The Hop Shop focuses on sustainable indie quality

Simon Garry with a refillable Growler bottle

Simon Garry with a refillable Growler bottle

It stirred up a bit of controversy when someone posted the liquor licence application on Facebook and asked, "How does everyone feel about another bottle shop opening up in Bello?"

There were cries of "No - we've got three already", but Simon Garry, who opened The Hop Shop on Hyde St just before Christmas, said he wasn't tempted to weigh in.

"I just let it fly past. I knew what we were doing was completely different to anything else in the region," he said.

In moving to Bellingen with his young family two years ago and starting a business specialising in independently-owned craft beer, wine and spirits, Simon has executed both a tree change and a career shift.

The plan was to escape the city, bring up the kids in a rural environment, terminate his 12-year career as a maths teacher and try something he felt more passionate about.

But why an indie bottle shop?

"Because I love beer and wine and whiskey, that's the short answer," Simon said, before clarifying that he wasn't excessively fond of them.

"The whole philosophy of our business and that of the craft beer and fine wine scene is to drink less but drink quality," he said.

The Hop Shop's business model is based on three main ideas - independence, sustainability and quality.

We only stock products from independently-owned businesses, we support eco/sustainable practices in the booze industry, and we are only interested in high-quality items.

Simon Garry

"We only stock products from independently-owned businesses, we support eco/sustainable practices in the booze industry, and we are only interested in high-quality items," Simon said.

Over 90 per cent of the Australian beer market is dominated by multinational companies, so you won't find their mass-produced brands at The Hop Shop.

"Our bestseller is the Bello Pale Ale from the Bellingen Brewery," Simon said. "We're also selling a lot of sour beers. They've been around for ages in Belgium but it's definitely a trending thing now to have fruited sours. They're very refreshing for summer, and people who have had them in the cities have been very happy to find them here."

Spirits from the award-winning Dobson's Distillery on the New England Tablelands are also very popular, Simon said, and so are natural wines.

"That's definitely a trending sector of the market. They often have either no or very minimal sulphites, which are preservatives. They're often fermented on the skins and in the bottle, so they have a cloudy appearance."

As part of its sustainability ethos, The Hop Shop has a zero-waste refilling station, which means you can buy or bring a Growler container and get it filled up.

"We have eight taps. Six of them are for beer, two of them will be for wine," Simon said, explaining that the wine kegs haven't arrived yet because their supplier has been affected by bushfires.

"They're a wine maker in the Byron Bay hinterland and they source a lot of their grapes from the New England region, and so they've had a difficult summer."

Located at 1/72 Hyde St, Bellingen (next to the pharmacy), The Hop Shop is open seven days from 10am to 7pm.