Pelican Brewing Collaborates with Metalcraft Fabrication on New Dry-Hop Injection Vessel


Pelican Brewing Company collaborates with Portland’s Metalcraft Fabrication on a new more efficient dry-hop injection vessel called the Pelican Hopinator. Pelican Brewmaster Darron Welch teamed with experts at Metalcraft like Waylon McAllister, also a former brewer under Darron at Pelican. The result: the Pelican Hopinator, a safer, more productive and sanitary system for dry hopping beer—and a creation closely resembling Star Wars’ R2D2.

More from the press 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.

Born at the Beach

Pelican was born at the beach 20 years ago as a small, stand alone brewpub in a small town on the Oregon coast—Pacific City.  Pacific City is still a small town, but with consistent growth and demand for its products, Pelican sales are up more than 500% from 3,500 barrels in 2013 to 18,000 barrels this year. The company recently doubled its brewing and bottling capacity at its Tillamook facility and opened a new brewpub in Cannon Beach. Pelican also recently won a bronze medal at the World Brew Cup℠ and eight medals including Champion Medium International Brewery at the Australian International Beer Awards.

According to founding brewmaster Darron Welch, Pelican has always been focused on creating as wide a range of beers as possible:

  • Designed and brewed with innovation and craftsmanship
  • Showing our guests and fans the many possibilities of flavor in the world of beer
  • Dedicated attention to detail in the pursuit of quality and consistency

About Metalcraft Fabrication

Metalcraft Fabrication designs and fabricates brewing systems in the heart of Portland Oregon. Metalcraft builds the highest quality brewhouses, and fermenters, cellar tanks, and grain handling equipment for the craft brewing industry. Metalcraft Fabrication serves over 130 breweries worldwide. Our brewhouses range from 10 BBL to 40 BBL, and our fermenters and brite beer tanks range from 10 BBL to 400 BBL. In addition, Metalcraft designs innovative solutions and equipment for every aspect of brewing operations, including dry-hopping, open fermention vessels, yeast propagators and CIP tanks. If you’re looking to expand your brewhouse, upgrade brewing equipment, or open a new brewery, we’re here to help. Metalcraft Fabrication offers on-staff brewing expertise, dedicated project managers and engineers, and the most experienced stainless steel metal fabricators in the industry.

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Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: