The Thirsty Beagle

Friday, October 26, 2018

Edmond beer scene, where you at?

BEER

Completely unacceptable.

That's what I feel like the craft beer situation is like in Edmond right now.

Before you say, "But what about The Patriarch?" check out this list:

-Oklahoma City
-Tulsa
-Norman
-Stillwater
-Broken Arrow
-McAlester
-Krebs
-Broken Bow
-Ponca City
-Pryor

That's the list of cities in the state with operational breweries right now, according to ABLE Commission records.

Where you at, Edmond? I mean, when Ponca City, Pryor and even Broken Bow (with not one but two breweries!) have gotten in the game, you know you're behind the times. (And, we're due to have a brewery in Enid soon, while I've also seen someone is trying to open one in Duncan.)

Fortunately, things have improved and look like they will continue to improve as far as Edmond is concerned.

I've seen it all play out. I've lived in north Oklahoma City since 2002 (Penn and Memorial represent!) and in the Edmond/Deer Creek area since 2004.

At that time, things were pretty bleak in Edmond/north OKC when it came to craft beer. In recent years, the situation has taken an upswing, thanks in large part to The Patriarch and places like S&B, Pub W, the Garage, Skinny Slims and Republic, among others.

But what about a brewery? Through all the years, even as SB 424 was enacted, even as we pushed past more than two dozen breweries in the state... nothing in Edmond.

That will change presumably soon following the recent announcement that Frenzy Brewing Co. -- currently a brewery-in-planning that you've probably seen out at beer events -- will open up shop in Edmond.

We also know that Battered Boar is located just south of Edmond city limits, and within a year or so they will be joined in the area by Roughtail, which is re-locating to the booming Western and Memorial corridor.

So yes, things are getting better, but it's still a little disappointing that Edmond remains brewery-less.

But here's the thing: If there's anything I've come to believe from living in Edmond and going to The Patriarch, it's that Edmond is a sleeping giant when it comes to craft beer.

I'm a firm believer that Frenzy and Roughtail will open the floodgates to some kind of brewery boom in Edmond. And I feel like you just have to look at The Patriarch to understand that.

I followed the opening of that bar closely at the time, and spoke to the owners several times through the construction process. They were hopeful that their location -- just down the street from UCO -- would lead to a steady stream of customers from the college.

If you frequent The Patriarch enough, however, you know that college kids are in fact not the primary customer there -- after all, when you're slumming your way through college, the $8 glass of beer is probably not your top choice, due to budgetary constraints.

Instead, the crowd at the Patriarch -- at least to my eyes -- appears to be a 25-and-older group, and even shading more toward a 30-and-up clientele. This is a group that:

1.) Has disposable income;
2.) Enjoys leisure time;
3.) Often works in Oklahoma City and might not want to drive back downtown on a weeknight or even a weekend; and
4.) Wants Edmond to be as cool as any city in the state.

If you try to tell me this crowd won't enthusiastically embrace a local brewery in their own backyard, I will not believe you.

So that begs the question, what's the deal in Edmond? I know real estate is generally pricey in the city, so there's that. There's also the issue of meeting zoning requirements and gaining approval of the planning commission and city council. Approvals from those bodies for an alcohol-related business -- gasp! -- have not always been a sure thing due to the somewhat traditional and conservative (and let's be frank, stuffy) nature of Edmond.

But it just takes one or two trailblazers to set the new norm, and if Frenzy can bust in through the door that The Patriarch has cracked open, then look out. We could be seeing a new brewery hot-spot in Oklahoma.

SPORTS

I firmly believe Mike Gundy is terrible at picking quarterbacks. The reason, however, is not because he's a poor evaluator of talent. The reason, as far as I can see, is a combination of loyalty and stubbornness -- a combo that has backfired in the past and appears to be backfiring this season.

That being said, I think OSU fans are incorrect in making calls for Gundy to go.

Over the years, if anything, Gundy has proven he is an excellent evaluator of talent.When your recruiting classes are typically ranked anywhere from 25th to 45th in the country, yet you consistently pile up wins, that says to me you have a knack for evaluation, and also for squeezing the most talent out of who you're throwing out on the field.

Look at the stats that back this up. Over the past 10 years, OSU's average recruiting class ranking is 34.4, according to Rivals. Only twice in that stretch has OSU pulled in a class ranked in the top 30 (No. 27 in 2014 and No. 28 in 2011). More years than not, OSU's class has been ranked No. 35 or higher.

Yet look at the wins. Over that 10-year stretch, OSU actually has the 10th-best winning percentage in college football, and is just a few percentage points away from being in the top five. I would say that is outperforming your recruiting numbers by a significant margin. Again, good evaluation and coaching.

Also look at one of my favorite recent stats: Over the past three seasons (2015-17), there are only six power five teams to have recorded 10 wins each season: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, OU, Wisconsin and... OSU.

I mean, wow. When I went to OSU (1999 to 2001 football seasons), the team was 5-6, 3-8 and 4-7. That's 12 wins in three years! We had no idea what a bowl game even remotely looked like.

So clearly Gundy has been a great coach for OSU. He's brought the program to levels I certainly never expected were possible. This has pulled expectations for OSU football way up. For example, I went to the South Alabama game earlier this season, which OSU won by a score of 55-13. Yet I walked away feeling like the team was average at best.

So I get that people are pissed right now about Gundy and the OSU football team. Let me come back to that point in a minute. First, let's take a look at Gundy's questionable history of QB decisions. He's always handled the QB situation at OSU kind of oddly...

-Riding with Bobby Reid when Zac Robinson probably was the better choice (loyalty).

-Starting Alex Cate when Robinson was hurt, when clearly Brandon Weeden was more talented (loyalty).

-Starting a wobbly Robinson against OU in 2009 instead of Weeden (loyalty, maybe also some stubbornness). The Cowboys lost 27-0.

-Riding Robinson (9-for-21 passing for 44 yards and one interception, eight rushes for minus-six yards) for almost that whole Bedlam game (stubbornness).

-Sticking with an inconsistent J.W. Walsh for several games instead of Clint Chelf (loyalty).

-Riding with Daxx Garman for several losses instead of turning the offense over to Mason Rudolph (stubbornness).

-Giving Taylor Cornelius the starting job (loyalty) and then sticking with him through several frustrating losses (stubbornness).

The good news for Cowboys fans is that over the years, Gundy has generally, eventually, gotten the QB call right. And to give him a little more credit, things are complicated a little by the new four-game redshirt rule this season.

If not for that rule, we may have seen Dru Brown or Spencer Sanders already. And if Cornelius can't put points on the board against Texas tomorrow or Baylor next weekend, you probably can expect to see one or both of the aforementioned back-ups take the field for the last three games of the year.

The problem is that OSU has already lost three games and now faces a real possibility of not making a bowl game this year -- and Gundy appears to be digging in with his support of Cornelius.

Still, I'm not about to call for Gundy to go.

For me, it's pretty simple. Gundy is the best coach OSU has ever had. He's won far more than he's lost, and he's done it with less talent than other teams. OSU has been historically good by OSU standards in spite of Gundy's quirkiness with picking QBs. You can be upset about Gundy picking Cate over Weeden, or Garman over Rudolph, or Cornelius over Brown/Sanders, but you can't get around the fact that Gundy still deserves credit for the overall, unprecedented success of the program.

I just hope OSU doesn't sit out the bowl season with a more capable QB sitting on the sidelines all year.

STPMO

It used to happen right around this time of year.

Press releases would come into The Oklahoman newsroom from the city of Oklahoma City or the city of Edmond declaring which day Halloween would be observed on.

What's that you say? Why would you not celebrate Halloween on, oh I don't know, Halloween?!

Yes, this is one of my all-time peeves, when people move Halloween off of Halloween because Halloween falls on a Sunday. Thankfully, this is only a once-every-six-or-seven-years type of deal, and it won't happen this year, with Halloween falling next Wednesday.

When Halloween was about to fall on a Sunday, what was annoying was how the cities tried to pretend like they weren't moving Halloween because of religious reasons. Look, everyone gets it -- Halloween celebrates scary spirits and deathly scenes and ghastly non-religious goblins, so clearly we can't have that happen on a Sunday in Oklahoma.

The problem is that cities -- government entities -- can't declare they are moving Halloween off Sundays to respect church on account of that whole separation of church and state deal.

So they would hint at excuses like avoiding a school night. This despite the fact that the next four years (pending any leap years) of Halloween would be school nights. Or, in the case of Edmond, they would simply wait for Oklahoma City to announce its decision, and then say they, too, would move Halloween, just to fall in line with "other cities in the metro."

To be clear, this is not a peeve against religion or church. I'm just against moving Halloween and coming up with lame excuses for doing it because you know you can't state outright the real reason you're doing it.

Here's a thought: Let's just celebrate Halloween on Halloween every year and skip all the lame excuse-making.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Beer, sports and life's minor annoyances -- the blog is back

Blogger's note: Hey there. So, it's been a minute since I've posted anything on the blog -- about nine months to be exact. When I've been out and about at a brewery or beer event, people have asked what the deal was. I appreciated people asking. The reason for the hiatus was really just life kinda getting in the way -- moving to a new house, getting a new job, just having a lot going on in general. I like to think that if someone's going to take the time to read something, the author should take the time and energy to make it worth reading -- and I just wasn't able to commit to doing that. For the past few weeks, as my day-to-day has been normalizing, I've been contemplating getting back on the blogging train, and now here I am. What a great time to be taking part in the beer conversation in Oklahoma, right?! So, what will that conversation look like for me? For starters, I've opted for a different approach on the blog this time around. Each blog will be broken into three categories: Beer, sports and stuff that pisses me off. If there's anything I like as much as a well-crafted beer, it's sports and griping about life's minor annoyances, so that's what I'm going to write about. Secondly, I'm going to focus on making each post worth reading, instead of pumping out a high volume of maybe-only-somewhat-interesting content. So that will mean only two to three posts per month -- posts where I can actually deep-dive on the writing, instead of focusing on re-hashing the latest pint night calendar listings and stuff like that. All of the local bars and breweries are doing a great job promoting themselves. They can continue to do that, and I'll focus on writing about beer like I were talking about it over a couple beers. I hope you enjoy!

BEER

So I understand Oct. 1 was some kind of notable day for beer and alcohol in Oklahoma? Seriously though, we've been saddled with Prohibition-style laws since, you know, Prohibition. It's kinda refreshing and kinda crazy to think we're in a whole new era now. And there's a lot to like.

While I've picked up many Spare Ribs over the years at my local Uptown and Crest, it will definitely be nice to have regular-strength beer in my neighborhood grocery stores. I was picking up groceries at Crest recently, and was actually fairly impressed with the beer selection there. They had several local options in stock (COOP and Anthem most prominently), plus some mainline offerings like Dogfish 60 Minute and Lagunitas IPA. You could do worse if you couldn't make it to the liquor store.

The wine at Crest was decent, too. Mrs. Beagle and I have settled into a pretty good routine of always having a Bota Box on tap in the fridge, and seeing them marked down to about $17 per box was pretty exciting -- usually they run anywhere from $20 to $24 at the liquor store.

And of course it's not all about the grocery stores. Things are changing at the breweries, as we know. The No. 1 change in my opinion is that kids are now allowed. This is a great change. Anymore, going to a brewery for a drink isn't really that much different from going to grab a beer at the Buffalo Wild Wings. The biggest difference is that the breweries had been demonized by our outdated laws (there are other differences, like breweries being local companies making a great product by hand, but I digress). This means people now can patronize local establishments with the whole family, and not have to pass up on patronizing certain local establishments because you can't get a babysitter that day.

A second big win for breweries -- and consumers -- is that the brewers can keep regular bar hours now, and not have to close down or cut off sales of regular-strength beer at 9 p.m. This one's not as big as the kid-friendly deal, but on the rare occasion I can actually stay out (and stay awake) past 9 p.m., it's pretty cool to know I can incorporate the breweries into my plans.

There are other perks to our new laws as well, like bars being able to hold real happy hours, full-strength beer at street festivals, and the almost-assured addition of several new gastro breweries in the near future, among other things.

But...

Things are really gonna suck for a lot of liquor stores out there. And I say that not because I want liquor stores to fail. In fact, I've been on the record many times saying that I believe the liquor store will still be the go-to spot for good beer selection. After seeing Crest's fully-stocked selection, this is proven out. I like to try as many local breweries as I can, and with having to commit so much shelf space to BMC, Sam Adams and the like, the grocery stores will definitely fall short on the type of selection I'll ultimately be looking for. Plus, with popular beermakers like Roughtail and Angry Scotsman electing to self-distribute, there's no guarantee you'll see those brands at the grocery store.

But on the flip side of that coin, now I can get F5 and Anthem IPA at Crest, plus Bota Box, plus I can splurge on a $30 or $40 bottle of wine if I want. If I'm being purely objective, that may be the type of stuff I pick up at the liquor store on any given visit anyway. If I can get all that while I'm picking up groceries, that's a pretty appealing option.

And that's the rub for the liquor stores. We love our convenience. We hate having to make two stops when one will do. I may really want to get a diverse selection of beer, but if the selection at the grocery store will suffice, maybe I'll skip the liquor store now and again strictly on convenience grounds. And that's me -- someone who really values a varied selection. What about the person who only wants their Cupcake or Barefoot wine? That person I'd bet is not going back to the liquor store.

From there, it's a matter of simple economics. The number of liquor stores-per-capita that we have aligns with the rules that were in effect pre-SQ 792. That math is not gong to work going forward -- once a huge volume of wine sales are siphoned off the books.

It's a sad deal, but not an unexpected deal. It's why the liquor store lobby fought so hard to beat back the state question. Unfortunately, when you blow up the system, there's bound to be some collateral damage.

Moving forward, liquor stores will have to compete like all business -- on price, service and selection. I've been in stores that didn't hit on any of those criteria, and those are the stores that likely won't make it.

SPORTS

While October brought good news for beer fans, it brought relatively bad news for the Thunder. Not only are there questions about Russell Westbrook's availability due to an off-season knee scope, but it was just announced that Andre Roberson will be out another two months because of a setback in his rehab from last year's knee injury.

The Thunder really seemed to be hitting their stride right before Roberson went down, so this news is not really that great -- but it doesn't mean all is lost. I know Roberson is a menace on defense, but let's remember, I can shoot a basketball better than he can. For everything Roberson brings on the defensive end of the court, he always leaves the Thunder playing 4-on-5 on offense to some extent. And if nothing else, this allows the Thunder the chance to experiment with Dennis Schroeder in the starting lineup as a two-guard, or for someone like Terrence Ferguson to see if he can carve out a role in the starting five.

Regardless of who starts, we should expect the Thunder to be better this year, with Paul George having a full season under his belt to mesh with Westbrook and Steven Adams. For success to materialize, however, I've come up with four actions items for the Thunder for the 2018-19 season:

1. Don't give Carmelo the ball as much. Well, he's in Houston now, so problem solved! Seriously though, I'm fully in the addition-by-subtraction camp when it comes to Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder. He's an all-time talent, but he was not a fit as the third wheel behind Westbrook and George. Anytime he got the ball it was 100 percent obvious he was going to shoot -- his catch-and-wait-and-then-shoot approach ground the offense to a halt every time. When he made shots, it was OK. But Anthony has always been a volume/rhythm shooter -- it was acceptable on the Knicks when taking 30 shots a night was that team's best option. On the Thunder, not so much. Mainly he took shots away from George. Re-distributing Anthony's touches to Westbrook and George will be a plus this year.

2. Remember that Steven Adams still plays in the second half. The Thunder frequently dominated first halves last year, then almost just as frequently coughed up big leads in the second half. The common denominator in most of those games was riding Adams in the opening frames, then seemingly forgetting he was on the team after the intermission. The Thunder were 20-11 (a winning percentage of 64.5 percent) in games where Adams scored 15 or more points. They were 37-23 (61.6 percent) in games where Adams scored in double-digits. They were 48-34 on the season (58.5 percent) overall. A 15-points-per-game Adams puts the Thunder theoretically at 53-29 last season, which would have bumped them up to third in the standings instead of fourth. The key is sticking with what worked in the first half -- giving Adams a high volume of touches -- in the second half.

3. Pick up the pace after helping on the high pick-and-roll. Did it seem like the Thunder gave up a disproportionate amount of wide-open threes last season? It did to my eyes, and more often than not is was because of late rotation to the open shooter. But this was not the wing defenders' fault. As much as I gave Adams credit in the previous point, he owns the blame here. He frequently was late to retreat back to the paint after hedging to help on the high screen-and-roll. This often led to a wing defender having to dive down from the three point line to help close off the lane. The predictable drive-and-kick to the wide-open shooter followed. Adams simply needs to fall back to the paint more quickly after helping to avoid having the Thunder defense caught chasing the ball on D.

4. Find a reasonable baseline three threat. The most dominant runs in Thunder history have coincided with having either Kevin Martin or Thabo Sefalosha nailing threes from regularity from the corner. This is not rocket science. Either you have someone hitting threes, which is great, or you have someone that the defense is worried about hitting threes standing in the corner and pulling a defender out of the lane, which is also great, as it creates space for Westbrook/George to drive to the rim or for Adams to operate in the post. The key is someone has to hit some shots and establish the reputation of being a threat from that spot. My money is on Patrick Patterson to fill that role. He shot 38.6 percent from three last year, second only to George in success rate on the team, while struggling to find his role off the bench. I'd advocate starting Patterson as a floor-spacing four who spots up in the corner on offense. With rhythm and regularity, he likely can bump that percentage up a bit, which would open up the floor for the rest of the offense.

STPMO (Stuff that pisses me off)

When I was a young teenager, I would spend my summers pretty much glued to the seat of my seven-speed mountain bike. Me and a bunch of friends rode every day. We'd venture out from our suburban Toronto neighborhoods, meet up at a gas station to air up our tires and hit the road. Eight miles to the nearest park with mountain bike trails. Eighteen miles to the beach near downtown Toronto. Twenty-two miles to go go-karting in a suburb east of the city. We'd ride all day, and it was great.

I say all that to say, I have no problem whatsoever with cyclists. I don't even really mind that much if a huge pack of them is clicking along at 10 mph on the roads in northwest Oklahoma County while I have to slowly drive behind and wait for a chance to pass. But God help me I will immediately turn into the Incredible Hulk when that pack of cyclists comes up to an intersection and rolls through without stopping at the stop sign. NO!!!! You want to ride on the road at 10 mph and make me plod along behind you in my car? I am fine with that!

You are allowed to do that and I salute you for getting out to get some exercise in the fresh air. But when you come to a stop sign, now you want special treatment where you can completely disregard the rules of the road? NOOOO!!!!!! You can't have it both ways! When I'm driving in my car, I'd love to be able to glance side to side to see if cars are coming and then just roll through an intersection without stopping at the sign. It would save wear and tear on my brakes, it would save gas, it would cut down on my drive time. It would be awesome! But it also would be against the rules.

Cyclists, if you want to be on the road like all the cars, then follow the rules like all the cars. STOP AT THE STOP SIGN!

OK, deep breath. I'm done. Talk to you next time!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

What's in store for OK beer in 2018?

There's no doubt we've had a couple big years for Oklahoma craft beer.

And as we dive into 2018, it's a good time not only to reflect on what we've just seen transpire, but also to look ahead.

Both 2016 and 2017 have been transformational. It's hard to beat what we saw in 2016, when two highly significant pieces of alcohol legislation were passed, and breweries were allowed to start selling beer by the glass for on-site consumption.

And then in 2017, we started to see the immediate impact, with several new brick-and-mortar breweries opening shop and several more announcing plans for new brewery buildings.

But perhaps we haven't seen anything yet.

This next year promises to deliver historic changes to the alcohol industry in Oklahoma. Let's take a look at some predictions for Oklahoma beer in 2018.

The brewery boom is just beginning

By the end of 2018, we should be floating around at least 15 brewery/taprooms in the OKC metro area alone. We've got two breweries in McCurtain County. We've got a brewery in Ponca City and one in Pryor. The freight train that is the taproom business is moving forward at full steam right now. Statewide, we should pretty easily get to 30 brewery/taprooms by the end of 2018, and don't be surprised if by the end of 2019 we're at 50. Of course, the real question will be this: Will the beer be any good? I've shared this sentiment before, but with how restrictive Oklahoma's alcohol laws were, and how much money was required to start a production brewery, only serious players -- and generally really good beermakers -- got involved prior to 2016. Now the barriers to the market are as low as they've ever been. Craft beer history around the U.S. tells us we will see some fly-by-night operators whose beer is average at best.

Who'll join the Brewers Union?

The brewing cooperative formerly known as OK City Brewing appears to be primed for a good run in the first half of 2018, with quality beer coming from Elk Valley, Angry Scotsman and Vanessa House. But with all three brewers looking to move into their own buildings this year, who'll slide in to take their places in the Brewers Union when they leave? Will it be a brewery-in-planning like Frenzy or Skydance? Or someone we haven't heard of yet? There's a chance things may get rocky for the co-op in the latter part of 2018.

The next frontier: Beer and food together

Part of the new law going into effect on Oct. 1 will be a new brewpub license. Think Bricktown Brewery and Belle Isle Brewery, but if they made high-point beer. Think Republic Gastropub, but with a brewhouse in the back. It'll be exciting to see what new concepts will emerge, but you can count on a brewery incorporating high-end pub food for a full food-and-drink experience.

What exactly will grocery stores carry?

Cheap wine. That's the easy part. A liquor store owner once told me that what he feared most about alcohol reform was grocery and convenience stores gaining access to the market for $8 to $15 wine. Well, we know they'll stock plenty of that, but how about beer? I predict we'll be decidedly underwhelmed by the beer selection at grocery and convenience stores come Oct. 1. There will be plenty of BMC mainline stuff, some Sam Adams, probably a little bit of Boulevard and a lot of the crafty brews spun off by the BMC crowd. But for the good stuff, the liquor store will still be a required stop.

Will ABI make a play in Oklahoma?

There's no reason to think Anheuser Busch will curtail its practice of scooping up craft breweries, but can we expect to see that happen in Oklahoma? We saw a few rumors swirl about local buyouts in 2017, but in the end there was no real smoke and certainly no fire. In reality, there are only a couple state breweries that fit the profile of an AB-takeover target. That's mainly based on production volume, and most likely only COOP and Prairie fit that bill. Would either of those companies sign a deal with the craft beer devil? Most likely they won't get the chance in 2018 as AB focuses not only on other, even larger craft breweries, but also on rolling out high-point beer throughout Oklahoma.

Do you have a prediction for Oklahoma beer in 2018? I'd love to hear it -- post in the comments or on my Facebook page.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

New brewery set for opening in northeast Oklahoma

If you subscribe to the theory that these days a taproom could pop up almost anywhere in Oklahoma, then what is happening this Saturday certainly delivers on that theory.

The first modern brewery and taproom in the city of Pryor in northeastern Oklahoma is set to open to the public this weekend.

Fat Toad Brewing will open its doors from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday for its grand opening event. You can see more details on that here.

I was able to catch up with David Miller, a long-time Pryor resident and also the co-owner and director of brewing operations for Fat Toad Brewing, to learn a little bit about his brewing history and his taproom plans.

Check it out...

Thirsty Beagle: Tell all the beer fans out there about your brewing background -- how did you get into beermaking, and why did you decide you wanted to open a brewery and taproom? Why the name Fat Toad? And why Pryor? Are you from there?

David Miller: I have lived in Pryor for over 25 years (moved here as teenager) and have worked for the school system for many years. Our home is here and I have two teenage sons, so opening a brewery in a bigger city was not an option. Plus we want to support our local economy and give back in some way. We decided to open a brewery/taproom because I’m not able to get into things or even have a hobby without trying to push it as far as I can (see my failed music career years ago and aspirations to play on the senior PGA tour! Ha ha.) Anyway, I had been brewing out of my garage on a homemade 10-barrel system for several years just to see if I could make some of the great beer styles I had enjoyed in Michigan, Kansas City, Tulsa, etc., mostly at professional baseball games.

As the beers improved we started taking them to beer festivals and sharing with friends. Feedback was favorable. About that time my friend and neighbor Chris Harrison kept stopping by the garage and showing interest in what I was doing. He helped me brew a few times and we began to discuss, with our wives, the prospect of starting a small brewery with a taproom in Pryor and possibly distributing later on if things worked out. I started obsessively studying every brewing text I could get my hands on in order to prepare to brew on a bigger scale. Chris is a mechanical genius, which I am not, and also has very good business sense. This was a natural fit. From there, we saw a commercial building come available in rural Pryor, only a couple miles from my house; ordered our one-barrel electric system, along with some 85-gallon fermenters; Chris engineered a big-league chilling system; and we started brewing big batches and working on licensing and approval from ABLE commission and the TTB. Our wives were supportive and took on roles within the business and the rest was history.

As for the Fat Toad name, my wife suggested it over a family meal at Freddy’s Hamburgers after a baseball game a few years ago. I recalled hearing the phrase back in the 90s when Yankees owner George Steinbrenner referred to his Japanese pitcher, the late Hideki Irabu, as a “Fat Toad.” We all smiled and decided right there that was the name. Obviously we don’t take ourselves too seriously, so we felt like a happy image of a Fat Toad would make people smile!

TB: How about beer philosophy and recipes? What should people expect in terms of styles and approach to the beers?

DM: Regarding recipe philosophy, I am a beer fan first and foremost, so brewing what I like to drink is where I start. I want to brew many styles because I enjoy many styles. The smaller brewhouse allows us to do that. I tend to prefer hoppier beers, but I respect the fact that not everyone does, so I brew a variety of styles to accommodate that. My philosophy is that if we don’t think it is an excellent beer, we don’t put it on tap. Simple as that. It may not be your favorite style now, but in the craft beer world, if you keep an open mind, you acquire a taste for different styles over time. People can expect a wide range of styles from light and dark German wheat beer to Saison, to hoppy IPAs and an American Red Ale, which is essentially a hoppy amber or a red IPA, not sure yet. Ha ha! Also I’m a huge brown ale fan and am very proud of our brown ale along with the hazelnut version of the same beer, which was very well received at brewfests this past year.

TB: How about distribution? Will you have beer available outside of the taproom?

DM: As of now we don’t have the keg capacity or large enough brewhouse/fermenters to distribute, but definitely want to do this as we move forward. For now we want people to come inside the taproom and actually talk and visit about beer experiences they’ve had, sports, life, etc. We even have one of the only rural beer gardens in the state complete with trees and cattle in the distance!

TB: Speaking of the taproom, talk a little bit about your building. What kind of vibe are you going for?

DM: Our taproom is really a one-of-a-kind eclectic place that you have to experience for yourself. It is somewhat rural although the Google campus and Walmart are within half a mile from our front door. Pryor is a blue-collar sort of city so we went with rusted tin and stained pallet wood throughout the taproom. Chris handmade many of the tables from commercial telephone line spools and wood he had laying around. Americana might be a good way to describe the atmosphere at the Fat Toad taproom. Our television (retro movies or sports) and music even reflects that: plenty of the late Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Stapleton, Turnpike Troubadours etc.

TB: Lastly, talk about the beer community/culture in northeastern Oklahoma. Do you feel like that is an underserved market? Do you think craft beer resonates in Pryor, Oklahoma?

DM: We feel like this is the most exciting time in our state's history to get involved with craft beer! Green Country is definitely underserved, but no less passionate and knowledgeable than Tulsa, OKC, and the metro areas. We have visited, toured, filled growlers, etc., at all Tulsa and many OKC breweries, as well as northwest Arkansas, which is an excellent brew scene. We are directly between Tulsa and northwest Arkansas and want our community to have the experiences that we enjoyed at these places.