Before Little Creatures Brewery was in South Geelong, there was a little family-run business that arguably started the craft beer revolution in Geelong. That little place is the Odyssey Bar & Tavern on Torquay Rd that, with the guidance of owner Grant, has been serving up fine beers and ciders, along with live music, to locals for over two years. And they’ve served up quite a few, as each week they rotate through eight beers on tap and regularly have up to 70 beers to choose from in the fridge.
While they may have quite a few craft beers at their disposal, including a pale ale (The Calypso) and summer ale of their own, the drink is all about the experience. “Craft beer isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality. It’s about showcasing that there’s much more to beer than just plain old lagers,” says Grant.
The great craft at Odyssey isn’t limited to what’s at the bar, as the venue has several live music nights that feature great local acts, something they have built and adapted to demand over two and a half years. The newest music event is the Sunday O’ Suns that happens every Sunday. Just like their beers and ciders, the artists are carefully selected for their ability and atmosphere they create in the small, but cosy, venue.
To help him on his quest to the perfect balance, Grant has enlisted Sydney-born musician Sam Fletcher to create the ultimate line-up. Together, the duo is giving local musicians the chance to share some of their own music, whilst giving punters the chance to hear live and original songs.
“We’re trying to give the artists a voice, to give the artists a personality. We’re doing more than just putting them in the corner and getting them to play music,” Grant says.
Sam wholeheartedly agrees, adding that it’s about being able to strike the balance between background music and being the centre of attention. “It’s about becoming part of the atmosphere and not being the focus of the attention. It can still be powerful, and still be moving in a subtle way,” says Sam. Sam knows first-hand about this balance as he began playing as a musician at Odyssey just over a year ago and has just recently taken on the role of music manager/booker as well.
“In my head I’m a musician and thinking music, but now I’m also thinking in terms of a broader perspective of how it fits in terms of what the establishment is trying to achieve and what the artists are about. It’s quite interesting and I’m learning quite a bit,” says Sam.
Although Odyssey has been known for its live music for a while now, The new partnership is proving to be a good thing, with crowds flocking through Odyssey’s doors even during the colder months – and when the Cats are storming Kardinia Park. While this can be pinned to their quality craft beers, top-notch meals and live music, its main credit and sucsess is the overall experience the Odyssey team delivers.
“We’ve changed a lot of perceptions about hospitality and service and the overall experience that people get when they have a meal and have a drink,” says Grant.
This hasn’t just happened overnight, and the team’s success is due to their loyal customers and the immense help friends and family has given them, who they are eternally thankful of.
“You almost feel guilty at times because you can’t fully thank the people who have helped create what you’ve dreamt of,” says Grant.
If there’s any way to say thank you, it’s for Odyssey to keep achieving bigger and better things and proving that the help from those around them hasn’t gone to waste. Sam has his eye on hosting international acts, while Grant plans to perfect the fitout of the venue. Either way, Odyssey will stay true to what it is, and always has been.
“We are a restaurant, a craft beer and cider venue and a place for live music, and we’re all of those things in one. It’s all a big balance, it’s not one or the other,” says Grant. “A place that’s working really hard to offer an experience that I think no one else really offers in the region. “
When&Where: Odyessy offers Live Music every week Thursday through to Sunday O’ Suns – Sundays from 1 p.m.
Written by Amanda Sherring