From deep-toffee porters to punchy IPAs and crisp wheat ales, craft beer’s diverse range of flavours and aromas is being realised for its full potential, not only by itself but matched with everything from street-style food to fine dining dishes. Move over grapes, it’s time for hops to shine.
Mountain Goat is leading the charge in Melbourne’s craft-beer scene, pushing the industry towards ever more delicious and diverse brews. What started as a passion project in Dave Bonighton and Cam Hines’ backyard in 1997, has now grown to be a recognised industry-leader, producing quality beers that are on taps in restaurants, pubs and clubs around Australia, and more specifically, throughout Melbourne.
Melbourne’s craft-beer culture has been fortunate enough to have passionate advocates in the form of dedicated brewers within the industry, as well as Good Beer Week – an annual event that celebrates the best brews from Australia and further afield.
Uniting foodies, beer lovers and brewers, the festival has not stopped growing since its inception in 2011, offering a range of beer-matched dining experiences, masterclasses in brewing and cooking with beer, and brewery visits.
From the scope of these events, the ‘new’ beer culture has emerged: no longer a macho pub drink, beer is matched with the city’s most exquisite cuisine and appreciated by young and old, male and female alike. New brewers add to the mix each year, with a growing contingent of female brewers establishing a name for themselves in a once male-dominated industry.
With so much change and excitement around beer and brewing, beer fans have never been more engaged. The Mountain Goat brewery in Richmond is one of the city’s favourite spots for a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process. The environmentally conscious brewery sits side-by-side the beer hall, so visitors can watch the brewers at work and enjoy the product of their labour: everything from the crowd favourites to the brewers’ latest experiments is available to try at the bar. It’s this interactivity that pushes Melbourne’s beer culture to ever-greater heights – more interest in beer means more home-brewing, more fledgling breweries and a wider diversity of approaches to brewing.
Considered by many as the ‘granddaddy’ of Melbourne craft breweries, Mountain Goat seems to grow better with age, continuing to produce brews that test the limits and challenge palates, with delectable results. Its popular foundation range – including Hightail Ale, Pale Ale and organic Steam Ale – has allowed the Mountain Goat brewers to experiment with seasonal brews, quirky flavours and limited-edition batches. Just as wine showcases terroir, seasonality, yeast and the character of the barrels, beer plays with a wide range of hops, malt roasts, yeasts and brewing methods to produce intriguing flavours and aromas.
If you’re curious about Mountain Goat’s name, Dave and Cam named it after a big hairy animal that will never fall over. The name has come to symbolise the brewery’s strength – make a tasty brew and beer drinkers will vote with their pint glasses. It’s a success story that is representative of the industry: from humble beginnings, the beer culture has grown to celebrate diversity, experimentation, and of course, the never ending pursuit of a delicious brew.