Everyone has some sort of nonsense phrase that means nothing to the wider population yet, to a small group of friends, it’s hilarious.
Take such a concept and turn it into a craft beer bar sporting eight taps of local offerings and more than 180 others filling fridges and you’ve got the just-opened a brainchild of Jarred Turnbull: Bo Gurks.
“The name? It all started from a few mates sitting around a table drinking beers,” Jarred says.
“One of our friends just misspoke and blurted out ‘Bo Gurks’ and from there, the phrase just stuck. It just became something we’d say when we were having a few beers: ‘Want to head out for a few Bo Gurks?’”
The new addition to Melbourne’s craft beer scene in the outer southeast only opened in March, but Bo Gurks spent many years developing in Jarred’s head.
“I’ve been dreaming of Bo Gurks for over 20 years now,” he says.
“Now that it’s actually open, it’s a strange feeling. It feels like the end of one journey and the start of another.”
Jarred first fell in love with craft beer during his time working behind bars in London, sparking a desire to open a venue that showcased Australian craft beer while bringing people together in a way England’s snug pubs do so well.
“In London, the venues felt like someone’s living room, that’s how comfortable they felt and how people acted in them,” he says.
“I wanted to create a venue where people could just come together and catch up.”
Getting the doors open has been a long process, with Jarred stumbling upon the space on the Nepean Highway after a long and unsuccessful day looking at properties.
“I was driving along feeling pretty discouraged when I saw it,” he says.
“It had this tiny little sign on it that said it was for sale. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the one.”
It needed a complete renovation before it could open, and the process from discovery to opening was an expensive one, ultimately leading him to head over to Western Australia to work in the mines to earn some extra cash. While over there, COVID-19 hit, trapping him interstate while his dad worked away on the venue.
“It was very frustrating,” Jarred says. “I just wanted to be back and be able to help. I couldn’t do anything, I just had to trust that everything was going to plan while I was away.”
It's not the only new opening destined to bring joy to craft beer lovers in that part of Melbourne. A short along the Nepean Highway is another local that’s been bringing better beer to Melbourne’s bayside residents for years but which has just celebrated a major expansion to its beer offering.
Alice Rebel’s Café & Bar is run by Meg and Matt Anderson; after first opening as a café in 2015, in 2018 they started offering a wide selection of craft beer, spirits and wine to Chelsea residents. They’ve since added Alice's Alcove in the same arcade, a venue focused on fresh produce, gourmet foods, ready-made meals and – since becoming fully licensed a week ago – a wide selection of craft beer.
Meg says that Melbourne’s long lockdowns last year and the switch to takeaway sales helped many people find them for the first time.
“Our business actually got better during COVID,” she says. “The five kilometre lockdown really made it easier for people to discover us.”
She says there’s a growing understanding of craft beer in the area too, with people seeking out a wider variety and – particularly given what Melburnians experienced last year – eager to support local.
“People were so impressed with the fact that we have majority Victorian beers,” Meg says.
“We’re feeling a bit more insular about our stuff [post-COVID]. Even the produce that we’ve put into the Alcove, [most] of it’s Victorian, from pasta through to chilli sauces.”
At Bo Gurks, Jarred says locals seemed ready to enjoy what they had to offer from the outset, and that he’ll never forget the feeling of welcoming people on opening night.
“It was a lot of excitement and relief,” he says, laughing.
“Seeing the reaction from people was really satisfying and really exciting. This is a venue for everyone, but especially for Edithvale locals."
You can find Bo Gurks, Alice Rebel's and Alcove plus hundreds of other good beer venues across Australia in the free Crafty Pint app.