A mere five years after launching their first beer, Pirate Life Brewing (PLB) moved into their long awaited, new site in Port Adelaide in March this year.
PLB enjoyed phenomenal success in their first two years of brewing. Taking a swag of awards both here and around the world, sending their craft beers across Australia and the globe on the back of the competition results and public acclaim, via the GABS Hottest 100 for example. That success and their drive to expand to a bigger site led to the founder’s decision to sell to AB InBev in 2017, just two years after they released their first beer. The move saw the PLB range join other craft beers such as 4 Pines within the AB InBev range, but it also allowed PLB to hit the “go faster” button on their move into their vast new site.
It’s also given PLB room to create new beers. Barrel aged beers for example that require plenty of space, lagers that require more refrigeration equipment to brew, and access to markets that the team never had before, like creating their MCC Ale, a beer that has been created for, and only available at the Members Stand at the MCG.
Their latest release is the debut in the Hindmarsh Collection, a collaboration brew with Limeburners, one of Australia’s greatest whiskey distilleries. The resulting beer is simply called “Limeburners X Pirate Life Whisky Barrel Aged Stout 2018”, bottled in a dark 750ml bottle with a thick hulking layer of wax around its cap seal to prevent oxidisation. As mentioned barrel aging beer takes a lot of space, and time. The beer first started its story in 2016, with the first batch spending 18 months in barrel, and was then brewed twice more, meaning the final beer that we see in the bottle is a blend from three separate brew runs. The beers were 30, 18 and 6 months old at time of blending, so it’s a little bit of a solera style – with some of the original 18-month-old barrels being held back maturing in the warehouse to be used in later release’s to give its counterpart extra depth and richness.
The beer that was added to the barrels was a variation of the standard PLB Stout, but created to be slightly mellower, less bitter with a touch of sweetness to work with the bitter tannins that come from the oak. The result is a beer which is layered and complex, with dark malt and oak notes, then hints of chocolate, vanilla, hints of the whisky alcohol, and a touch of coffee, and then the charred whisky barrel kicks in again with smoky, beach driftwood campfire aromas.
It’s dark and moody in the glass, but it’s light and delicate, even silky, with a long finish on the palate thanks to the whisky that has soaked into the oak barrel. Loaded with chocolate, subtle coffee with vanillin oak notes weaving in and out of the earthy and savoury notes of the beer, the hops provide a supportive bitterness that works so well with the tannins of the oak.
What’s particularly exciting is how the beer evolves as it warms, becoming more complex and showing more of the whisky notes. Limited to 4800 bottles, with stocks running low, grab a bottle now as the perfect contemplation beer for the winter months, or as an early Father’s Day present.
Other Pirate Life new releases:
Pirate Life Brewing Port Local Lager – tasty lager is the holy grail of brewing because a fault, a poor recipe or low quality ingredients will stand out like a dunny on a ridge line, and more craft brewers are showing their brewing chops by creating excellent lagers. This is a super clear bright yellow lager, with a tight fluffy head that leaves lacing all the way down the glass. It’s been kept clean and simple, with light spice and subtle earthy notes, finishing very dry. Excellent food match.
Pirate Life Brewing Unfazed by the Haze – hazy New England IPA’s (NEIPA) are all the rage at the moment, yet this drop manages to hold onto all those delicious flavours found in a NEIPA without carrying the cloudy haze of a NEIPA. The 6.4% beer is full of fruit characters, tropical and citrus, with some gooseberry and currant notes courtesy of the unusual strain of White Labs Burlington Ale yeast. Great afternoon on the beach beer.
Pirate Life Brewing Black IPA – some call them “Indian Black Ale” others call them “American style black Ale” but PLB have gone with the more common Black IPA name. It’s a deep dark beer in the glass, with rich, roasted characters of a stout without the stout astringency. There’s a toasty note to it, with hints of chocolate and caramels, citrus fruits playing off against those dark notes. The use of oats gives the beer a smooth mouthfeel and a long finish. The 5.2% alc beer works well with winter meals: roasted meats, casseroles and the like.