Comment – Mountain Goat Still Going Strong Despite Asahi Buyout
- Tuesday, 28 June 2016
About nine months ago, the giant multinational brewery Asahi bought a 100% share of Melbourne based Mountain Goat. At the time, many cried foul. How dare a large (and mostly lager making) brewery buy out an excellent example of Australian craft beer becoming a dominant market force.
What most failed to mention at the time was that Asahi had been involved with Mountain Goat prior to this. The buyout was simply sinking more money into the company and buying control of it. The owners became either very wealthy, Managing Directors (or similar), or both. As with our comment on the Panhead buyout by Lion, we here at Brew in Review didn’t see this as the terrible craft beer destroying news that many people saw it as.
Yes, it’s always a little disappointing seeing an independent of any industry no longer being independent. It’s nice to see the little guy fight the big guy. Even if the little guy never wins, we, as consumers (and beer drinkers), like to be able to easily trace a business up to the owner rather than some faceless board or a group of investors. Whether that be our beer, our beard oil, our produce, or our clothing. It’s nice to be able to connect what we consume with actual people. Other than craft and micro brewed beers generally tasting better than their macro brewed counter parts, the passion and personalisation that goes into craft brewing can’t be matched by the bigger companies.
Basically, no one ever says “Hey, I ran into brewer from Carlton at the pub last night, he was a real top bloke.” On the other hand, when talking about the Exit Brewing IPA for their Beer of the Month profile, we remarked on Frase and Grum as just generally being all around nice guys. We lose this when a business gets too big.
At the core of it, this is why people complain when a large company buys a smaller company. They fear the death of the personal touch.
While what we’ve seen since Asahi’s involvement with Mountain Goat hasn’t been the complete opposite, we’re still seeing a great brewery continue to make great beer.
Let’s face it, Mountain Goat has long surpassed being a small brewery. Unlike some of our Melbourne favourites like Exit, Kaiju, or Dainton where you’ll still see the brewer and owner at the booth for a festival, Mountain Goat has lacked that for a long time. Yes, they have passionate and personal reps, but no, it’s not a little operation anymore.
Since Asahi has gotten involved (and they’ve been involved for awhile), Mountain Goat has managed to expand their core range up to five beers and start canning, all while continuing to put out their ever popular Rare Breeds. They wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the demand of (let alone expand) their core range without the use of Asahi facilities.
To really make our point obvious: Asahi has given Mountain Goat the ability to concentrate on what they do best, which is come up with new and interesting beers in their Rare Breed series, by leaving the tanks free in their Richmond factory while Asahi produces the main money makers. Those money makers being the core range of beers (starting with Hightail Ale and Steam Ale) that beer drinkers can get almost anywhere in Australia.
And we’re still seeing new and interesting Rare Breeds coming out. In the last six months we’ve seen a Sorachi based IPA (as an homage to their Japanese owners), a barley wine, and a rum porter. Great, interesting, and fun beers that even the biggest beer wanker can enjoy and argue with their friends over.
So as long as Mountain Goat continues to to make their Rare Breeds, all power to them. Thanks to Asahi, it’s easy enough to get a Hightail Ale at almost any pub in Australia (which is better than having to do with Fat Yak) and craft beer drinkers can still get something new and different from a great brewer when they’re at their favourite craft beer bar.
Really, what’s the problem?