Tuesday, 24 October 2017 14:23

“I’m not a pirate, I’m an innovator” – Pirate Life Brewing

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This blog talks about pirates quite a lot, particularly in light of the distinct paucity of actual pirates actually making beer. In the early years the pirate posts were mainly championing the annual International Talk like a Pirate Day, which surprisingly often coincided with the world famous Oktoberfest. Coincidence? Absolutely.

I really like the idea of being a pirate – setting your own course, striking fear into the hearts of your opponents, wearing a cool hat and, importantly, not having to do freaking GST returns. In reality, if I was a pirate I would very quickly drown, starve or stab myself by accident, possibly all three at once. After dying at sea, my ship would likely be seized by Inland Revenue for unpaid GST. Frankly, my skill set is not suited to the Pirate Life.

That is a surprisingly smooth almost stylish segue into this week’s actual topic – Pirate Life Brewing. This award-winning Adelaide brewery was only established in 2014 but quickly achieved critical and popular acclaim. Their generally hop-forward beers first appeared on the Malthouse taps in November 2016. Ciaran, the effusive, barbate and natty Malty Unit Manager, has just confirmed that Five Pirate Life beers will be going on tap from 4pm on Friday 27 November 2017.

Two of the following beers are the only kegs in the country which:

a)    Is tremendously exciting.

b)    Makes it hard to write tasting notes.

As a result, I will be relying heavily on the brewery’s own descriptions (which are always quirky and well-written) and on-line reviews from those fortunate enough to have sampled the brews. [1]

Pirate Life IPA 6.8% - Pirate Life describe their IPA as “sitting nicely between our Pale Ale and IIPA at 6.8% ABV - the IPA has a gentle orange hue and a round, full bodied malt character care of Pale Malt, Munich and Crystal. With our Pale Ale and IIPA having withdrawn most of our funds from the dank bank we thought it was time to make a beer that brought something a little different to the table. Chock full of Centennial, Riwaka and Simcoe our IPA is bright, fruity and full of liquid fun.”

Pirate Life Mosaic (7%, 58 IBUs) – The brewers describe it as “the beer equivalent of a fruit punch juice box” and that seems to be a fair assessment. It is a deceptively simple beer with some clean light malts in the background but the undoubted star is the famous and delicious Mosaic hop – rather a lot of them in fact. Drinkers have reported notes of grapefruit, pine, resin and mango.

Pirate Life West Coast IPA (6%) – This limited edition beer was brewed for this year’s annual Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge. It was going to be the first international entry but tragically the brew was not ready in time. Pirate Life was not going to send the beer before it was ready but Friday will be proof that good things can come to those who wait. [2] It rumoured to contain notes of orange, passionfruit and pine.

Pirate Life Hopco New Zealand Pale Ale (4.8%) – “Ample” amounts of New Zealand’s own Motueka, NZ Cascade and Pacifica hops star in this balanced, flavoursome ale. Hopco is the Tasmanian hop merchant who supplied those key Kiwi ingredients. The brewers claim there is a key lime pie or even lemon curd cheesecake aroma which is certainly... different. Reviewers have also noted marmalade, pine sap, caramel and grass flavours.

Pirate Life x Ballast Point Transpacific Partnership Pale Ale (6%) – Well, the name is very topical with one of the first acts of our soon to be new Prime Minister being to head off to trade negotiations for the agreement that may replace the now defunct Transpacific Partnership Agreement. While President Obama was down with the TPP, President Trump most certainly was not and withdrew America. Sad.

The genesis of this beer was the brewers of Pirate Life and Ballast Point, an excellent brewery in San Diego, meeting at a beer festival in Hong Kong, enjoying a few beers together and coming up with an idea. [3] That idea became reality in the frothy form of this collaboration brew which was made in California after the 2017 Craft Beer Conference.

This is a strong American ale heavily hopped with American, Australian and New Zealand hops. [4] There is also lime and coriander added in the whirlpool for extra zing.  The main flavours identified include passionfruit, caramel, lime, pine, spice, peach and toffee. There is also a strong bitter finish.

It is a very exciting line-up. Even I think there may be just enough hops on offer...

Now, I have to make a stunning confession to my readers. The quotation that forms the title of this blog is from the controversial Kim Dotcom. I just could not resist... Apologies to Pirate Life Brewing for any offence caused here.

Next time, we drink to my beloved Pukeko. Tragically unplaced in the recent New Zealand Bird of the Year poll, the species has responded with its trademark dignity and sophistication. Media reports today have them officially listed as “the new culprit in rubbish thievery in Hamilton.” If only the mighty Pukeko had thought to chat with the birds which came second and third in the voting they might be declared co-winners. They just needed 7%...


[1] This should probably read “more heavily” as I have to write quite often about beers that are yet to go on tap. Malthouse learned very quickly that inviting me in to try all the new beers before they were released was an unwise (and expensive) tactic.

[2] Like, say, an actual coalition agreement.

[3] As you do.

[4] We may be out of the TPPA but we are (briefly) back in ANZUS with this hop blend.




Neil Miller

Beer Writer

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