Pirate Life wine barrels

A series of craft beers aged in barrels from Australia’s most famous wine region will be launched by Pirate Life Brewing this month.

The South Australian brewer has teamed up with the Barossa Valley’s Tomfoolery Wines for the series, which will include a Black Ale aged in Tempranillo barrels, a Saison in Grenache and a Stout in Shiraz barrels.

Pirate Life chief executive, Mick Cameron, said the bottle-aged project was a sizeable shift from the brewery’s flagship West Coast Pale Ale and IPAs packaged in cans.

He said: “This is not a hop-driven product, it’s more about flavour and it works well in bottles. You get mouthfuls of the beautiful ripe plums as well as a little bit of the hops and a little bit of the beer, so it’s a very interesting beer to drink because there’s so much going on.”

The small-batch beers in 500ml bottles will be launched with the release of the Black Ale this week. The Saison is expected to be available from October, while the Stout will get its release in March.

Mick said: “The boys did a lot of barrel-aged work at BrewDog with whisky barrels so it’s something we’ve been playing around with because you never know what the result is going to be.

Founded by brewers Jack Cameron (Mick’s son) and Red Proudfoot, who worked together at Brew Dog in Scotland, Pirate Life was launched in Adelaide in March 2015 with about 17,000 litres of packaged beer. It has quickly grown from three staff to more than 20 and aims to produce 1.2 million litres in 2016/17. It will also this month begin managing its own distribution across Australia.

“After a beer’s been ageing in a barrel, you’re not sure what elements it’s going to pick up from the barrel and you don’t know how the beer’s going to react after sitting for four or five months.”

Pirate Life won champion small brewery at the Australian International Beer Awards in May and was last month crowned champion large brewery at the Craft Beer Awards in Brisbane where it also won the title of champion pale ale. It also won a haul of prizes at the Royal Adelaide Beer & Cider Awards in July.

Pirate Life has also recently released a 3.2% Porter in kegs and a 7.1% Stout. Mick said the Porter would possibly be put into cans in the coming months in time for summer.

“We believe there’s a real opportunity for a mid-strength dark beer in this country,” he said. “I think a really nice lightweight, easy drinking, mid-strength porter has got some legs. The stout will continue on through next winter.”

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