When a good beer does you good

Mick Jontef and David Neitz

Mick Jontef and David Neitz

I guess I can justify this article by reminding my tax accountant that I list my occupation as ‘Beer Advocate’ and, therefore, I am duty-bound to promote beer whenever it is seen to be a part of a broader good in the community.

In my previous article I suggested that breweries who intend to survive any contraction of the market in coming years must have more to their portfolio than just good – or cheap – beer. They must have that certain ‘something’ that makes a prospective purchaser more likely to select them above similar others.

One such brewer is surely Brewmanity, a team effort making a genuine difference to the lives of those less fortunate, led by former AFL champion David Neitz, Melbourne hospitality stalwart Barney Mathews and the man who has had his fingers in nearly every beer to come from CUB since the decimal system was introduced, Mick Jontef.

The premise of Brewmanity is pretty simple; “Every beer does a little good”, which is manifest in the profit sharing of each of the beers produced. The mainstay brew, Brewmanity 141 Pale Ale, is an all-round smashing interpretation of an Australian pale and has raised plenty for Cure MND Foundation. Their first special brew is The Beast Tamer, brewed at Balter with specialty malt supplied by Voyager Craft Malting from grain donated by neighbouring farmer, Max Jamieson, who lost his wife to MND.

The Beast Tamer is a 6.9% boldly-flavoured but not aggressively bitter ale which was launched at a sold-out event for Good Beer Week. The last two kegs were tapped over the long weekend at Beer Deluxe in Federation Square, Melbourne to link with the Melbourne Demons AFL football club pre-match function held in the square.

‘Walk With Neale’ saw tens of thousands of footy fans gather in Fed Square to listen to former stars of the game speak of their love and admiration for former coach, Neale Daniher, who is fighting ‘The Beast’ that is Motor Neurone Disease. Brewmanity’s David Neitz addressed the crowd after finding time to speak to every TV, radio and press journalist present (between posing for every fan’s photo request) and in each, he casually made mention of the Brewmanity project and the beers they brewed. And here’s where the good feelings come in.

Here was beer – a good and well-designed beer – spoken of in the midst of a mass of community support for a cause and a joyous celebration of sport and club loyalty and it was engendering sincere interest. It wasn’t about how ‘crisp and refreshing’ it was or the fact that it was selling for ‘$80 for two slabs!!’ but that it was a significant part of something genuinely good.

Demons fans ‘Walk With Neale’ to the MCG

The media was keen to know more about Brewmanity, the fans were keen to know where they could find the beer and even the bar staff were wanting to more from the brewer and when the next beer was due. Beer was literally sharing centre stage with a gathering of the broadest demographic whose only commonality was their support for AFL. Like Cavalier Courage before it, beer was not ‘the enemy’ but somehow a natural element of a healthy and vibrant community.

At the end of the presentations the crowd, led by Neale Daniher and Dr Ian Davis of Cure MND Foundation, headed off towards the iconic MCG in a trail taking more than an hour to reach it’s destination. One can only hope that one day in the future the beer awaiting them in the general public bars will be more satisfying than the mid-strength lager served in big plastic cups today.

As for Neitz? He missed the start of the walk to finish his pot of Beast Tamer. Can’t really fault him for that dedication on this occasion.

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