By James Atkinson
Fifteen years after its launch, Mountain Goat may be one of craft beer's most attractive takeover prospects, but founders Cam Hines and Dave Bonighton are committed to maintaining their independence.
During a recent national tour to mark the 15-year milestone, Hines and Bonighton told TheShout that Mountain Goat is now growing faster than ever as it benefits from Australian consumers' newfound appetite for craft beer.
"Fifteen years ago we had to sell the concept of craft beer first and then sell the Mountain Goat story, so there were those two hurdles," Bonighton said.
"Now we can just start talking about us straight away, which is good. We've been waiting for this to happen for the last 15 years."
With Lion having recently acquired fellow craft brewer Little Creatures, Hines revealed Mountain Goat had fielded several approaches from potential suitors in recent times.
"[But] we truly didn't start the business to just sell it. We're growing faster than we've ever grown, we're having a good time – why would we jump out now?" he said. [continues below]
Cam Hines and Dave Bonighton (photo courtesy of James Smith from craftypint.com)
Hines said Mountain Goat now has about 120 tap accounts in Melbourne, which is nearly half the brewer's total volume, and the focus is now on expanding its footprint in Sydney and Brisbane.
Bottles are available around the country through Coles and Woolworths liquor stores and the Mountain Goat team are working behind the scenes to encourage trial among local drinkers.
"The chains are getting more interested in carrying at least one of our brands nationally in their more mainstream stores," Hines said.
"But that's a challenge – we don't just expect it to sell, we try and support the opportunity and make it stick," he said.
Alongside its more 'sessionable' Steam Ale (4.5 per cent ABV) and mainstay Hightale Ale, Bonighton said Mountain Goat will continue to make more and more "out there" beers under its Rare Breed label.
"We've got a Black India Pale Ale that is 7.5 per cent and the Triple Hightail Ale is 8.3 per cent," he said.
"We've just brought the India Pale Ale out permanently in 330ml bottles – three years ago the market couldn't quite support a beer like that to be nationally available year-round," added Hines.