Right the middle of Westhill, you will find a BP petrol station with a Spar store attached. To the naked eye - this just looks like an ordinary petrol station/shop...but take a wander inside to the alcohol section and you find a craft beer emporium!
The first thing you will likely notice will be the entire stall dedicated solely to Brewdog. The selection available is fantastic - not just the headliners (Punk IPA, 5AM Saint, Dead Pony Club, Kingpin & Jet Black Heart), but they stock almost all of the latest releases. If I notice on Facebook or Instagram that Brewdog are releasing some new beers in the bar that night - 90% of the time they will be available in the Service Station on the same day! Unfortunately, I don't live 5 mins walk from a Brewdog bar, so it is great to be able to nip in to the garage and check out the latest offerings on the day they are released.
Alongside Brewdog, they have also recently started stocking Aberdeen's very own Fierce Beer (Dyce) and have a great selection of their offerings. They also stock lots of other local Scottish craft breweries and have a fantastic, wide range available.
You will also find a selection of international breweries - Stone Brewing from Berlin are one of the latest to be stocked alongside Pabst Brewing from USA.
The chilled section boasts some of the most popular beers - which is an added bonus.
I recently spoke to Chris Proctor, one of the supervisors at the store who has been dealing with Brewdog, Drygate & Stone breweries for the last while, and I had the chance to ask him some questions:
I was really curious where the boom of craft beer at the garage came from? Was Darren (store manager) into craft beer and made the decision to start selling it?
The variety of craft beer we offer initially sparks from either individual companies reaching out to us with a desire to work together, or it can be ourselves doing the contacting if a particular brewery catches our eye. Although our craft sales are doing better now than ever, the eclectic range you see on our shelves has been a work in progress, spanning over many years. We had a rather hefty store refurbishment back in 2013, which allowed us to expand our chilled and ambient alcohol sections. This extra space gave way not only to the usual suspects that always sell well, but to also offering new and alternative beers. I believe it was Darren’s aim to go above and beyond what most retailers like ours typically provide, and today, it certainly appears to have paid off!
Is there some sort of connection with Brewdog? I find it amazing that more often than not when there is a new release at Brewdog... It's on the shelf at the garage the same day!
Initially, when we started working with Brewdog, our display was very minimal - a couple different bottles or so at most. However it didn’t take long before our orders started to noticeably increase. Today, we have a separated stand dedicated to Brewdog, and this year we’ve also moved some of the top sellers into their own chilled fridge as well. There’s a Brewdog rep that visits local stores and he’s always blown away by our extensive range. Their Direct Sales Coordinator is someone I speak to pretty much every week and he does a great job to look after us and yes, hook us up with new beers to sell right on the hour they’re officially released. I can only see our relationship with Brewdog growing, and as long as they’re brewing, we’ll be selling!
Do you find that there's a lot of interest in the craft beer selection you have?
Absolutely! It’s hard not to acknowledge the vast amount of craft beer lovers nearby that keep our stock moving. The craft stuff really is one of Westhill Service Station’s strongpoints. I think our passion to bring new and exciting beer to the public, links very well with the simultaneous rise in people’s interests and desires to try out beers new and alternative. Most weekends that I’m in the store, it’s more common than not to see several customers filling their baskets with a mixed selection to taste test. We’ve just recently set up a Facebook page for people to follow what’s new in the shop and what we have on offer in our ever expanding fresh and hot food section. A few posts in, and we’d mentioned some new craft items and it quickly gathered a significant online reach. I believe the next day, our craft sales rocketed! Again, I can only see this interest growing as long as we continue to provide what people already love, along with new things for people to fall in love with!
How do you decide which beers to stock next? For example I noticed in the last week you have started stocking Stone Brewing beers.
I’d say it’s trial and error, but honestly, there’s not much we’ve had error’s with regarding what’s ordered in. Everything seems to shift well which is fantastic. Firstly, when ordering something from a new brewery, we’ll test the water with a small batch on display and then see how it goes from there. The first few weeks of a new beer on the shelf is usually always successful, but what we look for is whether that pace is sustainable overtime. The new Stone stuff we’ve just got in is a prime example of how we let our selection grow. For instance, we’ve ordered in beers with some of the lowest ABV’s that Stone offer, in order to keep the prices lower for the customer to feel happy enough to try them out. If customers start returning to the Stone beers, then we can continue to expand and look at getting in stronger (pricier) options. Another thing we are passionate about is using local suppliers. There’s an abundance of indie craft breweries kicking about in Scotland, and Aberdeen’s very own Fierce beer is one of our latest local suppliers that are doing tremendous things this year.
If you haven't already visited Westhill Service Station and checked out their craft beer selection - I highly recommend doing so. There is a much better range of Craft Beer in there that you will find in most big supermarkets! 🍻
You can also follow them on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/WesthillServiceStation
Westhill Service Station is located on Straik Road, Westhill, AB32 6TJ.