Some breweries come along and make a significant impact on the Australian craft brewing scene. Little Creatures and Feral spring to mind and, of course, Adelaide’s Pirate Life Brewing. Not just because of their incredible beers but also because of how quickly they’ve made their way across Australia. Five years ago there wasn’t much talk about craft beer from Adelaide, and now Pirate Life is a staple in many craft beer lovers fridge across the country.
While I was in Adelaide recently for the Australian Craft Brewers Conference, I was able to visit Pirate Life in Hindmarsh. Along with good friends and fellow WA beer folk, Paul Wyman – brewer at the newly opened Nowhereman Brewing – and Adrian D’Espeissis from Eagle Bay Brewing, and we were given a tour of Pirate Life by Michael Cameron aka “MC”.
MC also spoke at the SA Brewers Panel on the second day of the conference to discuss how Pirate Life started and their approach to the national beer market.
The brewery is impressive and has been running 24/7 since March 2016, the canning line runs for 16 hours every day. When we visited, there were 24 fermenters, and by the time I hit “publish” on this, they’ll have an additional eight fermenters on site. In twelve months they hope to have their second brewery in Port Adelaide up and running.
When speaking on the SA brewers panel, MC said their plans had always been to take Pirate Life national and to do it quickly. MC, with brewers Jack and Red, launched Pirate Life with more than 270 tastings in their first year. Regularly they’d finish work for the day, throw on their Pirate Life branded shirts and visit three new bars.
Moving fast has perhaps been a defining characteristic of Pirate Life, and that rapid growth led to them outgrowing their own distributor and so they established their own distribution company in July last year called The Pirate Cartel. They are also exporting to the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Singapore.
Back in 2014, they had all their brewing equipment ordered but had yet to secure a place to actually house them. On November 12 they signed a lease, three days later their tanks arrived. It took them 91 days to build the brewery which also included, at Jack and Red’s insistence, $100,000 worth of lab equipment.
First and foremost, MC said, Pirate Life is about making great beer with a focus on quality and freshness.
“Quality and freshness, everyone should be talking about these two words,”
They have seven warehouses across the country, and MC says they are continuously working to improve their systems to keep stock as fresh as possible.
While Pirate Life Brewing continues to grow their brewery, they also keep adding awards to their name, recently winning the Champion IPA trophy at last months Craft Beer Awards for their Mosaic IPA.