Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Sneak Peek At Pelican House!

Hey everyone, I'm sure that anyone following my blog or my facebook page knows about the Pelican House Tap Room & Whiskey Bar, a bar / restaurant in the works with a focus on draft beer.  You've probably seen them off of Corporate Drive when you're cruising down I-10... it's pretty hard to miss really.  Well a few days ago Brenton Day of The Ale Runner and I went over there to check it out and meet with co-owners Chris Juge and Garrett Morgan, and here's what you're in store for!

First off, the building itself was already in place... it was a former Macaroni Grill, and tearing it down or redoing the entire facade would be a waste of time and money, so the guys over at Pelican House opted for just a simple makeover... white paint with blue trim.  They also commissioned a hand-carved wood sign to go over the door, but it's not ready just yet.  Their sign on the back of the building is up though, giving a good hello to everyone driving down the interstate and announcing to them all the Pelican House is coming soon.  There are also plans for a large patio on the left (East) side of the building, but it's still under construction and probably won't be ready for a few weeks after the main space.  

Upon entering the building the first thing to strike me was how open it was.  And I want to say bright, but it's not really overly bright, it's just not a dark dull space like a lot of bars tend to be.  The rafters are all open above and painted a blue to match the exterior, with all the ductwork and such also painted to fade into the background.  It's actually called a "dirt dobber blue" because it was theoretically supposed to dissuade the insects from building nests nearby.  As you can see, there was definitely some thought and attention to detail put into the design of the new space.

After walking in it's hard to say what will catch the eye first when it's all completed... either the panoramic windows and wrought-iron work along the back of the room, or the massive wall of taps to your right.  I'm going to go with the taps, but the rear space is pretty nice itself.  It's a raised platform designed to be used as either casual seating with couches and coffee tables, or to be cleared off and used as a stage for live music.  The iron work completes the required railing height, while allowing the light from the windows to penetrate into the main bar and also adds a nice little Louisiana detail.  The space even has a conference table that can be rented out for large groups in the evening or maybe a business lunch & pint?
 
Immediately to the left when you walk in is a satellite bar, featuring 6 taps that can be changed out for renting out that corner, for private parties, or just to keep some of the best sellers flowing when the place is busy.  6 taps is cool, but what's REALLY cool, is 136 taps.  And that's what the main bar features, 136 taps of beer goodness, and not a single one devoted to Bud, Miller, or Coors.  Yeah, there are a few BMC products on tap like Blue Moon, but avoiding the main brands altogether is impressive and something I'm extremely happy to see.  If you want a Bud Light, they'll have a bottle for you, but it's not going to take up tap space.  Not at Pelican House.
 
And as impressive as the tap wall is, the walk-in cooler used to house and dispense all these beers blows it away.  At least for a beer nerd and homebrewer like myself... I run a 4-tap system at home, these guys have 136 different beers going to 142 taps!  (That's counting the 6 in the satellite bar, but they are fed off the same system.)  Draft beer guru at the Pelican House Phil Beard is going to have plenty of fun with this system.  The inside of the cooler is just crazy... rack shelving all around, with each keg being fed from its own regulator so that the pressures can be dialed in exact for each beer style.  Belgian ales are usually better with a little more carbonation, while bigger stouts don't need as much... with this system each one can be placed at the ideal pressure for the style.  They also feature a FOB unit for each keg which senses when the foam from an empty keg comes though and keeps the beer in the line, which minimizes the waste from each keg and lets the bar send those savings on to the customer.  All in all, a state of the art system, and one of the 20 largest tap systems in the country. 

So much cool stuff going on... the plan is to feature local artwork throughout, and have a "blow the keg" night on Tuesdays, where kegs that are almost out will be discounted to clear the beer lines for cleaning.  One of the most overlooked aspects of a draft beer bar is beer line maintenance... I clean mine at home fairly regularly and leave them filled with sanitizer when they aren't in use.  Obviously there won't be lines not in use very often at a place like Pelican House, so they want to take advantage when kegs empty in order to clean the lines, at least every two weeks.  Just as important as beer being fresh, is beer being clean, so I love that they want to take extra care here.

Now I guess I've been teasing enough... and everyone wants to know one thing, when will Pelican House open?  The answer is really that there is no answer yet.  The place is still under construction, although it's getting closer and closer to completion.  They are still waiting on a lot of their kitchen equipment, and the majority of the behind-the-bar equipment other than the main walk-in beer cooler.  There is still bartops to finish, tables to set up, wood to finish, TVs to install, and so on... but it's getting there.  Their hope when I asked was that it would be a mid to late April opening date.  If everything goes right with their equipment orders, I could see this happening for sure.  And of course, as soon as I know, I'll let everyone else know!   

I could go on about all the exciting things at Pelican House... but let me leave you with one final cool piece of info regarding Pelican House... they want to devote a tap entirely to homebrews.  Obviously thos will be a little different in that they aren't legally allowed to charge for homebrews, but I would definitely donate a keg a time or two to see it on tap at a legit bar, and talk to the customers about a beer that I created.  Pretty fucking cool, if you ask me.  Now for some bonus pictures!