Interview with Brewgooder's Alan Mahon
Brewgooder was launched with the mission to bring a million people clean water. Before a weekend of events around the world for Brewgooder’s Global Gathering on March 20-22, we speak to founder Alan Mahon about the very personal story behind starting the foundation and how it is transforming lives in Malawi right now.
Why did you decide to start a foundation around clean water?
Back in 2012, when I was 22, I got ill from a parasite drinking contaminated water in Nepal. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t life-threatening. But it brought something to my attention that I’d never considered before. I wondered what it would be like to grow up without something that I have taken for granted.
I tried to get into loads of jobs in the water sector and got rejected from every single one of them. Then I got a job at a cafe in Edinburgh, and it was a social enterprise. When I got my first paycheck, I realised I started spending my money on two things: good coffee and good beer. I began drinking cans of Cloudwater and Fourpure, and I realised there was something special in that.
All my friends were super passionate about craft beer too – it was a topic of conversation, and I thought I could get into this industry; I loved the products that were being made. But if I were to give my career to something, I wanted to tick a box that was having an impact in the world in a positive way. Perhaps I could combine the two.
Where did you start?
I brewed 1,000 bottles of Clean Water Lager version one, for a little stall at the Edinburgh Festival and about 300 of them exploded in my living room because they weren’t brewed and conditioned correctly, they also tasted like shit. That wasn’t ideal. So I said if we’re going to do it then let’s brew it properly.
I asked the guys at BrewDog: “If we brewed your beers up there and took it off our hands on the production line, could we then sell that and use the profits for clean water drinking projects?” And they said yes.
About four months later, we launched Brewgooder with the mission to bring a million people clean water. For nearly three years, we focussed on what we were as a brand, and then we started collaborating with brewers on a small basis, and Fourpure was included on that.
Where does the money go and which projects have resonated with you most?
To date, we’ve co-funded or fully funded 133 projects. The first-ever project we did, we built a solar-powered gravity-fed system for a village. We returned within a year and saw the community transformed in essence. There were school feeding programmes, a mother and baby clinic that needed running water to be built. We’ve just finished our third project in that village, and it feeds cabbage patches and vegetable gardens. It’s part of a wider betterment of that community.
From a personal perspective, we were in a village called Pindani drilling a borehole. An old guy came up to us in his Sunday best, he couldn’t speak English, and he just said ‘thank you’. I was really overwhelmed. He had lived all his life in that area, and he had never known that level of water access. But somebody born from that day after would never need to know that. It was a real transition point.
In collaboration with Brewgooder we are hosting a massive Tap Takeover to promote its Global Gathering campaign at Fourpure Basecamp as part of World Water Weekend. Twenty-one breweries will be bringing a keg of beer brewed especially for the event, and once it’s gone it’s gone!
All proceeds will go towards Global Gathering and the work they are doing in Malawi. The ticket, available here, will get you a free can of our Micro IPA, Rift Valley, along with some little goodies. We’ll also have raffles throughout the day where you could win some items from the various breweries participating.
As part of the Global Gathering, Fourpure has brewed Rift Valley a 2.8% Micro IPA. The profits from the beer will go to the Brewgooder Foundation. It is released at the Global Gathering on March 21 at our Basecamp Taproom, Bermondsey, London.