A (fast) Pirate’s Life

Their brewery runs 24/7 and plans for their second site are well under way. Pirate Life Brewing showed up in 2014 and have been going fast and strong ever since.

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.

L-R: Paul Wyman (Nowhereman Brewing), MC (Pirate Life Brewing) and Adrian D’Espeissis (Eagle Bay Brewing)

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,”

Michael Cameron

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.

 

 

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!