Even those with little more than a passing interest will have noticed that the craft beer scene across New South Wales has, in recent years, been expanding wildly in all directions like a raging bull. In general, that’s meant it has become far easier to find a good local drop, with the distance you have to travel to do so diminishing ever further.
But, for drinkers on the Central Coast, progress has been relatively slow. True, there's now a cluster of local breweries where you can drink at the source but, should you wish to explore a broader selection, a trip to the nearest specialist beer bottleshop still meant driving all the way to Sydney in the south or Newcastle to the north. That is no longer the case, however: accessing the world of beer from the Central Coast is now simply a matter of popping into Gosford where Oldfield Cellars awaits.
From the road it doesn't look particularly promising, if you see it at all; nestled behind a petrol station, in front of a Hungry Jacks and beneath a 24 hour gym, it’s easy to miss while whizzing past on the Central Coast Highway. But to judge this place by its surroundings is to be deceived because inside there are hundreds of options: big bottles and convenient cans; beer brewed down the road and beer from around the world; stuff that’s hard to find and more that’s as fresh as you could want it. Whether it’s sweet, sour, smoked or spiced, there’s bound to be something here to scratch your particular itch.
For all that, owner Garth Oldfield is not necessarily a beer guy. His own expertise is in wine where he is something of an industry veteran, having managed several high profile stores in Sydney before starting his own business focusing on independent and specialist producers. It was his customers there, looking for interesting beer that followed the same philosophy, who coaxed him down the beer path.
He quickly discovered that this was something that required going all-in, so opened Oldfield Cellars as the place to do it. To help him along he sought to bring in some extra expertise, so when staff from the local Dan Murphy’s started doing their beer shopping at his store Garth poached the most enthusiastic to lead the charge. Now the store has a team with the knowledge to go toe to toe with any beer geek that walks through the door as they turn Oldfield Cellars into the kind of beer destination they want it to be.
Having the gumption to open a beer focused bottleshop where there was none before, and then pinch people from the big retailers, shows that Garth isn’t afraid to take a punt when a good opportunity comes his way. It also goes some way to explaining why this is probably the only bottleshop in the country where you can pick up fresh oysters plucked from the waters over the road – when someone came in touting fresh local seafood, Garth figured that people like oysters with wine, so why not with their beer too? (FYI: Thursday is delivery day and they’re generally all sold before the weekend).
While beer is the main focus for this store, and will be increasingly so as they expand the range and an enormous cellar space to hold more beer and host events, Garth casts a careful eye over the wine selection to ensure it always holds its own – it’s not only beer lovers who travel good distance to find something good to drink, after all. When this is supplemented with little accoutrements like printable tasting notes for any wine or beer, a selection of specialist glassware and a range of locally made snacks, you start to understand that Oldfield Cellars is a place where they really care about what they’re doing.