Mountain Goat started out back in 1997 when two mates decided they wanted better tasting beers and were determined to do something about it.
Dave had studied overseas in the US and spent some time in Europe. After so many years of great beer, he was really disappointed at only having bland, fizzy lagers here in Australia and took up home brewing in his backyard.
Cam was a music booking agent who had taken some time off to backpack the world. A mate in Vancouver took him around the local microbreweries and Cam, who confesses to not really liking beer beforehand, found himself suddenly enjoying amazing beers full of flavour. Thinking immediately of Dave’s home brewing, he famously sent Dave a postcard with the message ‘We’ve gotta talk… let’s open a brewery’.
Mountain Goat beer started to be brewed under Dave’s careful watch in the basement of the Scottish Chiefs Hotel in Geelong and then Grand Ridge Brewery (where Dave later took on the Head Brewer role, as well as doing our Goat beers). The first keg of our Hightail Ale, an English style amber ale, was tapped at the Great Britain Hotel in Richmond. Dave and Cam admit that, for the first few months, the biggest customers were themselves buying rounds for their mates to make sure the keg got drunk. Eventually, folks they didn’t know were also buying Mountain Goat beer and other venues were keen to start stocking our beers.
The guys were very dedicated to making this work. Dave was staying near Grand Ridge Brewery in the old disused Mirboo North Town Hall, sleeping on the stage and driving back on weekends to visit his wife. Cam would drive his old Falcon wagon down the freeway each week, jam pack it with kegs and cases and drive the two hours back to a tiny office space to hand label every bottle. This happened for two years until they were able to find our own brewery space.
Cam and Dave knew they were on to something, but had no money to build a brewery. The two young, overly ambitious guys approached every bank possible with equity of three surfboards, two mountain bikes and Dave’s EH Holden, which was apparently not enough security for a loan. Proving themselves to be pioneers of not only craft beer but also crowdfunding, they rallied the support of family, friends and, eventually, a bank manager who caved in to their persistent visits.
The required funds were gained and Mountain Goat brewery was finally realised in 1999 in a warehouse in Crown Street in Richmond. To help pay the bills, the guys opened up our brewery bar once a month and, soon enough, hundreds of people were lining up to come in.
A Melbourne legend was born.