By Dan Haag
For the Oregon Beer Growler
The phrase “necessity is the mother of invention” could well have been coined with Oregon brewers in mind. How else can one explain decades of behind-the-scenes research and development that have carried the state’s brewmasters to the front of the line?
Case in point, the team at Pelican Brewing Company recently unveiled the “Hopinator,” an innovative system designed to create a more efficient, safer method for dry-hopping beer.
Made in collaboration with designers at Metalcraft Fabrication in Portland, the Hopinator streamlines how the agitator introduces hops to the fermenter. They also redesigned the method to move hops in and out of Pelican’s brews more efficiently and effectively.
Up and running at Pelican’s brewing facility in Tillamook, the Hopinator — also dubbed R2-D2 by the team — bears a slight resemblance to a certain “Star Wars” favorite.
Much like that beloved droid, the Hopinator helps things run more smoothly. Brewmaster Darron Welch has been impressed with the results.
“It overcomes a lot of the utilization problems with traditional dry hopping,” he says.
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 carbon dioxide.
As a result, there is extremely low oxygen pickup compared to the traditional dry-hopping process, increasing flavor stability and quality.
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. Welch says the benefit is that Pelican is now able to use around 30 percent fewer hops with better results.
Fans of Pelican’s brews will notice the difference.
“What this means for the beer drinker is enhanced taste and aromatics,” Welch says. “It introduces much less oxygen along with the dry hops in an anaerobic environment.” He adds that for beers where the dry hop charge stays exactly the same, there is a better, “punchier” dry hop aroma.
Beyond the science and increased efficiency, the Hopinator addresses many of the safety concerns associated with dry-hopping.
“There’s no more hauling 50 pound buckets of hops up high ladders,” Welch says. Hop infusions are done easily at ground level with the mixing element and agitation built in.
Installing the Hopinator wasn’t as simple as going to a supply store and hooking up a couple hoses. Welch admits that this project had been on his wish list for many years and that development took quite some time.
“It was two trade shows ago at the Craft Brewer’s Conference where we were looking at some of the options that were on the market at that time,” he says, adding that Pelican was close to purchasing a more traditional “hop gun,” a piece of equipment designed in Germany. While there’s much to like about the hop gun, Welch wasn’t convinced it was the right fit for Pelican.
“American craft brewers use a lot more dry hops than any German brewer would rightly consider,” Welch says. “We started looking at ways to design a system that eliminated some of the challenges of that particular equipment.”
Those challenges included constant plugging and the infusion of hops taking a much longer time than desired.
After a series of back-and-forth conversations with Metalcraft about adapting the hop gun for Pelican’s needs, it became clear that a completely new design was in order.
“Metalcraft worked with us to achieve the design we wanted,” Welch says.
Another plus is mobility, as the Hopinator can be moved from vessel to vessel, depending on which batch is receiving dry-hopping. Welch says this eliminates the need for hoses strewn about the floor and streamlines the workload.
While Pelican will not be marketing or selling the Hopinator, Metalcraft will be offering the design to other customers. The Pelican team is thrilled with their creation and have reached the point where they can’t imagine dry-hopping any other way.
“It’s turned out to be a great benefit in terms of time, efficiency, cleanliness and safety,” Welch says.
By Gail Oberst
Look up “wild” in the dictionary, and you’ll get two definitions. One refers to “wild” plants and animals native to a place. The other refers to things untamed and feral, maybe even primitive. I’m not sure which applies best to Tillamook’s de Garde Brewing (it means “to keep”). Maybe both.
So when de Garde’s brewer, Trevor Rogers, the tall son of a third-generation Petersburg Alaska fishing family, greets me dressed in overalls, swirling beer in a tulip glass amid 80 wood casks, my first impression is that this is a brewer who may know how to tame wild beers.
Rogers and owner Linsey Hamacher, who doubles as his fiancé, have just expanded operations to a new brewery in the Port of Tillamook industrial development shared by the Air Museum. The two met in southern Oregon, just after Rogers earned his bachelor of fine arts degree. Hamacher had just returned home from a stint with the Peace Corps in North Africa. The two became ardent home-brewers – especially after Rogers took a non-brewing job at Pelican. They tried brewing at Pacific City, but for some reason, the wild yeasts there were just not right, Rogers said.
De Garde Brewing’s new 3,000 square-foot brewery does not replace its small tasting room in downtown Tillamook, but it provides ample room for the current 7-barrel brewhouse and blending tanks, more wood barrels, and a new “coolship” – a giant container the shape of a giant square cake pan. It is in the coolship where the “wild” thing happens. In wild beers (sometimes called Belgian-style), the cooling wort in the coolship’s shallow pan is exposed to the open air, inviting native yeasts and bacteria, and prompting spontaneous fermentation.
Tillamook’s steady ocean breezes produce an atmosphere that, like coastal Beligum, carries on it yeasts that create great beers. Unlike Belgium, Tillamook’s temperate stays cool and wet year-round. Rogers can brew every month of the year – in Belgium, hot summer temperatures halt most Belgian wild brewing.
“This beer is a representative of this place, this time,” said Rogers. “It’s in the style of Belgian lambic producers, but it is distinctly here.” The same combination of native yeast and bacteria occur nowhere else in the world.
Rogers is among a growing number of Oregon brewers who have chosen to specialize in native beers. He was inspired by Alex Ganum at Upright Brewery in Portland and Nick Arzner of Block 15 in Corvallis, who Rogers said helped introduce wild beers to consumers in Oregon. In addition to those at least a dozen other breweries have flirted with wild brewing, although de Garde and Block 15 may be the only truly wild beer producers. The others purposely introduce yeasts that have wild origins, Rogers said.
So far, de Garde’s reception has been wildly successful during Rogers’ and Hamacher’s Portland-area tastings. On-line and print reviewers have done their share of raving when de Garde was in the house. At just a year old, the brewery already sells out each of its releases, which are bottled and sold from the tasting room. Catering to de Garde’s early out-of-town supporters, Rogers has created a “Keepers” club where he creates special beers including (next month) a lambic-inspired beer that includes southern Oregon Tempranillo grapes, and a double Berliner Weisse aged with Merlot grapes.
Memberships to the Keepers Club will reopen in the fall.
Now that de Garde has a coolship, its tanks are freed for Rogers to brew more often. The brewery could expand in the current building by simply removing the wall next door. But before that happens, Rogers is filling up his current space vertically with plans to triple his barrels to as many as 300 by this summer. Unlike non-wild breweries, all of de Garde’s beer, once it begins fermenting, spends most of its days – up to four years – in wooden barrels or casks that once held gin, rum, whiskey or wine. Inside the barrel, a thin skin called a “pellicle” forms a cap on the beer, protecting from oxygen.
“This is going to be fantastic,” Rogers said, tapping the end of the keg old-school by pounding a nail about a third of the way up and letting flow into his glass an aged strong sour, officially weighing in at about 14% ABV, the strongest allowed before you have to call it “wine.” It took about two tons of grain to push it that high, he said.
This particular ale won’t see the light of day for a few more years. Until then, visitors can content themselves with beers as they are released (see below).
Plans for the future include beer release events in the brewery, thanks to a new OLCC license that expands the use of the new space. The first of these events will be at 2 p.m. Feb. 1, but if you miss that, stay tuned. There will be another in March.
Public releases Feb. 1 and brewer’s notes are:
Loak: 375ml bottles, $8/bottle, no limit. Strong, dark and sour, bourbon barrel fermented and aged brew. Chocolate and coffee notes, with tart red fruit character and rich barrel complexity with a balancing rustic funk.
Vin Lee: 750ml bottles, $14/bottle, 12-bottle limit. Sour red ale base, a blend in freshly-emptied Pinot Noir barrel aged brew. A secondary fermentation with approximately four pounds per gallon of Pinot Noir grapes from a Dundee Hills vineyard in the Willamette Valley. Juicy character and an elevated balancing acidity complemented by earthy notes are a subtle complement.
Note for word geeks: de Garde is spelled with a lowercase “de” at the beginning. The editor, however, doesn’t start sentences or headlines with lowercase letters.
Pelican’s owners, Mary Jones and Jeff Schons, and their crew of brewers, managers and staff, hosted the soft opening of their new brewery and brewpub in downtown Tillamook last month. Although the new location can’t offer exquisite views of Pacific City’s Haystack Rock, for beer lovers, it offers an even better view. The taproom’s tables overlook the new brewery. No walls or windows separate the public from the production. The taproom -- which seats about 45 at the bar and tables -- provides the sights, smells and sounds of a working brewery.
The Tillamook brewpub opened to the public last month, but the expanded commercial beer production has already put out its first beer – Stillwell #1, which was on tap at the opening and at the Pelican Pub in Pacific City. Pacific City’s popular restaurant and brewery will house Pelican’s experimental and small-batch line of brews. Tillamook is home to the new taproom and brewery where four new 60-barrel fermenters, as well as the old 30-barrel fermenters from Pacific City are now in production.
The expansion will boost Pelican’s capacity from the current 4,000 barrels per year to as much as 10,000 barrels per year. The brewery is aiming for 8,000 barrels in the next year, according to Waylon McAlister, head production brewer formerly with Elysian in Washington. Last month, McAlister was preparing Pelican’s winter seasonal, “Bad Santa,” available this month.
Visitors will also have an added bonus: a portion of the brewery’s cement floor has been set aside for shuffleboard. There, a few feet from the brew house, visitors can paddle their pucks while swilling some of Oregon’s award-winning beer.
“We want to let people get closer than usual to the brewing process,” said Steve Panos, brewery manager.
With the new brewery comes expanded production. This month for the first time Kiwanda Cream Ale and Silverspot IPA are available in 12-ounce bottles and six packs. The brewery has also launched a beer club that provides direct shipments of beer beginning in December.
Tillamook’s food menu includes some of the same Pacific City favorites, but is more casual and certainly more Tillamook. Tillamook fried cheese curds, Tillamook ice cream, burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads a kid’s menu featuring root beer are among menu items. Take out orders are welcomed.
In addition to Pelican’s awards at the Great American Beer Festival last month (see related article, this issue), Pelican also in September won four medals from European Beer Star, a prestigious international contest held in Germany. Medals went to the Imperial Pelican Ale (Silver, IPA), the Surfer’s Summer Ale (Bronze, English Style Bitter), the McPelican’s Wee Heavy (Gold, Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy), and the Mother of All Storms (Silver, Wood and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer).
[a] 1708 First Street, Tillamook (at the corner of Stillwell)
[h] 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday
Above, Workers at Crosby's Hop Farm near Woodburn.
Following -- Emily Engdahl put this great list together for the Oregon Beer Growler's print edition. Those who want to hold this list in their hands can pick it up Oct. 1 here. If you want to see Emily's list on her website, go to http://oregonbeercountry.org. Thanks Emily!
List compiled by Emily Engdahl
For the Oregon Beer Growler
10 Barrel | Crosby Farms Harvest Ale | 5.5% | 55 IBU
Base Camp | Golden Hopportunity Belgian IPA | 10%
Base Camp | In-2-Tents |
Base Camp | Hopularity Contest Pale Ale | 5.3%
Breakside | Fresh Hop Citra | 6.5%
Brewers Union 180 | Little Green Men Cask Cond’d IPA | 5.5%
Bridgeport BridgePort | Hop Harvest | 8.0% | 60 IBU
Claim 52 | Whoa-Dang Fresh Harvest Ale | 5.5% | 55 IBU
Coalition Brewing | Green Pig Fresh Hop Pale Ale | 5.0 % | 50 IBU
Coalition Brewing | Simply Dank Fresh Hop ISA | 4.0% | 40 IBU
Crux Fermentation Project | Cruxtennial Belgian Pale Ale | 7.0% | 35 IBU
Crux Fermentation Project | Off the Fence
Crux Fermentation Project | Crystal Zwickel
Deschutes Bend | Hop Trip | 5.4% | 38 IBU
Deschutes Bend | Chasin’ Freshies | 7.2% | 65 IBU
Deschutes Bend | Cinder Cone Red | 5.9% | 47 IBU
Deschutes Portland | Fresh Hop Bitter | 5.0% | 43 IBU
Deschutes Portland | King Cone Deluxe | 6.4% | 55 IBU
Deschutes Portland | Fresh Hop Mirror Pond | 5.0% | 40 IBU
Deschutes Portland | Oktoberfest | 6.1% | 30 IBU
Double Mountain | Killer Green IPA | 7.5% | 75 IBU
Double Mountain | Killer Red IRA | 7.2% | 97 IBU
Double Mountain | Killer Brass IPA | 7.9% | 88 IBU
Falling Sky | So Fresh, So Green Fresh Hop Lager | 5.7%
Falling Sky | Nuggets of Wisdom Fresh Hop | 5.5%
Fort George Brewery | Co-Hoperative Ale | 5%
Fort George Brewery | Fresh Hop Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale |5.3%
Fort George Brewery | Fresh Hop Belgian | 7.5%
Fort George Brewery | Hopstoria | 5.6%
Full Sail | Full Sail Fresh Hop Pilsner | 6.0% | 60 IBU
Gilgamesh Brewing | Fresh Prince of Ales Fresh Hopped DIPA | 6.9% | 100+ IBU
Harvester | Harvester Fresh Hop Meridian Pale Ale | 5.3% | 30 IBU
Hop Valley | Citra Self Down “Fresh Hop” Pale Ale | 6% | 40 IBU
Hopworks | Bitchin’ Camaro Fresh Hop Lager | 6.0% | 60 IBU
Hopworks | Fuggin’ A Fresh Hop IPX Single Hop Ale | 5.7% | 48 IBU
Humble Brewing | Larch Creek Harvest Ale | 7% | 66 IBU
Laurelwood | Fresh Hop Mother Lode Golden Ale | 5.1% | 25 IBU
Laurelwood | Workhorse IPA | 7.5% | 80 IBU
Laurelwood | Fresh Hop Pale (Project 21) | 5.9% | 35 IBU
Laurelwood | Free-Range Red | 6.1% | 60 IBU
Lompoc | Harvestman Red | |6.1 % | 60 IBU
Lucky Lab | The Mutt | 3.6%
McMenamin’s | Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale | 6.9% | 44 IBU
McMemamin’s | Roseburg Station | Hopqua | 6.8% | 67 IBU
McMenamin’s | Old St. Francis (Bend) | Golden Sparrow Fresh Hop | 5.2% | 45 IBU
Migration | Glisan Street Fresh Hop Pale Ale | 5.1% | 33 IBU
Migration | Wild Style Fresh Hop Farm House Ale | 6.1% | 39 IBU
Migration | Better Off Fresh IPA | 7.5% | 85 IBU
Ninkasi | Total Crystalation IPA | 6.7% | 65 IBU
Ninkasi | Hop Fraiche | 5.2% | 40 IBU
Oakshire | ‘Bout a Hunerd Hops Pale Ale
Oakshire | Rogue Red Rye IPA
Old Market Pub | Schrader Brau Fresh Hopped Oktoberfest | 4.5% | 12 IBU
Old Town Brewing | Cent’s and Centsability Pale Ale | 5.5%
Old Town Brewing | Freshtoberbrau | 5.8%
Pelican Brewery | Elemental Ale | 5.4% | 55 IBU
Pfriem | Fresh Hop Mosaic Belgian Wheat | 5.1% | 18 IBU
Pints | Seismic Upgrade Imperial IPA | 8.2% | 100+ IBU
Pints | Oktoberfresh | 5.7% | 17 IBU
Pints | Crystal Lite Lager | 4.1% |10 IBU
Portland U Brew & Pub | Freshy Foystons Pale Ale | 5.8%
Portland U Brew & Pub | Papa Paul’s White Wall Pale Ale | 6.0%
Salem Ale Works | Triple F IPA | 6.0 %
Santiam Brewing | Hoppy Froppy | 6.3%
Santiam Brewing | Hopville Rye Pale Ale | 5.2%
Santiam Brewing | Fresh Hop Brown Ale | 4.8%
Sasquatch | Oregon Session Ale | 4.7%
Sasquatch | Woodboy IPA | 6.8%
Sasquatch | Red Electric IRA | 6.7%
Sasquatch | Healy Heights Pale | 5.6%
Sasquatch | Celilo CDA | 8.0% +/-
Silver Moon | Hoppopotamus Fresh Ale | 6.5%
Sky High | Fresh Hop Ale | 5.0% | 25 IBU
Solera | Chubby Bunny Fresh Hop DIPA | 9.5%
Stickmen | Single Malt – Single Hop (SMaSH) | 5.8% | 34 IBU
The Commons | Fresh Hop Myrtle | 5.3%
Three Creeks | Cone Lick’r Fresh Hop Ale | 5%
Three Creeks | Hop Wrangler Fresh Hop Red | 5%
Upright | The Hop and the Abstract Truth Belgian style pale/triticale saison | 5.1% | 30+ IBU
Vertigo | Hop Harvest IPA | 5.3% | 45 IBU
Viking Braggot | 100 Day Anniversary ESB | 5.5% | 50 IBU
Widmer Brothers | Dark and Dank Fresh Hop Lager | 5.1%
Widmer Brothers | Bring the Boom Fresh Hop IPL | 6.6%
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.