As I mentioned before, a few months ago, my brother was in town. During his trip we tried to go to as many breweries as possible in Oregon. We made it to a few, and we had a few beers, but our favorite experience of the entire trip was definitely our private brewery tour at the Pelican Brewery and Pub. It’s located in Pacific City which as you can probably guess, is located right on the coast–about 30 feet from the beach in fact . It’s a gorgeous location and it’s one of my favorite places to visit in all of Oregon (see photos below for more of the scenic view).
We stopped by, ate some lunch and decided to get a flight of all of the beers. They had the usuals:
- Doryman’s Dark Ale
- India Pelican Ale
- Kiwanda Cream Ale
- MacPelican’s Scottish Style Ale
- Tsunami Stout
- Grand Cru de Pelican
And then they had a few seasonals:
- Ankle-Buster Ale
- Surfer’s Summer Ale
- Winema Wit
Pelican had just won Best Large Brewpub at the World Beer Cup a few weeks prior, so our expectations were rather high for each beer. Suffice it to say, we were a bit disappointed–but how could you not be after an award like that? Don’t get me wrong, none of the beers were bad, in fact just about all of them were very good, but I think we were expecting to experience brand new flavors and to fall in love a little more with each sip of every single beer. This was not the case.
So we paused and talked for awhile about what makes a good (or great…or THE BEST) brewpub. We settled on the criteria of: good/drinkable beer that meets the style guidelines of each beer, combined with consistent brewing results that keep patrons and judges consistently impressed.
You don’t have to reinvent the beer wheel to win any awards–either for your homebrews or for you own brewery.
So after our lovely philosophical brewery discussion, we were on our way out when I asked one of the waiters if they did brewery tours. They told me that they sometimes did and that it was up to the brewer at the time (and how busy they were). It being a Sunday afternoon, he wasn’t very busy and welcomed us behind the curtain, into the wonderful world of Pelican beer.
Mike Johnson was our brewer tour guide and couldn’t have been nicer, more gracious, or more patient with us as we (rather imbibed-ly) asked nerdy question after question. He showed us all around, checking out the usual brewery joints: grains, mill, bright tanks, fermenters, mash tun, kettle, etc.
They have a 15 barrel system, which is pretty small for a “large brewpub” but they brew a few batches a week–enough to keep up with demand.They had about 10-12 fermenters; all of which were glycol-laced (temperature-controlled).
It was great talking with Mike. He started out as a homebrewer, had a three-tiered, all-grain system and this was actually his first professional gig as a brewer. Always heartwarming to hear about brewers who can go straight from homebrewing to commercial brewing without thousands of dollars for another degree and/or years scrubbing floors and working their way up to the brewing level. While I do believe in putting in a hard day’s work, as well as putting in your time and committing to a company, it makes sense that if you can brew, you know the science behind what you’re doing, and you can get good, consistent results, you can and should be a brewer.
After the tour, we had a great cider, mead and cask ale that was dry hopped. Man, each beer seemed to get better and better that day…which I guess is the case if you drink that many beers in one afternoon.
All in all, the Pelican Brewpub is a great brewery with some great beers and is still one of my favorite places in all of Oregon.