11 August 2016
Pacific City, OR. (August 11, 2016)—Consistent with their independent spirit and award-winning creativity rooted at Oregon’s rugged coast, Pelican Brewing Company has re-imagined an alternative method to dry hop beer. Driven by a desire to create a more efficient and safer method to dry hop, Pelican’s brewmaster Darron Welch looked to the collaborative talent of Portland’s Metalcraft Fabrication to help manufacture a better vessel. The result: the Pelican Hopinator, a safer, more productive and sanitary system for dry hopping beer—and a creation closely resembling Star Wars’ R2D2. (Image embedded at end of this release.)
“With the help of the experts at Metalcraft, we’ve rethought the process of how the agitator introduces hops to the fermenter and redesigned our method to move hops in and out of our brews more efficiently and effectively,” says Welch. “Metalcraft was willing to listen to us, work with us until we perfected a design that was exactly what we wanted. Not every fabricator would have been that patient.”
The biggest difference for the beer drinker is enhanced taste and aroma. The new process introduces much less oxygen—the hop pellets go directly into the clean vessel, then the brewer seals the vessel and purges with CO2. As a result there is extremely low oxygen pickup compared to the traditional dry-hopping process which increases flavor stability and quality.
According to Welch, because the hops are incorporated into the liquid with an agitator and emulsified in the beer, then shot back into the main fermenter, the brewers are able to extract much more flavor and aroma from the hops than the traditional method of dry hopping. The benefit is Pelican is now able to use 25-30% fewer hops and achieve better results.
“Darron Welch is one of the only people who thinks about beer to that level of detail—almost to the point of obsession,” says Waylon McAllister, Metalcraft brewer on-staff who trained for several years under Welch at Pelican. “He not only cares about being true to beer recipes, but he’s concerned about the integrity of the beer and how it’s going to fare—he’s a savant in that regard. And he’s definitely one of the most respected and award-winning brewers in the world.”
And the employee safety benefit of the new Hopinator is huge. It eliminates the need for Pelican brewers to climb extension ladders to the top of 180-barrel tanks to drop in 50 pound buckets of dry hops. As Pelican continues to expand its facilities, this becomes even more important in terms of risk management. Hop infusions are done easily on the ground level with the mixing element and agitation built in.
“We like to think of ourselves as the artists behind these unique tanks and vessels so brewers like Darron can craft award-winning beer—the better the equipment the better the beer,” says Liz Shearer, director of sales and marketing, Metalcraft. “Pelican came to us with a brewing system challenge and together we processed and customized a design for Pelican’s needs and Darron’s unique processes.”
“I’d say Pelican’s Imperial IPA is the gold standard of IPA—and dry hopping; and now we have a new solution to dry hopping that raises the bar on IPAs everywhere,” says McAllister.