“I can’t work out if it’s brilliant or dumb,” said Cam, when he first told The Crafty Pint about the pinnacle of Mountain Goat’s 15th birthday celebration plans. The answer, of course, was that it was both and thus better than brilliant and dumber than dumb.
And what, exactly, is “it”?
Well, “it” involves a crocodile-infested river, a boat or a helicopter (or both), dinner in a bistro with a menu boasting that its food is “NOT THE BEST, BUT GOOD ENOUGH”, the pouring of a new, high alcohol, intensely flavoured beer for drinkers who live and breathe XXXX Gold, and a host who goes by the name Happy.
“For our tenth year, we went to all the obvious places,” says brewery co-founder Cam Hines (pictured above left in a screenshot from a film shot in the brewery’s very early days). “So this time we wanted to add somewhere quirky and fun. I researched on the internet, trying to find remote outback bars and then looking at how to get to them. There were some that sounded great, but they were so far away from anywhere.
“Then one Saturday morning, I was searching for Australia’s smallest bar and Goat Island Lodge came up, so I just called up the owner and got talking to him.”
For the uninitiated, which presumably is all of you, Goat Island Lodge is a remote resort a couple of hours from Darwin’s airport. You might think: “A couple of hours – that’s not remote.” But those two hours require visitors to make their way by road to the Adelaide River and commandeer a boat to make it to the island. Or hire a chopper. And, if you choose to travel by boat, you need to be aware that the Adelaide River is full of crocs.
As Cam says: “There’s no good strategic reason to go, other than to have fun and try and interesting experiment – the ultimate craft beer challenge.”
For their tenth birthday celebrations they toured many of the country’s top beer bars pouring the first ever batch of Double Hightail. This time they’ll be doing the same, except with a yet-to-be-brewed Triple Hightail, more venues across Australia, and with the “ultimate craft beer challenge” being to see how Happy’s friends – presumably all traveling in by boat – take to an evening of Rare Breeds. Given the logistics, even getting the beers there will be a challenge in itself.
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