Australia has come a long way since a hard-earned thirst meant a Vic cold beer.
Prompted by a desire to be his own boss and meet an unmet demand for craft beer in Sydney, Richard Kelsey and Geoff Huens established the Beer Cartel, offering craft beers from the great southern land and beyond. Huens’s Belgian heritage also gave him a bit of a head start when it came to appreciating the niceties of a decent lager or ale.
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“Craft beer is a growth segment that is unloved by most bottleshops, however there is real demand for good quality craft beer,” Kelsey says.
The Beer Cartel is a bottle-o with all the bells and whistles: a monthly beer club, beer glasses, beer gifts, beer hampers and “beer experiences” such as beer degustation events and brew-your-own courses.
Despite the usual irks of starting up a new business – too few hours in the day being one – Kelsey has enjoyed watching Beer Cartel grow, turning customers on to new and exotic brews, and getting great customer feedback. Getting to taste new beers isn’t too bad, either.
On average, the Beer Cartel receives 6500 unique visits to its website, with this peaking in the December gift giving season at 10,000 (67,000 page views). Online sales for 2011 were $150,000 and there are 1400 people on the email list, 1300 Facebook fans and 3000 Twitter followers.
The Beer Cartel has now gone from being an online enterprise to also having a bricks and mortar store in Artarmon.