The Good Beer Co.

The social enterprise making
boozing a charitable act

It does not get more Australian than inviting people to save the Great Barrier Reef by drinking beer. Brisbane-based James Grugeon is planning to turn everyday Aussies into environmental heroes with his new social enterprise The Good Beer Co.

The craft beer company is aiming to brew 10 different strains of beer over 10 years, raising money for 10 different Australian charities.

It has launched a crowdfunding campaign for the production of its first drop, Great Barrier Beer, with at least 50 per cent of the profits to be directed to the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

"The reef is so important for Australia and Queensland in terms of not just it being this iconic, beautiful natural resource, but also from a tourism point of view and for the economy," Mr Grugeon told the ABC. “This is an issue which with resonate with people and was important.

He said the Australian Marine Conservation Society was a small team of people who really punched above their weight.

"It's a big step for them to take as a charity, to get behind a beer.But I think it’s a really bold step that will hopefully not just be good for them and the work they do to protect the reef, but help get the message out to an audience they may not already be reaching."

Mr Grugeon, who has a background in corporate social responsibility and environmental charities, said to classify as a social enterprise at least 50 per cent of the company’s profits must go to charity.

The 'at least 50 per cent’ is an important distinction in terms of our ability to have the right to call ourselves a social enterprise,” he said.

“I‘ve been inspired by the Who Gives a Crap toilet people and they take the same approach.”

Ditching big brands for environmentally sustainable crafts

Mr Grugeon said Australians were increasingly making the switch from big beer brands including XXXX and VB to craft beer.

"They enjoy the taste of it and the story behind it — the authenticity that it is often located in their local community, they might know the people brewing it. Those brewers probably work with local farmers and suppliers and in many cases brewing beer in an environmentally responsible way. The hipsters get into our beers and I want them to, [but] I also want the beers to be as accessible as possible to all people."

Mr Grugeon said those who contribute would have the opportunity to be the first to enjoy the brews and have a say in future recipes, labels and causes.

A crowd of 250 people recently gathered in Brisbane at music venue The Triffid — whose founder, former Powderfinger member John Collins, has backed the cause — to vote on the recipe for Great Barrier Beer.

The deciding vote was for an Indian Pale Ale — mid-strength and "easy to drink“, according to Mr Grugeon.

The Good Beer Co has partnered with the Bargara Crewing Company for the first brew.

They are located at the gateway to the reef … they're a fantastic organisation that is going above and beyond in terms of environmental sustainability," Mr Grugeon said.

Great Barrier Reef is at a tipping point

The Good Beer Co is yet to partner with other charities but Mr Grugeon said discussions had begun with several organisations.

Other than their organisation structure and ability to demonstrate impact and alignment with our values … we’d be looking for organisation we can have a really good impact,” he said.

Australian Marine Conservation Society chief executive Darren Kindleysides said the organisation was thrilled to be a founding partner.

As a passionate environmentalist and a craft beer fan myself, this is an exciting venture,” he said.

"It's such a refreshingly innovative way to raise much-needed awareness and funds for the protection of our reef. Our iconic Great Barrier Reef is at a tipping point, having lost about half of its coral cover in the past 30 years. Unless we take action now to protect it, the outlook for this natural wonder of the world looks bleak. However, by helping to crowd-fund Great Barrier Beer, Australians will be helping to reverse damage to the Reef and protect it for future generations."

The above article by Kellie Scott first published on in Dec, 2015.