Pirate Life Brewing has a raft of exciting new beers coming out this year, but will maintain a considered approach to distribution in the wake of its Hottest 100 success.
The brewery that released its first beers on March 1 last year stormed into the GABS Hottest 100 Craft Beers of 2015 with an incredible three spots in the top 11.
The result will inevitably fuel further enquiry for its beers, but co-founder Michael Cameron told Radio Brews News there will be no deviation from its strategy of partnering with the country’s leading craft beer bars and independent retailers.
“I don’t see any real rush to move into the major chains. First of all we don’t have the volume to be able to do that,” he said.
Cameron revealed the brewery will mark its first birthday by releasing a 6.8 per cent ABV India Pale Ale, plugging the gap between the Pale Ale and the IIPA in its range.
“We wanted to make a big beer, as our first thing,” he said of the IIPA.
“We spent a lot of time drinking Pliny the Elder, we spent a lot of time drinking Brewdog Hardcore, so our big love is the big powerful beers.”
Trio of barrel-aged beers
Upcoming releases will also include the March release of Golden Era Golden Ale, a collaboration with hip hop act Hilltop Hoods’ imprint Golden Era Records, followed by a Stout in April or May.
Then there’s a series of beers aged in oak supplied by Barossa Valley winery Tomfoolery, to be released in small batches of 750ml bottles. First up is a Spanish-style dark lager that has been in ex-Tempranillo barrels for the last four months.
A Saison has gone into ex-Grenache barrels, while plans are currently underway for an Imperial Stout upwards of 12 per cent ABV to go into ex-Shiraz oak.
Brewer Red Proudfoot’s personal creation, a 7.1 per cent Imperial Red, is expected to follow later in the year.
As well as the quality of its beers, Pirate Life’s success has been attributed to the strength of its brand and packaging, which uniquely features the brewing timeline and recipe around the rim of the cans.
“When you see them on a shelf of other craft beers, they stand out,” commented GABS’ Steve Jeffares.
Cameron said Pirate Life was ably assisted by Melbourne design agency Two Poles Apart in bringing the brand to life after he, Red and Jack came up with some initial concepts.
“Most of it was us sitting around having a beer talking about things,” he said.
“We said, ‘why don’t we put the timeline around the cans and be open with people about the recipe and the brewing process?’
“Strangely enough I think it’s really resonated with people.”
Aside from brand and the liquid itself, Cameron attributes the trio’s early success to hard graft.
“I think we did 140 events in the lead-up to Christmas. We’re very conscious about getting people to taste our beer and understand our brand,” he said.
Episode 75 of Radio Brews News, featuring interviews with Michael Cameron and other key industry people during the Hottest 100 countdown, is available to download here.