First things first: Pirate Life has been lucky over the past few years to be supported by an amazing group of people. To our family and friends (many of whom we have made over the past few years) thank you for helping us follow our dreams. To our OG shareholders, who have invested both time and money in our business: without you Pirate Life would simply not have been possible. To all our customers: your initial support and belief, demonstrated by putting a brewery you had never heard of on your shelves or on your taps and helping us grow, is something special. And to all the punters, who have got behind our brand and enjoyed our beers over the past few years: your backing has been humbling.
Pirate Life was founded on the belief that given the opportunity, most people in Australia and around the world would prefer – as we do – to drink high quality, full flavoured beers. When we sat down to discuss starting a brewery, making great beer was our key focus. It has remained our key focus throughout the past three years. When we sold our business to AB InBev two weeks ago, the passion for great beer wasn’t sold with it. Rather, a world of possibilities which were far beyond our reach has suddenly opened to us. When we founded Pirate Life, our aim was to become a global player. This next step will help us realise our dream of seeing Pirate Life on shelves and in bars all over the world.
Despite what some of our peers may have said over the past couple of weeks, independence doesn’t brew great beer; good brewers do. We truly believe that these guys can not only help us, but help the whole industry with their assets and knowledge. Why can’t we all make this industry even better? Over the decades, from cultivating experience as brewers prior to kicking off Pirate Life, we’ve been involved with all sides of the brewing game. From the huge growth and staunchly independent BrewDog, to both pre & post-Lion acquisition of Little Creatures, and everything in-between, we thought we were in a good position to have a look at this option.
When ABI first approached us a few months back, we had reached the end of a long 12 months trying to secure investment to help us expand. Private equity, debt, equipment finance, government grants and loans were all explored and a lot of the time we found ourselves at a dead end, no better off than where we started. Luckily, when we got the tap on the shoulder, the timing was perfect. That said, it was far from an easy decision. A lot of sleepless nights, long meetings, thought and emotion have gone into this decision, but it made complete sense. We want to keep building the best brewery possible to make the best beer we can and sell it across the globe – this will help us make that happen.
Being part of a global brewer is something we could not be happier about; we are now in the lucky position to be able to learn from some of the biggest and best in the world. As much as some of the ABI brands aren’t craft beers, they are well made and consistent. Every time you drink a beer from the big guys you know what you are going to get, and they deliver every time. This is something we have aspired to from day one with Pirate Life. Consistency is king, especially in such a crowded market, and the knowledge and expertise ABI will bring to the table when it comes to quality assurance is unbeatable and we are pretty stoked on some new toys we have arriving soon for our lab to help deliver this.
Our employees will now have opportunity we could never have provided them independently. From the guys in pack town, to the brewers, to the sales reps and the team in the office - they are now part of a global community and can take their career anywhere they want. That path will be in the hands of each of us, be it with Pirate Life, or another part of the ABI family somewhere else around the world. The education and training available to our team in the future is very exciting. Their development has always been a top priority and we now have the resources to ensure that we create the best possible environment for them to learn and grow. Our people have always been our most important asset, for the last few years we have asked a lot from them – long days, nights and weekends – so the chance to give them this kind of opportunity was too good to turn down.
As we mentioned earlier, the process of securing money to build a new brewery and build it properly was never going to be easy. In fact, as the months went on, we continued to compromise with our design and slowly downgraded or removed equipment as the expected pool of funds got smaller and smaller. With the backing of ABI we can now dust off the original plans and get to work building our dream brewery down at Port Adelaide. Not only are we able to build a state of the art brewery with support of people who have done it multiple times around the world, but we can also open a one of a kind hospitality venue. It is a privilege to contribute to Port Adelaide’s rejuvenation, and to provide jobs for a heap of South Aussies both during construction and the operation. Our dream is that Port Adelaide becomes as much of a destination for visitors to Adelaide as McLaren Vale or the Barossa Valley.
Our team are staying on to help us on the next step in our journey. We have the best crew around, and if you walked into our brewery any day since the acquisition, you wouldn’t have known the difference, and most importantly the stereo is still blasting. It’s business as usual, of course it’s not going to change. Our business has been built on good quality, flavour forward beer that we love to drink and the punters that have enjoyed it. Why ruin a winning formula? We founded Pirate Life with the intention to sit in the same world as Stone, Lagunitas and Ballast Point – beers we fell in love with living in the States and Europe. We want to be big, we want to be global, and this is just another step in that process.
To everyone that has supported us so far, thank you again. It’s been a pretty epic journey – crazy growth, no cash, a heap of fun and a fuck load of beer made, hundreds of flights and hotels room, almost 1000 events, a lot of hard work and a tonne of good times. Here is a toast to the future being full of much more of the same…