Pirate Life easy on the eye

Ross Lewis

It was designed to taste like an American Pale Ale. Yet it could easily have been American Pie.

For four decades the composer of the great folk classic, Don McLean, when asked what his song meant, simple replied with “you will find many interpretations … but none by me”.

Two highly-talented Western Australian brewers who now call Adelaide home have adopted the same approach to their low-key but ironically brilliant first release.

Jared Proudfoot and Jack Cameron are Pirate Life. Even the brewery name is something of a mystery.

That was the plan. Proudfoot and Cameron wanted the focus of the operation to be on the beer, not a marketing gimmick.

The cans for their delicious trio of first releases – a mid-strength India Pale Ale, a Pale Ale so reminiscent of those from the US west coast and an Imperial India Pale Ale, are plain but striking in colour.

“It is clear and concise but neat and smart,” said Proudfoot.

“There is no back story to the beers. Some brewers get marketing teams to create a back story to a beer than hasn’t existed yet.

“Our beers will get nicknames or personalities on their own. The IIPA already has which I’m pretty chuffed about.

“As a black 8.8 per cent can it is called the Party Starter. It has got that organically. We didn’t tell people what it is or isn’t. Punters have come up with that themselves and that excites me.”

The approach is surprising considering both Proudfoot and Cameron had stints with Brewdog. The Scottish enterprise is renowned for its aggressive marketing approach.

But while some of the tricks the pair picked up in Scotland will feature n parts of their production it will be the lessons learned early in WA that will drive Pirate Life.

Cameron spent time at Little Creatures while Proudfoot gleaned plenty of knowledge in setting up a brewery by creating the Cheeky Monkey enterprise in the South West.

The pair are backed by Jack’s Dad, Michael, who has considerable sales and distribution in the beer industry.

Pirate Life was the name devised by Jack Cameron but the pair concede it doesn’t have a hidden meaning either. “It just seemed to fit the brewery,” said Michael Cameron.

The moniker had to come quickly because the pair brought their goods to the market quickly. Delayed equipment meant the Adelaide brewhouse didn’t kick into gear until February 12 and within three weeks the Pale Ale was available to drinkers.

The brief for the beer was that it should stand proudly among the Pale Ales sold in San Diego bars. Mission accomplished. Mosaic hops give a fresh fruity appeal.

Pirate Life’s Throwback Session IPA might be 3.5 per cent but it is probably the most flavoursome mid-strength in the country. Those that want a hop fix without the high alcohol edge will savour this drop.

And those that want to be smacked in the face by Simcoe, Centennial and Colombus bitterness will relish the IIPA. At 120 IBU it is big on everything. Even the can is 500ml up from the 355ml for the other two.

There will be more to come. A 7.1 per cent Imperial Red All and Saison are in the works, so, too, is a Black Belgian IPA for the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular.

Proudfoot and Cameron picked Adelaide as a base because of is strategic location for national distribution. But, the South Australian capital, is just emerging as a good beer force.

But they found a perfect location that would allow each to pursue their passion.

The duo have a Ying/Yang relationship and rarely brew together. Indeed, a recent observer of them in operation believed they worked on a telepathic style as there was little dialogue as each went about their tasks.

There has been internal rivalry for the right to manufacture the GABS entry.

“Jack and I were competing over who was going to brew it,” Proudfoot said. “We might get to the brew it together. That would be nice.

“We don’t do a lot together/ One would be brewing and one might be canning or getting into paperwork.

“I probably hog the brewhouse a little too much but he is good at packaging. We know what we’re good at so we best we stick to that.”

Gauging from the initial release that partnership is going to have a strong impact within the Australian beer community in the time it takes to pop open one of their cans.