By Melissa Keogh
Father and son duo Michael (MC) and Jack Cameron and his best mate Jared (Red) Proudfoot are South Australia’s most dedicated hop heads.
Almost three years ago the trio packed their bags in their home state of Western Australia and headed for Adelaide – all in the name of beer.
In the beginning the lads behind Pirate Life Brewing in Hindmarsh were the new kids on SA’s brewing block.
But now their brews are on the lips of beer lovers here and overseas, with beer production volumes hitting the millions.
Pirate Life Brewing was born through the mateship of Jack and ‘Red’ who met while undertaking apprenticeships at Scottish craft brewery, BrewDog.
The pair lived, studied and worked together, bonding over their love for a pint or two and a shared dream to one day launch their own craft brewery.
Beer runs in the blood of the Cameron boys, as MC also worked at BrewDog among other hospitality ventures.
Once the Scottish stint came to an end, the men travelled home to hone their skills with Jack working for Little Creatures, while Red went to the Margaret River and spearheaded Cheeky Monkey.
Meanwhile, the best friends and MC began exploring South Australia for potential sites to launch their own brewery.
It was to be Adelaide – a city they yearned to make famous for more than “churches and an ice coffee fetish”.
They settled in Hindmarsh in 2014 before the first ‘tinny’ rolled off the production line in 2015.
MC, who takes the reins of Pirate Life as CEO, says SA was the perfect fit because of its distribution capabilities and reputation as a premium food and wine destination.
“It’s a fantastic place as a distribution hub,” he says.
“We can send fresh beer to Sydney and Melbourne overnight and Brisbane and Perth in two days.
“SA is also well-renowned for its premium produce, especially within the wine regions and the products coming out of Kangaroo Island and other areas.
“It’s as good as you could find anywhere in the world.”
The word about Pirate Life Brewing quickly got out, with craft beer aficionados lapping up the Pale Ale, the IPA (India Pale Ale) and more recently, the Mosaic IPA.
The brewery snagged three big wins at last week’s Royal Adelaide Beer and Cider Awards, while the Mosaic IPA was crowned Champion IPA at the recent National Craft Beer Awards.
From just three employees, Pirate Life grew to take on 41 staff and now exports its product to Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the UK.
While Pirate Life beers are recognised for their punchy, West Coast style flavours, they are also renowned for canning as opposed to bottling to maintain freshness and flavour.
This month the Pirate Life boys revealed plans for a brewery expansion in Port Adelaide in 2018.
The exact location is yet to be revealed, but MC says it will include a new restaurant/bar and will double its employment numbers.
He says SA’s craft beer industry is going from strength to strength.
“I think craft beer challenges the palate and taste buds,” MC says.
“People are really keen to try something different.”