Since founding their upstart company PIRATE LIFE BREWING in December 2014, brewers Jack Cameron and Jared "Red" Proudfoot have taken the craft brew scene in Australia by storm. Seemingly coming out of nowhere with some giant flavours, this can be probably be attributed to their backgrounds with punk rock Scottish masters BrewDog. Now calling South Australia their home, Pirate Life has navigated the often finicky critical waters of 'serious' beer drinkers by delivering a series of tins that nobody wants to complain about lest ye walk the plank. Their two latest brews, a NZ Pale Ale brewed with Hopco and a new IPA that expands their core range.
Earning almost universal praise on their Pirate Life IIPA, a hefty 8.8% ABV (that's almost 9% alcohol content, in other words) backed by some serious malt flavours and a cornucopia of other tropical tastes, the two newest additions don't stray too far from what they've already done so well. Sitting between the IIPA and the Pale Ale, the Pirate Life IPA comes with much of the flavour of the tallboy IIPA but might just be even more drinkable for many punters due to two key factors: it's in a far more manageable 355ml can (as opposed to the IIPA's whopping 500ml pint-sized can), and at 6.8% ABV it still has a punch that doesn't leave you ruined for the next drop. We're told it's chock full of Centennial, Riwaka and Simcoe, but for those of us that don't really know the difference between the types of hops inside a beer, it means that it's got a maltiness that gives this a delicious finish, with hints of orange in there as well. If the IIPA is their flagship, then this is their squadron leader.
Over the waters to New Zealand (well, by way of Tasmania at least), the The Hopco + Pirate Life NZ Pale Ale is something quite different. The big hoppy hit, as the name would imply, comes from the NZ Cascade, Motueka and Pacifica hops, and it's a much lighter experience than some of the other Pirate Life beers, and not just because this clocks in at 4.8% ABV. A collaboration with hop supplier HopCo, this brings an expected departure, with the lime aftertaste creating something less robust than the IPA, but that's kind of the point. It's a seasonal drink that you can share over snacks or food. Who needs a Bud Light Lime when you have this? More to the point, who needs a Bud Light Lime?
About the only thing we've ever found ourselves complaining about with is the price, with the IIPA running at $36 to $45 for a 4-pack in most places, although it's really hard to complain when this small group continues to produce such massive quality out of Hindmarsh. Both of these come in 6-packs for well under the $30 mark, and are filling up growlers around the nation as well. So put on some Black Sails, kick back and work your way through a six-pack of either of these fine brews, or journey back through the core range.