Ben Love of Gigantic Brewing Company is a magnet, with his larger-than-life personality and passion for the beer industry. His customers and colleagues can’t help but be drawn to him and his ability to create tasty beers through his deep understanding of the brewing process, vision, and exceptional palate.

Seventeen years ago, Ben joined Pelican Brewing Company and embarked on what he calls his first real brewing job with Brewmaster Darron Welch. At the time, Pelican was still in its first decade of brewing and developing its distinguished style as a small, independent craft brewery on the Oregon Coast. It was just Darron and Ben brewing together in the original Pacific City Pelican brewery producing Pelican classics like Kiwanda Cream Ale and India Pelican Ale.

Although it was just the two of them, Darron and Ben had an early connection before they even started brewing that set the groundwork for a creative and mentoring relationship. Both Darron and Ben had attended the same brewing school, the American Brewer’s Guild, and worked at the same brewery in Wisconsin, the Appleton Brewery at different times. Both connection points that sparked their close relationship in and out of the brewery.

For Ben, joining Darron at Pelican set the foundation for his career today. “Darron was more than a manager or boss. He was my mentor, teaching me everything there is to know about beer,” says Ben. “More importantly, he taught me the right way to create beer. Darron is, so detail orientated and never skips a step, which is something that I have carried with me throughout my brewing career.” From Pelican, Ben went onto be the first Head Brewer at Hopworks Urban Brewery and eventually started Gigantic Brewing Company with his business partner Van Havig. Gigantic is known for making exceptional IPAs and producing exciting and flavorful seasonal beers.

Collaborating on Bird-Day Volume II was like riding a bike for Darron and Ben. “In the early days, it was just Ben and me brewing. We had to collaborate on just about everything: production, process, beer design, marketing, sales, press releases, you name it!” says Darron. “We had great connection right away, and that understanding just strengthened over time, making us a great team for brewing.”

The inspiration for Bird-Day Volume II came from Ben’s love of Mezcal Sours. “Over the past year of spending more time at home, I began to experiment more with cocktails, and I really enjoyed drinking my version of a Mezcal Sour that features both the smokiness of Mezcal and citrus flavors,” says Ben. With this spark of inspiration, Darron and Ben created a uniquely balanced ale with tangerines that they aged in three different kinds of Mezcal barrels for three months to develop the complexity and depth of flavors you will find in Bird-Day Volume II.

The flavor profile of Pelican’s second alumni collaboration features aspects of bright tangerine and pithiness in the finish, with a hit of smokiness, agave, and vanilla-like toasted oak from the barrels. Bird-Day Volume II is now 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 II.

Pelican’s 25th Birthday celebration continues all year long with the release of two more alumni collaborations featuring Jason Schonemann of Steel Toe Brewing and Hutch Kugeman of Brooklyn Brewery. Cheer to 25 years of beers!