The Canning Line

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There’s nothing like seeing a heap of fresh Pirate Life beer hit the canning line and turning into beer ready to drink. Our canned beers are fresh and full of bright beer aromas. Cans don’t let light through like bottles do, so even sitting on a shelf in a store, our canned beer is still unaffected by UV light. Cans also have an internal coating so there’s no tinny taste. They’re kind of like mini kegs.

Cans are also better for the environment. We can fit 100 cases of 355ml cans on a standard pallet. With a normal skinny craft beer 330ml bottle, we’d only fit 70 cases on a pallet and it’d weigh 95kgs more. Because we send our beer out all over Australia, we like to keep the weight and size down. Cans are also easier to stack, chill, squash, recycle, take to ‘no-glass’ events, you name it.

We use our locally made cardboard cartons to hold the 6-packs. They’ve got a few cool modifications like a cut away carry handle. We didn’t have to use plastic reinforcing in the handle because cartons of cans are lighter. With cartons across the arms or holding them like suitcases, it’s really easy to carry 2 cartons of beer.

Red even streamlined the design so we use less glue, the boxes are still strong, but you can fold them down when they’re empty, so they’re easy to pack flat in the recycle bin.

Back to the stainless steel bling, the canning line is from Calgary, Canada and it’s a pretty fancy unit. Brewer Jack knows what all the buttons on the screen do and he’s got the line filling and sealing 35 cans a minute. That’s 2100 cans or just shy of a pallet, an hour. Quick canning means less aroma gets lost while the beer is being filled. The line also does a pre-rinse, post-rinse and dry cycle so the cartons stay dry and don’t sag. It’s great way to get our beers out to our customers in the best possible condition.

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"Message in a can"

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"A new craft beer is about to hit the pubs and bottle shops of Australia, but don’t search the shelves for a designer bottle, it’s coming your way in a can.

Owners Red and Jack, the brewers behind new venture Pirate Life in South Australia, go by a single name each and a different drum, but are all business when it comes to beer. The pair, who upped stumps from West Australia last year, first met while learning their craft beer trade at BrewDog in Scotland. On returning to Australia, Red found himself as the chief brewer at Cheeky Monkey in Margaret River and Jack working at Little Creatures. It didn’t take too long to decide they should join forces and go it alone.

Knowing that the West Australian brew scene is quite crowded, they looked east and only had to cross the Nullarbor to find their perfect HQ. “Adelaide is a great little city,” says Red. “And it’s in the middle of the country so we can dispatch our beer in any direction. We are geared toward national distribution.”

This ease of dispatch is also behind their decision to put their suds into cans.“Cans are lighter to transport,” says Red of the 8.5kg weight of a carton of cans compared to 13.5kg for bottles. “That adds up quickly.” “But first and foremost, cans are best for the beer because they limit light and oxygen exposure,” says Red. “And in any case, you should be pouring any beer into a glass.”

The duo have a nifty infographic explaining their love of the can – why cans – and there isn’t a bearded hipster in sight – which features everything from improved internal coatings that eliminate the metallic taste to the fact cans are easier to recycle and chill faster.

Pirate Life is brewing out of a 1,000m2 warehouse in Thebarton, on the edge of the Adelaide CBD, with three 25hL brewhouse vessels, a combined mash/lauter tun, and separate kettle and whirlpool. “On the cold side of things,” says Red, “We’re starting off with two 25hL CCVs, four 50hL CCVs and one 50hL BBT with room to expand and add another 100hL BBT and eight 100hL CCVs.”

The pair plans to launch at the beginning of March with around 17,000 litres of packaged beer across three styles: 3.5% ABV session IPA, 5.4% ABV pale and an 8.8% ABV IIPA.

So far they have approached more than 30 pubs to stock their product and Red is confident that the tinnie “is making a comeback”.

Our Brewhouse

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Our shiny new brewhouse is getting a workout since it was installed here in the brewery mid-January 2015.

It was ordered from Stainless Systems in Escondido, California in mid 2014. Coincidentally, one of our brewers, Jack, lived just nearby for 4 years back in his USA brewing days. Our other brewer Red saw their tanks at Eagle Bay brewing in WA and was pretty impressed.

The brewhouse arrived just 3 days after we arrived in Adelaide so we really hit the ground running, converting a large shed into a fully functioning brewhouse in less than 3 months.
The brewhouse is a 3 vessel system with a combined mash and lauter tun, a separate steam jacketed kettle and a whirlpool which clears up the wort and is a great place to add plenty of aroma hops. Our brew length (how much we can brew each time) is 2500L, or in brewer talk that’s 25hL. At the moment we also have 2 single batch cylindro-conical tanks (fermenters) that are 25hL and 4x 50hL tanks. We also have a 50hL bright tank which chills the beer down so it’s extra bright and conditioned perfectly.

We commissioned our brewhouse on the 12th of February 2015 and we can’t wait for you to taste what we can make with it.

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How to NOT shotgun a beer

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We love a quality tinnie & there are a whole lot of ways to drink them, one method we would NOT recommend is demonstrated brilliantly by our old mate Hester. Sorry buddy.
-J&R-