Jason Schoneman of Steel Toe Brewing is full of ambition and optimism. His devotion to the brewing process along with a deep respect and passion for the craft made him a natural fit to be the Pelican alumni brewer featured in our third installment of the Bird-Day beer collaboration series.

Sixteen years ago, Jason joined the Pelican Brewing Company team where he learned the essential steps to brewing great beer under Brewmaster Darron Welch alongside other notable alumni, including fellow Bird-Day Vol. II Alumn, Ben Love. “After graduating from the World Brewing Academy in 2005, I lived in Omaha, Nebraska, and came across a role at Pelican Brewing in a tiny coastal town in Oregon. I flew out, fell in love with the coast and the brewery, and moved out to Pacific City, where I resided for the next four years,” says Jason Schoneman. “Pelican is where my career started and more importantly, where I learned how to create beer the right way. I was fortunate to learn from a small, dedicated, and innovative team of brewers who were all willing to share.”

Prior to studying at the World Brewing Academy, Jason worked at a brewery in Montana spending 15-hour days washing kegs and filling bottles. His passion for beer and the industry never wavered—proving to himself that he was ready to further his commitment to the craft. Jason went on to receive his education in Chicago, and shortly after joined the team at Pelican Brewing where he quickly rose to become Head Brewer. Jason created a seasonal favorite with his recipe for Bad Santa, the Cascadian Dark Ale that is still in the line-up to this day. “I learned not only how to make really great beer and do it consistently, but also to do whatever it takes to sleep well at night,” Jason remembers, “I learned to invest in the brewery in ways where you don’t have to worry about it when you’re away from it.”

After his time at Pelican, Jason moved back to Minnesota, and in 2011 founded Steel Toe Brewing with his wife Hannah. Steel Toe Brewing, touting the tagline “big dreams of staying small” serves the Twin Cities community with a variety of quality and consistent beers. For Jason, joining Darron at Pelican set the foundation for his career. “Being able to brew at Pelican was quite an honor, for sure” says Jason. “Many of the brewers that mentored under Darron went on to do great things and have their own breweries—to be part of that group is really special.”

“From the moment he came to work at Pelican, Jason had an insatiable desire to learn everything he could about brewing. That passion for everything that is great about brewing is what has transformed a pipe dream into the reality of Steel Toe Brewing today,” Darron says fondly. “The Bird-Day series has been so amazing to be a part of. To bring so many of the great brewers that I’ve worked with over the years back to Pelican to create all new beers that fall way outside of the boundaries of what we normally do has been a true joy,” Darron continues.

Collaborating on the concept for Bird-Day Volume III started as a blank slate, but these two creative minds quickly found inspiration in doing something new. The primary idea behind Bird-Day Volume III was to create an entirely new style of beer that married the strength of a Barleywine with fruity hop character, crisp finish and low bitterness – creating a tactile sensation that may remind the drinker of tannins in wine. Like a dry white wine, this beer is lighter in body and focuses on a refreshing character in spite of the substantial alcohol level. “Bird-Day Vol. III is what we are calling a Hopwine, It features plentiful hop aromas and fruity flavors, all the ABV punch, and a bright distinguished color,” Darron says.

To execute this new style for Bird-Day Volume III, Darron and Jason designed a triple dry hop process that introduces the different hop varieties at different intervals, creating a flavorful, aromatic beer without the driving bitterness. “One of the really unique things about this particular beer is that we designed it without any hops in the kettle or the whirlpool, and all of the hops for this beer are going into the fermenter as three different stages of dry hop. We’ll have three separate dry hop additions, very early in the fermentation, half-way through and at the tail end,” Darron says.

Jason goes on to say, “This triple dry hopped ale is going to be something special with these carefully selected hop varietals, we’re going to get some white grape, cantaloupe, maybe a hint of pear in the aroma and flavor.” The flavor profile of Pelican’s third alumni collaboration features aromas of berries and pear, vibrant, intense hop character, hints of tropical pineapple and pear and subtle bitterness creating shocking drinkability. Bird-Day Volume III 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 III.

Pelican’s 25th Birthday celebration continues all year long with the release of one more alumni collaborations featuring  Hutch Kugeman of Brooklyn Brewery. Cheer to 25 years of beers!