In the hierarchy of holidays, International Talk Like a Pirate Day probably doesn’t register in your top 10. In all likelihood, it probably falls somewhere between Arbor Day and Administrative Professionals’ Day, and that’s a shame. There’s simply no other day on the calendar when it’s acceptable to make copious references to booty, unless you’re an early-90’s hip-hop star.
In case you’re unfamiliar with International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and Wikipedia is broken, here’s the lowdown on the holiday. Oregon friends John “Ol’ Chumbucket” Baur and Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers started it as a joke after one of them exclaimed “arrr” from an injury while they were playing racquetball in 1995. Their inside joke gained traction after the duo sent a letter about their holiday to syndicated columnist Dave Barry, and he promoted it in a 2002 column. The holiday continued to grow throughout the years, and it’s now celebrated internationally on September 19. Yes, internationally.
So, me hearties, if ye be talkin’ like a pirate, ye best be drinkin’ like a pirate, or it’s to the plank, ye scurvy bilge rats! Here be 10 hearty brews worthy of flyin’ the Jolly Roger.
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
City: Ertvelde, Belgium?
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale?
While not exactly known as a hotbed for high seas piracy, Belgium is known for putting out a good beer or two. Piraat Ale’s bottle is emblazoned with blood-red letters and a golden pirate ship sailing above. This tasty, bottle-conditioned brew is sweet and spicy with a nice hop profile to rein it all in. Maybe you’re not feeling all the way like a pirate, in which case you can also try Piraat Privateer, which dials the ABV back slightly to 10.5%.
Brewery: Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
?City: San Diego, Calif.?
Style: Coffee porter?
Many a pirate celebrated victories at sea with a flagon or two of grog. It’s safe to say that watered-down rum has nothing on this heavy-hitting porter. When the folks at Ballast Point created this porter with coffee and vanilla, a star was born, as Victory at Sea is one of their most popular seasonal beers. Ballast Point even celebrates Victory at Sea day in December, which features versions of Victory at Sea doctored up with everything from candy canes to another famous sailor…Cap’n Crunch.
?Brewery: Heavy Seas Beer
?City: Baltimore, Md.?
Style: Pale Ale?
With so many pirate-themed beers in its portfolio, the tasting room at Baltimore’s Heavy Seas Beer should be the place to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The beer names range from the pirate cliché of Peg Leg Stout to the headache-inducing pun of Davy Jones’ Lager. Our choice is Powder Monkey Pale Ale, a traditional English-style pale ale. Powder monkeys were responsible for keeping the ship’s cannons blazing. This powder monkey is responsible for getting you drunk.
?Brewery: Swashbuckler Brewing Company
?City: Manheim, Pa.?
Style: American Pale Ale?
If you were on a pirate ship, and you broke the pirate’s code, you might find yourself the victim of keelhauling. If you happened to survive being dragged across the barnacle-encrusted keel of the boat, you might want to reward yourself with a glass of ale or two. This malty pale ale with Chinook hops would fit the bill nicely. Just don’t drink too many, or you might find yourself dancing with the barnacles again.
?Brewery: Council Brewing Company
?City: San Diego, Calif. ?
Style: Imperial Oatmeal Stout?
A newcomer to the San Diego beer scene, Council Brewing Company is quickly gaining favor with San Diego’s craft beer drinkers. Pirate’s Breakfast is an oatmeal stout with a ton of coffee and chocolate flavors in every sip. This delicious, velvety-smooth stout sounds like a way better breakfast than the traditional pirate meal of grub-infested hardtack. Council Brewing Company is observing International Talk Like a Pirate Day with several different versions of Pirate’s Breakfast on tap.
?Brewery: Tyranena Brewing Company ?
City: Lake Mills, Wis.?
Style: American IPA?
Long the bane of malnourished sailors, scurvy is a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. The ironic naming of Tyranena’s Scurvy IPA isn’t lost, as they brew this American-style IPA with scurvy-curing orange peel. This citrusy IPA may not actually cure scurvy, but if you drink enough of them, you might forget that you ever had it.
?Brewery: Wiseacre Brewing
?City: Memphis, Tenn.
When a pirate says Avast, they’re trying to get your attention. Wiseacre’s Avast! Pirate Porter lives up to its namesake, as this beer is definitely an attention-getter. Like most porters, Avast! is black like the Jolly Roger, but this beer also includes flavors from the islands. Coriander, allspice, orange peel and molasses give this beer plenty of flavors from the traditional pirate stomping grounds.
?Brewery: E.J. Phair Brewing Company?
City: Pittsburg, Calif.?
Style: Pale Ale?
There’s probably no phrase more associated with our romanticized feelings towards 18th-century piracy than “walk the plank.” Whether it was uttered by clean-cut pirates like Errol Flynn or Anne Ramsey’s terrifying Mama Fratelli, this order meant that someone was going into the drink. E.J. Phair celebrates this piratic punishment with its flagship pale ale that features citrus and spice flavors.
Brewery: Astoria Brewing Company
?City: Astoria, Ore.
One-Eyed Willy was “the most famous pirate of his time,” and Astoria, Oregon was his final resting place (yes, that makes two Goonies references in one article). Almost 30 years after Sean Astin and Corey Feldman went on their search for pirate treasure, Astoria is still a must-visit spot for fans of the 80’s classic. Of course, a brewery in Astoria should have a beer with a pirate term, even if it’s a term that would make our Goonies-watching selves chuckle.
For the more mature of us, the poop deck is the deck on the back of a ship, and actually gets its name from the French word for stern. Astoria’s Poop Deck Porter has plenty of dark chocolate flavors with a definite roasted quality. If you drink two or three of these, the term “poop deck” gets funny again.
Brewery: Green Flash Brewing Company?
City: San Diego, Calif.?
Style: Barrel-aged saison?
Any pirate who’s worth his eye patch has a treasure chest, right? For this treasure chest, Green Flash ages this saison in red wine barrels with brettanomyces yeast, and then rests it on plums for six months. The result is a tart, funky saison with plum flavors and a pink color.
While most pirates used their treasure chests to squirrel away trinkets, Green Flash uses Treasure Chest as a way to raise money for breast cancer research. After Green Flash Co-Founder Lisa Hinkley survived a bout with breast cancer in 2010, the San Diego brewery started releasing this beer every year as a fundraiser. For every full pour of this beer sold, Green Flash donates one dollar to breast cancer research, and many retailers and distributors are choosing to match the donation. This cause surely be worth plunkin’ down a few of yer heard-earned doubloons.