Cricketers Arms didn’t start like a normal brewery and Paul Scott isn’t a normal beer man. In fact Cricketers, as it’s affectionately known, started down the path to success without so much as a business plan.
According to Scott, Cricketers Arms quickly came to life when seven pallets of his smooth lager landed in the storeroom at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda, after being quickly and unexpectedly sold. “I went down there (to The Prince) and I had a heart attack, thinking, ‘How am I going to move seven pallets of beer?’” he says. He’s still very much hands-on in the business and today he’s driving around Melbourne delivering cases of beer. “There was no business plan or anything,” he continues. “It seemed like a good idea.”
Before Cricketers’ inception, Scott had a part share in two of Melbourne’s most prominent city bars and his knowledge was purely market based. During his time as part owner of Cherry Bar and Ding Dong Lounge, he learnt how to sell beer. He knew what Melburnians were drinking, why they were drinking and when they were drinking. But as he goes onto explain, it wasn’t until he met Dermot O'Donnell (former master brewer at Fosters) that he finally discovered the how.
O’Donnell is a world-renowned expert in beer and together he and Scott began researching the Cricketers brew. “I sat down with Dermot and together we tried about 500 beers. Our main aim was to create a beer that was sessional. We wanted people to be able to drink six or seven of them and not feel too bloated,” he says.
“In the end, Dermot got me onto Mildura Brewery. People still think I’m crazy for it, because it’s so far away, but they have the best brewing facilities around. My mantra was that the beer had to be consistently good and consistently the same, so we paid the extra money to brew it in Mildura,” he says.
Over the journey, Scott has proved an exceptional self-promoter, admitting that much of the brand’s reputation is built on good customer service. “My philosophy was to have every single one of my customers happy on Friday evening. It’s a lot of hard work, but that’s how you build relationships. I’ve just delivered 11 boxes to Fitzrovia café, in St Kilda. We go the extra distance and stack it in their storeroom. That is one of the ways we separate ourselves from other beers. You have to be nice to people, build relationships and bend over backwards for your customers,” he says.
Originally, there was only a small group of Melbourne-based businesses that took an immediate shining to Cricketers Arms and if it wasn’t for pubs such as Middle Park Hotel, the brand wouldn’t be where it is today. The beer is now a staple at The Stokehouse in St Kilda and Andrew McConnell establishments including Cumulus Inc., Golden Fields and Cutler & Co.
When explaining the brand’s proliferation, Scott pulls out a familiar catchphrase that sums up his journey with Cricketers Arms so far. “The Stokehouse was the first venue to put us on tap. Our first brew was nine kegs,” he says. “Then they said to me, ‘Your beer is fantastic, would you like to take over both taps?’ So I had a heart attack and then said yes, because when you get opportunities, you have to jump at them. You think about it later, and scramble to get it done.”
Cricketers Arms is now available at over 150 different venues.