For Pelican’s final Bird-Day collaboration, Brewmaster Darron Welch welcomed back Hutch Kugeman, a passionate educator and Head Brewer of the Brewery at the Culinary Institute of America created in partnership with Brooklyn Brewery, to create a culinary-inspired Dark Ale with Ancho Chiles.

Hutch joined Pelican as an intern 18 years ago, where he earned his brewer wings under Darron, and his passion for brewing beer grew. “Since Pelican was my first job, I feel like I really got the bases of doing thing the right way.  It’s not all about drinking beer and being creative. Darron really gave me the base I needed to go into my next job with proper procedure,” Hutch explains. Today, Hutch combines his enthusiasm for beer with his passion for teaching at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. “I get to teach the next generation of culinary leaders about beverages,” says Hutch. “Beverage is a huge part of the food world, and craft beer plays a significant role in that world. I help create an understanding of why beer and food are an important and intimate experience for people.”

For the Pelican team, the culinary experience is one of the critical components they think about when creating a new beer, so it was only natural to bring back a culinary expert for the final installment of the Bird-Day alumni series. “What’s special about this beer is the culinary approach that Hutch and I have taken for creating the flavors of this beer,” says Darron. “We consulted with the Culinary Institute of America’s Chef team after some trial and error in the brewing process to understand how we can incorporate chiles into this beer and bring rich flavor to this dark ale.”

The flavor profile of Bird-Day Volume IV is a Dark Strong Ale with a spicy character from the yeast, combined with fruity and earthy characters from the chiles and a chocolatey raisin character from the malt. This beer delivers harmony and richness of flavors, ideally paired with smoky meats and a dark winter night next to a fire. Bird-Day Volume IV is available in 500 mL bottles coming soon to your local bottle shop, on draft at Pelican Brewpubs, and in Pelican’s Bird-Day Box Volume IV.

Additionally, sharing knowledge, ideas, and processes with colleagues is a staple in Darron’s career and to see his previous brewers following in his footsteps brings a special joy to his heart. “The focus of Hutch’s brewing these days is teaching. I think it’s really neat that he brings his students into the beer design process to give them a window into the brewing process,” says Darron. “It feels really rewarding knowing that I was able to play a small part in his career and some of that knowledge being passed forward. It’s reassuring to know that the future of food arts and brewing is in good hands.”

Over the past 25 years, Darron has created many award-winning beers, but it’s the relationships, teachings, and memories that stand out the most. The Bird-Day alumni series serves as just a small representation of the amazing people who have passed through Pelican’s doors and earned their wings under Darron.

“My only regret for the Bird-Day series is that we only had four spots, and we have so many fabulous Pelican alumni, we’ll have to just do another series!” says Darron.

Cheers to 25 years of beer and to the next 25.