the mention of live jazz and delicious pastries, was quite slick. While at the time the draught system wasn’t quite up and running, beer flowed from cans and everyone admired the classy shop fit out.
With t-shirts and caps on custom built wood shelves, it reminded me of a clothes store that I probably don’t want to be in, so I’m glad they had beer – which I like.
And as ambitious as the launch was, it’s clear that owner Anton Sagan has even more ambitious plans
“From day one the team behind Tru Bru set out to create a network of outlets, which is evident in our approach to concept development, branding, risk management and store stylisation,” he said.
“We are in discussions with a number of parties about rolling the concept out geographically to expand our presence leveraging supply chain management efficiencies and improving the convenience of swapping and refilling Tru Bru growlers, squealers and whistlers”.
Now let’s be honest here, we don’t often see language like that from bottle store owners, or just about anyone outside of the big beer brands, so it’s no surprise to learn that Anton has a business background.
“My background is Commercial Management on large infrastructure development projects around Australia and overseas over the last 8 years. I hold a Bachelor of Business and Masters of Diplomacy and Trade.
“My education and experience from large corporates with effective systems, protocols and processes is allowing us to establish Tru Bru start-up on a solid base” he said.
While this exciting to see someone come into the industry with a strong business plan, it does need to be about great beer, and they are definitely making that their priority.
“Tru Bru stands for True Flavour and Brewery Freshness… ‘Draught to go’, as we refer to the concept, gives people the opportunity to drink fresh flavoursome brews straight out of kegs and anywhere that suits them, without visiting brewery each time.”
Now I will admit I had some concerns when I first spoke to Anton and he said he wanted to make the growler concept “approachable”. While I love that good beer is gaining acceptance and people are increasingly finding ways to convert drinkers to a wide range of flavours, I’ve quite often found “approachable” to mean “maybe a bit boring”.
However since opening they have had local beers such as the True South Black Lager, Holgate Little Heifer, Illawarra Brewing Pumpkin Ale and Riverside 77 IPA, alongside international favourites such as Thornbridge Jaipur, Coronado Blue Bridge Coffee Stout and Brooklyn Lager.
While you could describe some of those as approachable, you would be hard pressed to find a serious beer lover not interested in at least a couple.
Alongside the beers, there are also ciders and a fermented soft drink “kombucha” from Mojo.
Over the coming weeks Tru Bru will have 20 taps, offer home delivery, online ordering and a live updating website.
Ok, I’ll be honest, that’s pretty approachable.
Tru Bru are open Tue – Sun, 11am – 8pm at 3/9 Yarra St, South Yarra, Melbourne.