In these days of changing tastes, disposable fads and fleeting fancies, a brewer racking up 15 years of continuous service of craft beer is an effort worth shouting about. Mountain Goat began with a single tap in a single venue pouring their now flagship Hightail Ale back in 1997. They have since carved a deep groove in the hearts of drinkers across the country.
Today there are more than 90 venues pouring Mountain Goat beers with more each week putting their hand up to join that number. That’s a far cry from the early days when co-founders Cam Hines and Dave Bonighton were constantly told that their beer had ‘too much flavour’. Back then the fledgling brewery was kept afloat by persistence, hard work and a coördinated program of visiting the few pubs who gave their beer a go. Says Cam; “Dave and I were the only ones buying our beer for the first 12 months I reckon. Now we’re seeing the beginnings of a craft beer revolution in Australia so we’re very happy we persisted!”
That’s a sentiment echoed by the many members of the ‘Goat Army’ who regularly fill the brewery bar in the back streets of inner suburban Richmond. Nestled in the shadows of a rather large fellow brewer down the road in Abbotsford, the Goat Guys now have the luxury of a multi-pronged business model to keep the business growing. First is the regular range of Hightail and Steam Ale (soon to be joined by the IPA), packaged in smart 330ml bottles and available nationally which are the ‘bread & butter’ beers that keep the till ticking. Their continued popularity allows the crew to make the Rare Breed special releases which form the second tine of the prong.
The Brewery Bar is the third and, arguably, the most important element of the model particularly from a brewing standpoint. Aside from the larger margins possible by selling your beer direct to the punter the key advantage is the ability to engage with your market, test the waters and receive direct and honest feedback. “The value of the bar is almost inestimable’, Cam told Australian Brews News. ‘To be able to get the feedback and find out what the drinkers like, as well as showing them the brewery and really connecting with them is a great advantage to Mountain Goat. My advice to any brewer wanting to set up operations would be, first, make sure you have some sort of retail component.”
And it has been this rare ability to really connect with drinkers and retailers alike that has set Mountain Goat from the pack. A solid team of ‘Road Goats’ visiting venues, training staff and ensuring correct serving procedures have allowed Mountain Goat to spread the good word on their own beers specifically and good craft beer I general. A strong track record of genuinely caring for their staff and the environment with a system of energy and water saving initiatives has further established Mountain Goat as a trusted and consistent brand.
So, 15 years down the track, how do you celebrate? Well, you do it with a beer, of course – but not just any beer. “For our 10th birthday, we brewed a Double Hightail to help us celebrate. It was a stronger, bolder version of Hightail. For our 15th birthday, we’re upping the ante again. A bigger version: Triple Hightail. More malt, more hops, more Hightail,” says co-founder and brewer, Dave Bonighton. At least we have another five years before the 20th Birthday special is unleashed upon us.
To celebrate their 15th birthday, the boys will be taking their beer to the streets, well, to the pubs on the streets, anyway, to share a beer with the loyal folk who have kept Mountain Goat at the top of the craft beer tree. Beginning at The Great Britain Hotel in Richmond where the Hightail Ale got its very first tap 15 years ago, they will visit eight venues taking in six states plus a special tasting with locals at the Goat Island Lodge in the wetlands of the Northern Territory. The host pubs will be hooking up a range of Mountain Goat beers on tap for the night including a special batch of Triple Hightail — brewed especially for the occasion.
Let Cam and Dave buy you a beer at one of the following venues:
Wed 10 Oct — Great Britain Hotel, Richmond, VIC (5:30pm)
Thu 11 Oct — Union Hotel, Newtown, NSW (6pm)
Fri 12 Oct — Bitter Suite, New Farm, QLD (6pm)
Tues 16 Oct — New Sydney Hotel, Hobart, TAS (6pm)
Wed 17 Oct — Pinnacle, North Fitzroy, VIC 6pm)
Thu 18 Oct — Wheatsheaf Hotel, Thebarton, SA (6pm)
Fri 19 Oct — Clancy’s Fish Pub, Fremantle, WA (6pm)
Sat 20 Oct — Goat Island Lodge, NT (5pm)