Pirate Life Brewing’s story is one of real adventure, of travelling great distance in search of their life goal: to one day own a brewery. It's a tale that begins in the land of the kilt: Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where the two young brewers, Jack Cameron and Jared "Red" Proudfoot, met and honed their brewing skills through apprenticeships for craft beer powerhouse BrewDog.
Here, in the bitter cold of Scotland’s icy winters, the idea of one day running a successful craft brewery in Australia was spawned. Jack and Red worked together, studied together, lived together and drank together, always dreaming of the light at the end of the tunnel (or, perhaps, just for the sun to come out). It seemed that craft beer ran in the family’s blood as Michael Cameron, Jack’s father and now CEO of the company, was also an employee at BrewDog, building their first bar in Aberdeen among other things.
With an increased knowledge of brewing in their heads and a drive to create their own craft beer brewery, the lads jumped on a plane back to Western Australia to make it all happen. To complete this quest properly, it wasn’t going to happen overnight and many hours of planning were needed to start the barrel rolling. So Jack accepted a job at Little Creatures in Fremantle where he continued to learn new brewing techniques and methods. Red followed a similar pathway, helping establish the Cheeky Monkey Brewery in the Margaret River region.
Meanwhile, in the background, witnessing the lads' passion and drive for crafting great beer, Michael began accumulating funds to make the dream come true. An opportunity at an already established brewery arose in the Barossa Valley but, after deciding this wasn't for them, the Pirate Life folk explored Adelaide and fell in love: with the culture, the bar life, the festivals and the city itself.
After visiting multiple properties, the right building was finally found in December 2014 in the bustling suburb of Hindmarsh, the place that Pirate Life Brewing now call home. All that remained was the drive from WA, across the Nullarbor Plain, and into their new home.
The brewery they've built in Hindmarsh is set in a giant tin shed, which was custom designed to suit all things beer. With a 2,500 litre brewhouse at one end plus four 5,000 litre fermenters, two 2,500 litre fermenters, a small lab and a canning machine. Yes, that’s right: a canning line because Pirate Life Brewing are strong believers in the humble tinnie. In fact, so devoted are they to beer in canned form they've cleverly displayed their entire brewing process around the rim, complete with the malts and hops that are used, all the way through to the recycling process.
The core range of beers was first released by the boys in March 2015: the Throwback Session IPA; a Pale Ale at 5.4 percent; and a big hoppy Double IPA at 8.8 percent. The first two come in 355ml vessels and the latter in a giant 500ml tin: a big vessel for a big beer. To complement the core range, seasonal and limited release beers will also find their way into the drinker’s hand.
But what of the name Pirate Life?
"We believe we live our life just like a pirate would, we are care free, relaxed and brew what we want to,” says Jack.
Since launching, the brewery has enjoyed runaway success, winning many awards and exploring export markets. There are plans in place to open a second larger brewery and venue in Port Adelaide, a process that should be easier since they sold the business to CUB/AB InBev on November 30, 2017.