On the 22nd July, the second day of the inaugural Birmingham Beer Week, we made our first visit to The Wolf for the Pirate Life Tap Takeover.
Whilst The Wolf is one of Birmingham’s newest bars, having opened earlier this year, it quickly gained notoriety from national news coverage, after being forced by BrewDog to change its name from ‘Lone Wolf’ to the current brand (for more information, check out the write-up by our friends at the Midlands Beer Blog Collective).
Forgetting the national press interest, what excited us most about The Wolf was the hordes of love being shown to the bar on social media and the great choice of beers on draft and in the fridge. So far this year, The Wolf have held a number of hugely successful Tap Takeover and Meet the Brewer events with some of the most exciting breweries in the UK. By the time Birmingham Beer Week rolled around, it was way past due that we made a visit. With a Tap Takeover coming up with an exciting brewer, myself, Dave and Luke knew we had the perfect opportunity.
I’ve heard alot about Pirate Life Brewing Co so far this year. The online hype around the Adelaide, South Australia based brewery has been rapidly growing this year, with more and more of their beers making the 10,000+ mile journey over to these shores in cans and kegs. Any online feedback I’ve read has been strikingly positive, and while I don’t necessarily treat sites such as RateBeer as Gospel, you can’t argue with a rating like 97/100. The more I read about Pirate Life, the more I was convinced that they must be something special and the 22nd July couldn’t come soon enough.
We got the train into Brum early afternoon, arriving at The Wolf at around 2pm. The bar had been open for a couple of hours at this point and there was already a fair few people congregated around tables, chatting and enjoying their beers. The three of us headed straight to the bar and Dave was first to get his wallet out to get a round in. What a guy.
On draft, there were six lines dedicated to Pirate Life: Stout, Mosaic IPA, IIPA, IPA, Pale Ale and Throwback IPA. It was the label for the Mosaic IPA that stood out most, so we ordered three.
Pirate Life Mosaic IPA
It pours a rich golden colour with a strong white head. The aroma is exactly what you would expect from mosaic hops; dank and resinous, orange and grapefruit. The taste is really well balanced, with flavours of tropical and citrus fruits, seamlessly combined with caramel notes and a satisfyingly bitter finish. This beer is totally gulpable.
Still standing near the bar having our first sips and nodding approvingly at each other, Sean Robertson, European Brand Developer for Pirate life introduced himself and asked how we were enjoying the beer. We were impressed with our first choice and let Sean know so. When we learned that this keg was one of only 6 in the UK at that moment, we felt all the luckier to be knocking it back.
In the week leading up to the event, I’d read up on the cold supply chain that Pirate Life swear by to keep their beer totally fresh despite travelling for 6 weeks across the world. Given the huge hoppy aroma and bitterness of the Mosaic IPA, it could just as likely have been brewed down the road, let alone in South Australia. Sean seemed to dig that we had taken such a keen interest in the brewery and was more than happy to discuss the logistics involved in getting beer from A to B at a consistent temperature of 3⁰C. It’s this attention to detail that shows you just how serious Pirate Life are about freshness and making it in European craft beer markets.
It was great to spend a couple of hours exploring the beers on tap and talking beer with Sean. We covered plenty of topics, including the history of Pirate Life, their plans for the future, beer can design, social media and the key similarities and differences between craft beer culture in the UK and Australia.
I personally was massively impressed with my first experience of Pirate Life Brewing, with the Mosaic IPA and IIPA the standout beers for me (I’ll be honest, the Pale Ale, IPA and Throwback IPA were also damn enjoyable. I didn’t get around to trying the stout, but I’ll be right on it come winter time).
It was an awesome first visit to The Wolf and I can’t wait to see more of Pirate Life Brewing in the UK.
Interested in more about Pirate Life? Take a look at when we met owner, brewer and CEO – Michael “Mick” Cameron