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Thursday, 2 February 2017

5 Questions - GRATE Beer, Westfield London, Shepherd's Bush

Gerry's Kitchen, 5 Questions, GRATE Beer, Westfield London, Harviestoun Brewery, Donald Trump
At the end of last year, myself and Nicola took a trip to London hoping to take advantage of the Christmas sales. After picking up bargains at Harrods and Selfridge's, we rode the tube to Shepherds Bush in order to see one of the largest shopping centre in Europe, Westfield London.
The shopping centre is spread across five floors with almost 400 retailers occupying retail floor space that is equivalent to 30 football pitches. There's a great balance of luxury brands, high street names and department stores, the centre has something for everyone but as we had a busy day planned, we didn't have time to see all that Westfield London has to offer but will definitely be revisiting the next time we are in the Capital.
Of all the shops spread across the giant shopping centre, it was the GRATE Beer shop that caught my attention. The UK craft beer industry has been growing at a phenomenal rate and although some of the supermarkets have made it easier to buy craft beer, I still find it difficult to source beers from a wider range of breweries without going to a specialist retailer, so to find a purveyor of fine craft beer in the middle of a shopping centre was a joy to behold.
From their open plan shop inside Westfield London, GRATE Beer are passionate about beer they like and beer they don't! In addition to selling a huge range of craft beers from across the UK, Europe and the US, they also have a few beers on tap for the weary shopper. We had a few minutes to spare before heading back to the tube station so popped in for a look and ended up chatting with GRATE'S owner Rob Flanagan. Gerry's Kitchen is all about telling stories and Rob certainly had a tale to tell so I quickly set about asking him 5 Questions.
Gerry's Kitchen, 5 Questions, GRATE Beer, Westfield London, Harviestoun Brewery, Donald Trump
Here's Rob's story;

How did you get started?

With a love for beer and a drinks industry career of quite a few years I've had a fascination for the constant evolvement of the world of beer. It probably comes from being brought up in Burton on Trent. Aware of the revolution of craft beer I was convinced that it could and should have a wider audience if it were more accessible. GRATE beer is all about bringing superb craft and independent drinks to a wider audience, that's why we are smack bang in the middle of a busy shopping centre.

What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?

Whatever your idea is, focus on it and don't deviate. When it gets difficult stay true to the idea and work hard to make it fly. Oh and make sure it's good fun.

Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?

A GRATE Beer bar and shop in every large shopping centre in the UK.....and a few other countries, showcasing the best of independent breweries and distilleries

If you could only have drink one of the beers that you sell, what would it be & why?

Harviestoun Ola Dubh, a superb stout fermented in 12 yr old sherry casks

Gerry's Kitchen, 5 Questions, GRATE Beer, Westfield London, Harviestoun Brewery, Donald Trump

​​You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

If I can cheat I'd choose my family. It would be good fun and noisy. Loads of chat, mainly about football but plenty of other stuff too.

The menu would probably be a Sunday roast (always chicken) with cold apple pie and cream to follow.

Gerry's Kitchen, 5 Questions, GRATE Beer, Westfield London, Harviestoun Brewery, Donald Trump

If I can't cheat, Donald Trump, be good to check if he's taking the p***.

The menu - maybe we'd go for Mexican food!

Gerry's Kitchen, 5 Questions, GRATE Beer, Westfield London, Harviestoun Brewery, Donald Trump
I remember Tom Cruise's character in the movie Cocktail, Brian Flanagan, being laughed out of college for presenting a business plan which involved opening a bar in every suburban shopping mall but maybe that's not such a bad idea after all. Who would have thought that another 'Flanagan' would pick up the baton with hopes of bringing Brian's dream to reality? You could even say that it's a GRATE idea!
I would like to thank Rob for taking time out to answer 5 Questions and wish him every success in the future. Who knows, next time you go shopping, you might be relaxing with a chilled craft beer at your local GRATE while your other half wanders the malls.
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