The Pelican brews on a copper-clad, steam-fired, three-vessel, 15 bbl (465 gallons) system that was custom built for us by Pub Brewing Systems in Santa Rosa, California. The copper cladding is for decoration only, and no copper touches the beer at any step in the process. The kettle was built by Newlands Systems and installed in 2006. It features bottom and side jackets and an internal calandria.
The brewer is equipped with four 15 bbl unitank fermenters, two 30 bbl unitank fermenters, four 15 bbl serving tanks, one 7 bbl (217 gallons) serving tank, and one 13 bbl serving tank. Most of the beers are filtered on a three-meter, horizontal leaf, Velo filter (the Heiferwizen is not filtered).
The brewing process starts by milling select American and imported malts in a two-roller mill. The base malt is stored in one of three grain silos, while the specialty malts come from bags. The malt travels through a drag conveyor to the mill. Once milled, it travels via another drag conveyor and is deposited in a grist case.
From the grist case, the malt falls by gravity through a grist hydrator, where the malt mixes with hot water. It then falls into the mash tun. In the mash tun, the combination of crushed malt and hot water, known as Mash, rests for 90 minutes while the starch of the malt is broken down into sugar by enzymes naturally present in the malt. At the end of the mash, we begin draining out the rich, sweet, clear liquid, called wort. As the wort gradually drains out of the mash tun, we gently rinse the grains with specially treated hot water to extract all of the sugar from the grain in a process known as "sparging". The sparge takes about three hours on our brewing system.
The sweet wort (a solution obtained by an infusion mash of malted barley, then fermented to form beer) that results from the mash collects in the brew kettle, where we bring it to a full rolling boil while adding the hops. Hops are the "spice" of beer, adding bitterness, flavor, aroma and a natural preservative value to the beer. After the boil, we pump the wort through heat exchangers and into the fermenter.
In the fermenter, the wort mixes with fresh, pure ale yeast and a week-long yeast party ensues as the yeast feast on the malt sugars to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. A cold conditioning step follows during which the beer flavor matures and the beer begins to naturally clarify.
When the beer is fully fermented, cold-conditioned, carbonated and mature, we filter it to ensure a final sparkling clarity and then we transfer it to the serving tanks.
In the tank, we assess the beer for state and federal excise taxes. The beer is then dispensed directly to the beer faucets. The serving tanks serve as the primary storage area for finished beer. Additionally, we fill kegs and run the bottling from these tanks.