Just three weeks after Australia’s first all-can craft brewery, Pirate Life, began production in Adelaide its two young brewers are already talking about doubling their output to keep up with the demand.
Jack Cameron, 24, and Red Proudfoot, 32, say that their 10,000 litre-a-week brewing kit is already running at full capacity and are considering adding a new production line in the near future. “The excitement that we’ve seen around Adelaide is incredible,” say Cameron. “People want a can in their hand.”
The company’s initial three beers – a Session IPA, a Pale Ale and a Double IPA – are already being stocked by 21 bars in Adelaide and around 30 bottle shops. The company plans to use Adelaide as a springboard into the lucrative Eastern States' pub and bottle shop market.
Not so long ago selling in craft beer in an aluminium can was considered almost indecent by rusted-on “hop heads”, but brewer Jack Cameron, who previously worked at BrewDog in Scotland and Little Creatures in Fremantle, says that Pirate Life always planned to install a canning system when they set up shop in Hindmarsh.
“Canned craft beer is the fastest growing trend in the United States,” he says. “We didn’t even think about doing it any other way. People really want to hold a can in the hand.”
The two men argue that aluminium cans keep beer fresher, are easier to transport and much better for the environment – around 85 per cent of all cans sold in South Australia are recycled.
Rather than simply mimicking overseas craft brewers Red and Jack have come up with a highly original can design which shows the entire brewing process, including the type of hops and malts used, mash times and temperatures.
According to Michael Cameron, Jack’s father, the hardest part of the whole process was coming up with a suitable name for the new brewery. With its American collage-style logo and Jack Sparrow overtones, Pirate Life was the perfect fit.
“We’d been looking around for names for the brewery and one day Jack woke up at around 7am and called me,” says Michael. “He just said ‘Pirate Life’ and just hung up. I rang him back in half an hour and said ‘sounds good to me.’”
But it’s not just the bold logo, all-can portfolio and uncompromising attitude to brewing that sets Pirate Life apart. This is the first microbrewery from Western Australia to move its operations across the Nullarbor to South Australia.
“There were a number of reasons we came to Adelaide,” says Red. “There are so many brewers in WA now and Adelaide also gives us access to the Eastern States. The beer scene is growing so fast in Adelaide and the new small bar legislation is also working well for us. Everyone has got a pretty good palate here. They like good food, good wine and good beer.”
So positive has the response to Pirate Life been that the two brewers are already looking at new styles of beer (a limited release Saison is already ageing in Tempranillo barrels from the Tomfoolery winery in the Barossa), new equipment and new markets.
“We’ve started with three hop-forward beers,” says Jack Cameron.
“The aim at the moment is to get those right first. In May we’ll be releasing a fourth beer, an Imperial Red Ale. Once we’ve nailed those four we’ll knock out eight to 12 specialty beers a year, if we have the time.”