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Comment: Mountain Goat sell out?

Have Mountain Goat really sold out? Or will they be leading the way in a new business model between small craft beer breweries and major global beer brands?

Mountain Goat Brewery in Melbourne, VICIt was announced this week that the owners of Mountain Goat Beer had sold “100%” of the company to the major global beer company, Asahi, but that Cam and Dave, the owners, will be “sticking around” to “ensure that (the) focus remains on the beer”.

The sell-out wasn’t too much of a surprise as there has been a partnership between the two for a number of years now, with Asahi contract brewing a number of the Mountain Goat beers at its Laverton plant.

Is the statement of them “sticking around” just the usual company take over PR speak to smooth the transition with loyal customers and give the impression that nothing is changing. Or is a genuine statement that all will be that same?

Their Facebook statement announcing the sale, made fascinating reading.

The last paragraph of the statement is probably the most interesting. It says that “Mountain Goat will continue to operate as a stand-alone business” Can they really ensure that Asahi stay at arm’s length and have no involvement in which beers are brewed and how the brand is managed when they’ve sold “100%”?

I doubt it, especially as they’ve been in partnership with Asahi “for 3 years” and admit that “with their expert help our beer has grown in demand, (and) expanded nationally”. This indicates that Asahi have been driving the strategic growth of the Mountain Goat brand for some time – even if indirectly.

The recent dropping of the IPA due to insufficient sales for large scale production, and the introduction nationwide of the Pale Ale only previously available at the brewery, with a reduced ABV, is a clear sign that big business is already driving the beer range strategy.

Mountain Goat tap range at the brewery in MelbourneBut is this all really a big issue? Breweries are a business, and a business only exists if it continues to make money – and expand. They, ultimately, aren’t around to purely satisfy the demands of a small number of beer geeks. They are around to make the owners, and/or shareholders a living through making a profit.

Perhaps Cam and Dave came to the view that the only way Mountain Goat could continue was if it was in the hands of a larger company with more resources and greater capacity and ability to expand the business? That and no doubt, Asahi producing a rather larger cheque.

If history is anything to go by, Mountain Goat will soon join the ranks of Matilda Bay and Little Creatures in offering their beers to a wider audience, whilst periodically moving production to suit production volumes and accountants bean counting.

How long before all production shifts to Laverton and the North Street, Richmond site is closed?

Mountain Goat Brewery, Melbourne, VIC