Beervana Guest: Darron Welch, Pelican Brewing Co.

By BeertownNZ Sat, 08 Aug 2015 Wellington

Pelican Brewing started from a spectacular beachside brewpub in Pacific City, Oregon, 150km south west of Portland. Brewmaster Darron Welch is a Beervana guest, and will be packing some local hops to brew with Tuatara Brewing.

Beertown.NZ: Tell us about Pelican Brewing:

Darron Welch:Pelican Brewing was founded in May of 1996, and I was the original head brewer.  In the early years, it was a one-person show in the brewery, but these days we have grown significantly.

We currently have both the original 15 barrel (1755 litre) brewpub in Pacific City, but also a 30 bl (3510l) brewery in the nearby town of Tillamook that produces the bulk of our volume.  In 2016 we will be investing heavily in our Tillamook brewery – adding about 13,000 square feet of production space and a 150 bpm bottling line.  At the same time, we will also be opening a new brewpub further north in the resort town of Cannon Beach.  That facility will have a smaller brewhouse, either 7 or 10 barrels.

Does Pelican have a distinctive brewing style or philosophy?

Pelican Brewing takes inspiration from all of the great brewing traditions of the world, but our beers are also distinctly American.  We focus on creating beers that illustrate, as much as possible, the world of beer flavor, aroma, color and texture. 

This really goes back to our roots as a small, stand-alone brewpub that was started in a small rural town.  It might be hard for people to believe, but 20 years ago, there was a tremendous lack of consumer knowledge about all the flavor possibilities in beer, so we set out to create a line-up of beers that covered as much ground as possible.  In designing Pelican beers, there are a few key points: aroma, assertive yet balanced flavors, clean snappy finish, excellent attenuation rates.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the aroma of our beers, designing processes and selecting ingredients to achieve exactly what’s desired.  That sets the stage for delivering assertively balanced flavor profiles.  I’m very picky about what hops we use for base bittering, because I find that the wrong hop can give a broad, harsh bittering quality rather than the clean snappy finish we’re after.  We work very hard on managing our yeast for optimal pitching rates, consistency of fermentations and ester profiles, and consistent attenuation rates.  Our beers are generally very well attenuated, which promotes the clean flavors and finish, as well as drinkability.

And what are you expecting to experience on your trip to New Zealand?

My expectations are pretty simple: meet some like-minded folks who love great beer, go where I’m needed/wanted, have a chance to taste first hand the beers of New Zealand.  Basically, this is just a great opportunity for me to come and visit New Zealand, so I really have no specific agenda during my visit.  That being said, I will be visiting Carl Vasta at Tuatara brewery and we will brew something with the hops that I’m carrying in my luggage.

Darron is guest of Beervana's Portland Exchange programme. Meet Darron, and the other guests Tyler Brown and Jacob Leonard at the Battle of the Brewers, 12 August, and at Beervana, 14 & 15 August, Wellington.

By BeertownNZ Sat, 08 Aug 2015 Wellington