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.
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.
I like the idea that craft beer is perhaps contributing to a changing idea of our relationship to alcohol, helping move us away from the idea that booze is a device to get f**ked up to making it around the stories, the people, socialising and travel, experiencing lots of different things and all that kind of stuff. If craft beer can help with that idea, to bring more positives than negatives to booze then that’s awesome.
This is just a really nice read about a brewery called Night Shift Brewing in Massachusetts and covers their story on how they came about, the way they approach their beers, all the usual things you’d want covered in an article about a brewery you’ve never heard of before.
Finding out what the most loved Australian beers of year has been is always fun, always brings some kind of debate and, generally ends with Feral Hop Hog taking out number one position. If they repeat this, who cares? Well a lot of people probably, but it doesn’t mean the poll isn’t any less interesting or fun. Don’t forget folks, beer is about the fun!
So, here’s what I voted for and, as always, it didn’t take hours for me to put this list together, it’s a list of beers I have loved and would recommend any beer lover to seek out (if able to, of course).
Nail Red Ale – love this beer and love that I work for Nail now. Damn right I’m voting for this gorgeous beer.
Pirate Life IIPA – crazy great beer, epic 500ml can and beautiful branding.
Boatrocker Orange Sherbet – I’m so in love with Boatrocker and this beer is perfect.
Colonial Small Ale – the reduced alcohol beer that still tastes great and all inside a super fun can. Seriously, I love the POP it makes!
Feral War Hog – Wow. A beer that slaps you around a bit but damn if it isn’t one of the finest beers to come out of Feral.
If I could fit more, well Monk R2D8 would be in there for sure. As would Boatrocker Banshee and Eagle Bay Citrus IPA. Damn it’s hard to fill just five spots.
Voting closes at 11.59pm AEST TODAY (Monday 18th January) so get voting now if you haven’t already!
I was invited to a long lunch that was held during the Brews in the Beer Garden event at The Boulevard Hotel on Saturday 18 April. Yes, I know I am a little delayed in writing this up but trust me, weeks on and the memory of top beers and beautiful food is still pretty fresh in my head!
Brews in the Beer Garden has now become a bit of a regular event at The Boulevard in Floreat where brewers and reps take over a section of the pubs beer garden to provide samples of their beers and shoot the breeze with anyone who cares to listen.
A sunny April Saturday was perfect beer garden weather
Eagle Bay showed off their Kolsch alongside their current seasonal Black IPA and Colonial flashed their cans around, namely their Draught Kolsch and Small Ale. Pirate Life, in the midst of their West Australian blitz, continued their launch to showcase their beers – Throwback IPA (a session beer), Pale Ale and IIPA.
It is the third Brews in the Beer Garden outing since first launching in August last year but this time around a long table lunch was added for those a little more serious about their love of beer and food. The lunch consisted of a shared entrée, pasta, meat and cheese with each course being served with two beers. If they host this lunch again, and I hope they do, I would strongly suggest you secure your seat early and plan not to drive as the servings of beer are generous and only out done by the servings of food.
Shared Entrée – Roast Courgette, Red Pepper & Pecorino Arancini
First two beers served with the shared entrées – Camden Town Hells & Young Henry’s Natural Lager
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.
Oh yeah, talk a little yeast and bacteria to me and I’m a happy girl! Mostly because I am still wrapping my head around these magical things. This is a great article to break down “brett”, “lacto” and “pedio” in a way that even me, lacking a lot in the science department, can understand.
I recently interviewed Red, brewer and co-founder of Adelaide’s new Pirate Life Brewing, so I had a good look around their website. This graphic is a fantastic summary of why cans are great. Whilst you’re there though, take a look around the site, I love the way it’s written. It feels like your best friend wrote it, the tone is casual and fun and honest.
A valid argument here. “Hoppy” and “malty” not only don’t tell a beer lover about the beer but they also exclude any one who isn’t familiar with hops and malts. It doesn’t need to be Shakespeare or war and peace but make it relatable and interesting.
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.
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 …
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?
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!