Every good beer and whisky tells a story, one that begins with malt and water. But that’s where the similarities end and the stories head in different directions.
Where beer enjoys a cool, calm and short-lived journey, whisky’s path is forged by fire and left in the dark of barrels for years at a time. Within this beer these two tales weave themselves back together.
The story of the Limeburners x Pirate Life Whisky Barrel Aged Stout truly begins many years ago when Great Southern Distillery founder Cameron Syme began to hear the tales of his rebellious Scottish ancestors, who gave up the whereabouts of their illegal distillery and used the reward money to start a new one. A successful career in law took him to the UK where he took every chance to visit the birthplace of whisky – Scotland. After years of research and planning Cameron distilled his first whisky in 2004 and hasn’t looked back since. Today Cameron's team, led by distiller Benjamin Kagi, makes some of the best whiskies and gins in Australia.
This made the decision for Pirate Life to zero in on Great Southern Distilling for a barrel collaboration an easy one. When Cameron dropped in to the Hindmarsh brewery for a few beers and whiskies with Red they got on like a distillery on fire. It didn't take them long to come up with a few cracking ideas for a collaboration. As has been proven, a few drinks can conjure some bloody good ideas (and if they don't, at least you've had a few tasty beverages). Next thing the Pirate Life warehouse began to fill up with Limeburner’s barrels, which meant we had to brew some beer to fill them.
That beer was a variation of our standard stout but a bit mellower, less bitter and a little sweeter to offset the astringency you get from oak. It was a malt bill of mostly Maris Otter, a bit of Pale Malt, Cararoma, Carafa III, Roasted Barley and Chocolate Malt. A simple, earthy hop bill of EKG and Fuggles was chosen to compliment the vanilla from the barrels, the chocolate from the malts and the sweetness of the whisky. The first batch spent 18 months in barrel, and since then we have brewed it twice more, meaning the beer in the bottle is a blend from three separate “vintages” so it's a little bit of a solera style – some of the original 18-month-old barrels are still in the warehouse maturing.
The result is a beer which is layered with many years of complexity, first from the whisky and then from the stout. Dark and thick in the glass the aroma has hints of chocolate, vanilla and a touch of coffee. The barrel's charred American oak gives the nose a subtle hint of campfire and roasted marshmallow. The palate is silky and sweet, vanilla is here again along with chocolate and honeycomb. This is followed by wisps of fine malt whisky, a touch of acidity, subtle unami and lingering, moreish finish. You want that next sip and it's easier than you would think to watch the whole bottle disappear in front of you as you enjoy the slow evolution in taste and aroma while it slowly warms in the glass.
Launching around Australia early February in a limited release of 4800 bottles.