adventures in craft beer in Perth and beyond

A Pirate’s Life for Red

Pirate Life Brewing started as an idea between two friends in WA, travelling across the Nullabor and passing gorgeous beaches via dusty roads and travel size BBQs, to come to life in SA where on March 1 the doors opened on a new brewery.

Check out their travel video here

The friends and brewers behind Pirate Life Brewing are Jared “Red” Proudfoot and Jack Cameron. The two brewed together in Scotland at BrewDog before each returning to WA. Red took up a position at Cheeky Monkey in Margaret River and Jack went to Little Creatures in Fremantle. Fast forward 18 or so months and Red and Jack alongside Michael, Jack’s father, have established their own brewery in Hindmarsh, Adelaide.

Living and brewing by Pirate-like ideals, aside from plundering and pillaging of course, Red and Jack have three core beers – Pale Ale, Throwback IPA (session IPA) and a double IPA – which will all be available in cans and kegs. In fact, Pirate Life Brewing are just weeks away from sending beer to WA with plans for Victoria soon to follow.

Recently Red answered a few questions so read on below for more details on the brewery, beers, social media and inspiration …
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Jared Proudfoot

Red at the 2013 South West Collaboration Brew Day at Eagle Bay Brewing

How long had Jack and yourself been planning Pirate Life? Do you rememeber when you first thought “I want to open a brewery with this guy?!”

It probably harks back to our mid-BrewDog days when we realised we were both on similar tracks in the brewing world, both (quite coincidently) from WA and enjoyed brewing together. MC (Jack Cameron’s old man) would have just arrived in to Aberdeen and coordinating the build of the 1st BrewDog bar as well so it was a pretty good time for us and probably all stemmed from there. We both came back from Scotland around the same time and both needing jobs found ourselves gaining different skills and experiences at our respective employments but always knowing that we’d be opening a brewery together. After being back for around 18 months we really started seriously looking at getting something going, with limited resources and opportunities it was looking fairly grim, however, a unique opportunity presented itself in The Barossa Valley, SA. Which didn’t work out, I’m afraid, but it did get the ball rolling.

What do guys have in common?

BREWING! A love of good beer, food, wine, camping or travel and taking time out to enjoy these things. Not taking the world (nor the brewing world [or ourselves]) too seriously, sport viewing, some participation and healthy ‘get on with it, get it done’ work ethic.

When you talk about inspiration on your website, who comes to mind and why?

It could be anyone really. I love to cook (when time permits, not often nowadays) so following The Food Lab blog or watching The Cook and The Chef, Great British Menu or seeing how Heston goes about things and seeing if/how I can somehow relate that back to beer is pretty fun and food science is quite interesting. James and Martin [BrewDog] are obviously up there and I keep a close eye on what’s going on back in Scotland. There are a couple of brewers in Australia, a few in America and one Belgium that I keep an eye on as well. There’s always improvements to be had around a brewery so always looking at the way mechanics or engineers or plumbers get things done and always looking for continual improvement is pretty important. Work smart not hard, although, sometimes the smart way to work is hard.

You say on your website that Adelaide is “heaps good”, what first drew you to the city?

It was almost by chance. An opportunity landed at our feet to look at leasing a brewery in The Barossa, which didn’t come to fruition, however, during our several reconnaissance trips to SA we realised Adelaide was the place we wanted set up camp. It is such a good little city, which is sad I guess as it cops a bit of flack from around Australia for being boring, I can assure you that this city is far from boring. We’ve just gone through the Fringe Festival period and there is such a massive buzz about the place.

What’s unique about Adelaide’s craft beer scene compared to the rest of the country?

South Australians know good product. Whether that be food, wine or beer – if you’re not up to scratch you’ll get found out pretty quickly. Before I arrived here I would have said that the craft beer scene was pretty juvenile but being here now for a few months and visiting around the place I now know that’s not the case! There are some very good small operators scattered around the place pumping out some decent beer, we’re just glad to have been welcomed so openly by the other brewers and we’re keen join ranks and help represent SA beer nationally.

What learnings did you take from your time as head brewer at Cheeky Monkey that were valuable for opening Pirate Life?

Firstly being involved with a startup and the Cheeky Monkey build helped a fair bit with more of the project management side of our install, it was also pretty handy to brew beers and see the immediate response that having a front of house allows. It also helped clarify my vision about how I wanted to go about making beer i.e. having a production brewery where the key focus is to pump out a whole heap of good beer. The beers that you have to brew to cast a net and have punters come to your venue to make up the main percentage of your revenue are different to what we’re able to produce as a nationally distributed production brewery. Essentially we’re able to dial the beers up a notch or two and sell what we want to drink as opposed to what puts bums on seats and kids in a playground.

You’re putting your beers into cans, what is the attitude to cans in SA?

So far (only having cans in the market for one week) it has been really great. South Aussies are pretty clue-y when it comes to food and drink and can understand that when we say the reason we put beer in can is purely because it’s better for the beer. Whatever is the best for the beer we will ensure to do our best we can to implement that.

Why did you pick a Pale, IPA and IIPA?

Well we have a baby ‘Session IPA’ at 3.5% called Throwback IPA our West Coast Pale and the big boy IIPA. We like flavourful, and admittedly, hop forward beer so to kick off with these as our initial core range seemed an appropriate way to go about things. We’ve always had 5 beers planned for our ultimate core range but thought it important to launch with only three of them.

Our philosophy is that our core range is always available in both keg or can.

We (fermentation capacity permitting) have planned for a more malt forward beer which might be released around Good Beer Week and a 5th later in the year. They are secret though so I can’t tell.

Are there plans for limited release beers and if so, can you give any hints on what you might do?

Being former BrewDog boys having a bunch of single batch beers is pretty important to us. We’d get bored otherwise. We very deliberately purchased 2x single brew length tanks and 4x double tanks for our starting CCVs. The two smaller ones will be dedicated to big beers and our single batch beers so we will be able to churn out 12+ specials a year. Our specials will be available in keg and 650ml bottle.

Your website is beautifully written, like reading something your best mate wrote, so I have to ask, who’s writing it?

Ha! There’s a bit of a mix there. I’m generally responsible for most of the content at the moment, however, we have a pretty fantastic marketing chick, Lauren, on board (who’s based in Melbourne but originally from Adelaide). So generally she will ask for content, I’ll write it up (when I’m in the mood) and bounce it back to Jack, MC, Lauren and her sister, who’s a copywriter, for their perusal and final touches. I’m quite proud of what we’ve been able to achieve together – this extends to all of our marketing and design.

Pirate Life has been pretty active on social media long before you opened, how important do you think social media is to a new brewery?

Pirate Life on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Vitally important. It’s also massively important how you go about it. There are multiple platforms, each of which require their own unique content. Jack has taken lead on the social media side of things and does a bloody good job of it. Lauren and I keep an eye on things and will post stuff or edit posts if it needs it. Social media is also two-way traffic so we probably have to improve our engagement little bit so hopefully when things settle in to a more of a routine we can identify these areas and give more back to the punter. You’ve no idea how full on the last few months have been! Throughout our many launches we’ve had here in SA we’ve had a lot of people say that they’ve been following us from early days and have really enjoyed seeing things unfold which has been really nice. We’ve been on a pretty full-on journey and it’s been nice to be able to share that anyone who’s been interested in joining us.

What will be the three biggest trends in craft beer in Australia?

No1. by a long way is cans. 2nd would have to be a move away from the bigger hop bombs to smaller and more sessional beers. 3rd will see an increase in sour offerings, whether they be a delightful little Berliner Weisse or a full blown pseudo-lambic.

Do you have plans to send beer to WA?

Yep. WA will be an important market for us. We’re launching in to WA for early/mid April and then in to Victoria early May. Once we’re comfortable with production in those markets we will roll out the rest of Australia. We will be having a big launch in the city and a series of smaller launches around the metro area and one or two down south so I can see my dog. And family and friends.

Thank you Red! Can’t wait to see Pirate Life in WA!

Read More: Crafty Pint – The Year of the Pirate

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