Better brewers

Green Lifestyle magazine

Melbourne company Mountain Goat Brewery are proving that doing things green and local is no barrier to success - even in the ultra-competitive boutique beer market.

Mountain Goat

Dave and Cam outside of their brewery in Melbourne, a far stretch from the backyard they started in.

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Fifteen years ago, as many Aussie fellas talk about doing, Dave Benighton and Cam Hines started a micro-brewery business in Dave’s backyard. No backyard failure tales to be found here though, as the boys went from strength to strength, culminating in the creation of their 100 per cent certified organic Steam Ale – the first certified organic beer in Australia.

Mountain Goat Brewery moved into their current premises in Richmond in 2004 - and there laid the opportunity to create a set-up based on sustainable operating methods, starting with Cam’s passion for repurposing old materials. “When we moved into the warehouse I started looking around for furnishings. We took old tanning barrels from the factory over the road that was closing down and made them into three beautiful big tables, we got a cool-room from a backpackers and even a classic old urinal from an industrial place.”

Rainwater tanks were fitted, while solar panels installed on the roof pre-heat the water used in brewing their tasty ales and stouts. More recently they’ve plugged in a new gas-fired brew house further reducing their dependence on mains power. Along with minimising Mountain Goat Brewery’s carbon footprint, these measures save the company significant amounts of money every time they brew.

One of the company’s most popular initiatives is their push for pedal power. Along with a wall set up for punters to hang their bikes on, employees are paid an annual bonus based on how many times they ride to work. “Seventy per cent of our staff get a cheque at the end of the year for commuting to work sustainably. One guy even moved into a place just down the road so he gets paid to walk 100 m each day to work!”

Accompanying their employee-friendly approach is a strong connection to local community. “Ninety per cent of our beers are sold here in Melbourne. We like the idea of being a local company selling local produce. When we open up as a bar and pizzeria on Wednesday and Friday nights it’s a real buzz to see the locals come through. Mums with toddlers, business people, hip younger people, it’s great to feel we’re a genuine part of the local community.”

Mountain Goat Brewery take their approach to green values step-by-step. “It’s part of our identity you know, so we just do it, and it feels like the right way to do it,” says Cam. “We’re not in a position where we can spend a lot of money on being green but it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. If you just do a lot of little things then they add up and it makes a real difference.”