Pirate Life in WA

Pirate Life Brewing, newly opened in Adelaide, are launching their beers around WA over the next few days and last night I got to try their beers. (Spoiler: I freakin’ loved them!)

If you’re expecting a step-by-step guide on how to be a pirate in WA, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong blog. If you are curious about who Pirate Life Brewing are and what beers they have then hopefully I can be of some assistance.

Who are Pirate Life? Brewers – Jack Cameron, Jared “Red” Proudfoot and CEO Michael Cameron

Last night I was amongst 60ish people invited to The Standard in Northbridge to enjoy Pirate Life beers. The brewery opened a few months ago in Adelaide and are now launching their beers into WA and they’re doing a thorough job of it with not one, not two but a handful of launch events scheduled around the state of the coming days.

Pirate Life was started by a couple of ex-WA brewers Jared, aka “Red”, and Jack who have career paths that would make many beer geeks drool; alongside them is Jack’s father Michael who is Pirate Life’s CEO. The beers are being distributed by Palais Imports and their WA rep, Brad Moss, told me that the reception to these beers has far exceeded expectations with bars like Mechanics Institute and Lucky Chan’s, which doesn’t open until next week, already snapping them up.

Read: The Year of the Pirate – Crafty Pint

Last night’s launch at The Standard was the first of a run of launch events. Thursday night they will be at Distribution Lane in Fremantle and Friday night at Mrs Browns and Old Bridge Cellars in North Fremantle. On Saturday they’ll be doing a tasting at the Cellarbrations Super Store in Hamilton Hill. For those in the south west, they will also have a launch at The Firestation in Busselton on Wednesday 15 April – see their Facebook page for more information. Back in Perth they will be doing a bar shout at The Mechanic’s Institute (Perth, CBD) on Thursday 16 April with one beer on tap and the other two available in all their tinned glory.

Read: A Pirate’s Life for Red – my interview with brewer/co-founder Jared “Red” Proudfoot

On show were the breweries first three beers – Throwback IPA, Pale Ale and IIPA.

The Throwback IPA, a session IPA at a mere 3.5% ABV, is striking in it’s 70s design can. A funny mix of beige and faded orange that screams grandma’s house and yet is freaking fantastic. This look is no accident either as I got to find out from Michael who, along with Jack, were at the launch. The 70s style pattern and the beer’s name, “throwback”, were very much deliberate, a salute to an old brand that I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with and I appear to have forgotten the name. But back to the beer itself, I got fresh peach and citrus from the nose of the Throwback IPA and the follow through with bright tropical fruit, citrus and a full body to make this one of my favourite lower ABV beers kicking around.

Pirate Life Throwback IPA

The Pale Ale comes in a blue can that understates the fact it’s a pale ale, leaving the brand of Pirate Life to carry the torch for this beer. Again, a very purposeful move by the guys that Michael said was something Red was pretty keen for, putting more emphasis on the brewery than the style. Sticking my nose in I got a huge waft of passionfruit, it’s all about passionfruit and lime and grapefruit citrus notes on this one. Super fresh and super great, it’s another home run.

Then there’s the IIPA, the beer that seemed to get the most people talking, not because it was so super-dooper extreme or because it pushed any kind of boundaries in terms of how it was brewed or what ingredients they used. The talk was all around the simple agreed opinion that this is a sensational beer. Gentle chewy caramel supports the huge grapefruit and resiny hops that combine wonderfully, the balance is dead on, the hops shine and malt takes a bow behind them. The IIPA comes in a 500ml can and when Jack was asked why he simply replied, “it’s a big beer, it’s needs a big can” and quite frankly I can’t think of any better reason. Bring on the IIPA big cans!

Pirate Life launch at The Standard

One word on the design of all the cans themselves – exceptional. The design puts Pirate Life front and centre of the can, clutter free and you can see this will quickly become one of the more easily recognisable logos in the beer fridge. The top of the can, just under the rim, has the beer recipe on it from malt bill to hops used to when its boiled and when you recycle the empty can. Rather than tell you what you’re going to taste, they tell you how they made it and take transparency to a whole new level. Michael talks about transparency as one of the qualities of a genuine craft brewery and I think he’s right.

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I could rattle on all night about what a great time I had at the launch, much like a giggle school girl who has just been asked on a date by the most popular boy in school, I’m head over heels for Pirate Life. So far, for me, they’ve ticked all the boxes – gorgeous beers, genuine people, spot on branding and packaging and a passion for being a part of the industry and brewing great beer. I really can’t wait to see more of these guys around.

Thank you to Palais Imports (distributing Pirate Life) and Pirate Life for inviting me along and it was great to meet Jack and Michael!

A Pirate’s Life for Red

Adelaide’s newest brewery, Pirate Life Brewing, opened its doors earlier this month with two WA mates at the helm – Red and Jack. Check out my interview with Red here …

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

Seven Brewers Brewing

Breweries from the south west unite for this once off collaboration beer …

L-R: Justin Fox, Sorcha Gillen, Jeremy Good, Alex Poulsen, Jared Proudfoot, Nick d'Espeissis and Shannon Grigg Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver
L-R: Justin Fox, Sorcha Gillen, Jeremy Good, Alex Poulsen, Jared Proudfoot, Nick d’Espeissis and Shannon Grigg
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver

I recently was lucky enough to be invited along to a collaboration brew day and I know it feels like there’s a new collab every second day but I still love ’em. Perhaps it’s because I’ve yet to come across one that wasn’t a genuinely good beer or perhaps it’s because I just love the idea of brewers getting together to do the thing they love. If you’re super keen you can read more about my love for collaborations here.

This particular collaboration is extra special because it was brewers from the south west coming together under one roof, in one brewhouse and with multiple pints. Despite the fact their breweries are all roughly within an hours drive of each other this collaboration is a first for the region, as far as I am aware anyway. The collaboration included Colonial Brewing, Bootleg Brewing, Eagle Bay Brewing, Cowaramup Brewing, Duckstein Brewing and Cheeky Monkey Brewing and the brew day was done at Eagle Bay. For a full run down check out my article for Crafty Pint here.

The beer will make it’s debut at South West in the City, a Five Bar event where the brewers will also be there to engage in all sorts of beer-geek talk or just say g’day. Each brewery will also bring along one of their own beers so there’s plenty south west goodness available; apologies if that sounded a little dirty. The event will be held on Sunday 27th October, two weeks before WA Beer Week kicks off – think of it as a good warm up exercise!

Anyway, I just wanted to share a few photos I took on the day and some of the more memorable quotes and moments that put a smile on my face …

“Are we putting more hops in this or are we making Swan Draught?”

“I only put honey on my toast or in my Lemsip”

“I want to be in Victoria’s Secret”

“This is the Rolls Royce of brewery drainage”

Nick (Eagle Bay), Jeremy (Cowaramup) and Red (Cheeky Monkey) looking down at a drain, talking about brewery drainage
Nick (Eagle Bay), Jeremy (Cowaramup) and Red (Cheeky Monkey) looking down at a drain, talking about brewery drainage
Cowaramup's Jeremy Good adding some malt
Cowaramup’s Jeremy Good adding some malt
Colonial's Sorcha throws in a bag of malt and shows off her Freo jumper
Colonial’s Sorcha throws in a bag of malt and shows off her Freo jumper
I'm only just the right level of qualified to do this - cleaning out the mash tun
I’m only just the right level of qualified to do this – cleaning out the mash tun
Potential name for the beer is The Council Worker - this photo may explain why
Potential name for the beer is The Council Worker – this photo may explain why
Jared (Cheeky Monkey) and I throwing in handfuls of hops over seven minutes
Jared (Cheeky Monkey) and I throwing in handfuls of hops
Justin (Colonial), Jeremy (Cowaramup) and Nick (Eagle Bay) weighing out hops
Justin (Colonial), Jeremy (Cowaramup) and Nick (Eagle Bay) weighing out hops
Stop! Hop time!
Stop! Hop time!
When asked to make a funny face, this is the resulting photo Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver
When asked to make a funny face, this is the resulting photo
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver

girl + crafty pint

Does one article allow me to call myself a “writer”? I ask because my first article was published on The Crafty Pint recently and I’m keen to re-label myself as a “writer” rather than “alcoholic blogger”; it just rolls off the tongue easier.

Does one article allow me to call myself a “writer”? I ask because my first article was published on The Crafty Pint recently and I’m keen to re-label myself as a “writer” rather than “alcoholic blogger”; it just rolls off the tongue easier.

The Crafty Pint is one of the best beery sources for news and updates on what’s happening in the Australian Craft Beer scene. Basically if you love the craft beer being made around the country then you should have this bookmarked, and don’t forget to follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook – seriously, do it now. It’s good for you. And they were good enough to ask me to write an article which makes me like them even more!

My article is about Cheeky Monkey, the newest brewery to call Margaret River home, and I was lucky enough to be able to have a chat and a beer with Jared (aka “Red”) who is their Head Brewer. I think I can get on board this being-a-writer business; I just might need to learn some bigger words.

Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – chatting with brewers is always delightful. I bombarded poor Red with question after question and thankfully he’s a patient man and I quickly realised I could have done a separate article purely on Red.

He came into brewing through the simple desire to do so. Once upon a time he worked as a contractor for Western Power and spend his days looking up, staring at power poles before he kinda thought something else might take his fancy. He discovered Brewdog, boundary pushing Scottish brewers, loved their beers and got on the website. It just so happened they were looking for brewers so he applied. Part of the application process involved listing some favourite beers and a few more steps later, Red found himself finishing up his job and jumping on a plane within 24 hours of each other. There isn’t much I don’t love about his story of becoming a brewer.

Fast forward 18 months and Red had gone from novice to senior brewer at Brewdog and back in his home town, Margaret River, he got word of a new brewery opening up. He seems completely at home in his first Head Brewer position, passionate and all about the beer, he is making tweaks and adjustments to his regular beer line up so that he’s 100% happy. Funnily enough the Cheeky Monkey beer I enjoyed the most. the Traveling Monk mid-strength Red Ale was, at time of our chat, the one he was most wanting to play with and throw more hops in. I won’t argue with the creator but I did love the beer so I’m looking forward to trying it later down the track.

Where the monkeys brew

He is also in the process of working on the next limited release, a chocolate stout, that they run under the label ‘Brewer’s Choice’. At the time of our chat both he and Eagle Bay Brewing had one in the development stage. Eagle Bay Brewing Co are located in Dunsborough, about 50km north of Margaret River and Cheeky Monkey, and are just another great craft brewer in the South West. Neither view the fact they are brewing a similar styled beer as a negative and in fact they may take part in a fun side by side tasting at a mutual venue; another example of the openness of the beer community that I adore. Cheeky Monkeys chocolate stout will be using cacao husks and nibs from local chocolatier ‘Gabriel Chocolate‘ and should be pouring off their taps shortly.

The next time you are at Cheeky Monkey and if Red is around be sure to say ‘hello’, he’s happy to chat and he makes great beer – I’m sure you’ll find something to talk about.

Many Cheeky Monkeys