The Thirsty Beagle: May 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Roughtail ready for launch of new flagship IPA

Tony Tielli is excited.

And that's saying something. Tielli, the brewmaster and co-founder of Roughtail Brewing Co., is typically a pretty even-keeled guy.

But I could sense his excitement as he described the latest big development for Roughtail -- a re-boot of their flagship Roughtail IPA.

As it turns out, the original Roughtail IPA is not the beer Tielli had always envisioned as the company's flagship. I could explain more, but I'll let Tielli take it from here.

"When we first started Roughtail, we knew that we wanted to make our IPA our flagship beer, but we also knew that we had to balance that with being able to sustainably source ingredients for it as a brand new brewery," he said. "The hop market is growing by leaps and bounds but it just can’t keep pace with the overall craft beer market’s growth.

"Demand for the most aromatic, most popular, and most unique varieties outpaces supply year after year. In order to secure any quantity of some of the hops you have to contract to buy them years in advance.

"We decided to make Roughtail IPA the best IPA we could using hops that were available to us at the time, even though as brewers we knew there were other varieties out there that we would really love to use one day.

"Now that the brewery is two years old, our access to a broad range of aromatic and unique hops has grown dramatically. We decided it was time to re-boot our flagship beer as the beer we have always wanted it to be, but before now were simply unable to make. We have combined everything we’ve learned over the past two years with some new brewing techniques that we’re really liking, and a blend of hops that we are totally excited about.

"The new Roughtail IPA is brewed using a new strain of clean fermenting yeast that lets the hop flavor and aroma really shine, a neutral malt profile that provides just enough support for the hops and a heavy dose of Simcoe, Citra, Centennial, Summit, and Columbus hops.

"We haven’t been this excited since we put Hoptometrist in cans for the first time; this is finally the Roughtail IPA we’ve always wanted to make."

Tielli said the first batches will have a "5/28/15" date on the four pack, and should be available in stores as early as this weekend. The packaging will remain the same. He said any cans or kegs produced after May 21 will be the new recipe.

I always say, you can never have too many good IPAs.

Pints and Pins

-The Made in Oklahoma Wine, Beer and Food Festival is Saturday in Midwest City. I understand there will be local beer and wine available for sampling.

-Today at 5 p.m. at Oak & Ore: Anthem Bourbon Barrel Golden One release party.

-Marshall Brewing Co. has a series of Arrowhead Pale Ale release parties on the docket.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Evil Twin, Stillwater Artisanal among new brews headed to Oklahoma

It appears the good times will continue to roll for the Oklahoma craft beer scene.

That's thanks to news that popular beermakers like Evil Twin Brewing of Brookyn, N.Y., and Stillwater Artisanal of Baltimore, Md., could arrive in Oklahoma as early as July through a brokerage founded by former Jenks BierGarten owner Freddy Lamport.

Lamport, whose knowledge of craft beer brands might be surpassed only by the proliferation of his Facebook posts, sold his interest in the BierGarten in April so he could concentrate full-time on starting up his Owasso-based brokerage, Craft & Barrel.

Lamport said the vision of his companny is "bringing hardcore craft beer to Oklahoma." Other beers he said he's excicted about are Ominpollo, of Sweden; Off Color Brewing, of Chicago; and Against the Grain Brewing, of Louisville, Ky.

The door may even be open in late 2015 or early 2016 for collab beers from well-known brewers Westbrook and Crooked Stave.

The crown jewel will be Evil Twin, though, where Lamport expects to bring in as many as 13 beers in bottles and on tap by the first week of July.

He said almost all beers he imports will arrive in the state in limited quantities, but most significant releases will be accompanied by special pint nights at select pubs and bars.

You can follow Craft & Barrel on its FB page, right here.

Pints and Pins

-Marshall Brewing will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Friday for tours and samples, including samples of its fresh batch of Arrowhead Pale Ale.

-Mustang will be pouring beer at this weekend's Paseo Arts Festival. You can find more information on their FB page. Now if only Mother Nature would cooperate.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wrapping up OKC Craft Beer Week

So how is everyone?

Are your livers and other vital organs significantly recovered from the awesomeness that was Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week?

I hope they are, and I hope everyone really enjoyed the week. Sometimes when I sit back and think about the craft beer scene here in Oklahoma, it really blows my mind.

I started blogging on Oklahoma craft beer in 2008, and I think if you showed 2015 Oklahoma craft beer to 2008 Oklahoma craft beer, 2008 would get scared and go cower in the corner, overwhelmed by the sheer craziness of how far we've come.

I get that we still have a long way to go, and hopefully with signficant alcohol law reform we will get there, but if you just started following Oklahoma craft beer, you just don't know how good you have it.

Back in 2008, I used to have to walk eight miles, in the snow and uphill both ways, to get a good local craft beer. Seriously, when I started blogging, Choc, Marshall and Huebert were Oklahoma's only operational high-point craft brewers.

Today, we have at least 15 commercial brewers/breweries -- by my quick count -- and that represents a 500 percent increase in less than seven years. Is that math right? Either way, not too shabby. And you can't forget about all the big-name breweries that have come to the state in the past few years, from Goose Island and Green Flash to Founders and Lagunitas.

And of course, you can't forget our local venues. After the brewers, it was the venues that were the stars of OKC Craft Beer Week. When I started blogging, you pretty much had TapWerks and McNellie's as craft-beer-forward destinations. Seeing the Wedge embrace craft beer has been great. Seeing what Oak & Ore did over the week was outstanding. And near and dear to my heart, and northwest Oklahoma County home, seeing The Patriarch open up shop and Pub W locate on Memorial Road and embrace craft beer week were great boosts for a typically underserved area.

Lastly, I have to mention Saturday's fifth annual Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival. For the first time, the festival was held indoors -- moved to the Cox Convention Center when rain and storms threatened to wash the fest out of the parkng lot next to TapWerks. I can't say enough good things about the venue. While the inside of the Cox Center may lack some of the ambiance of an outdoor festival, you can't deny how the ceiling of the building helped trap energy in and direct it back down to the beer floor. I felt a buzz as soon as I walked in the door -- it just felt like a special event. The flow of traffic I felt was better as well. I never had to wait long in line for a beer and found it easy to move from table to table -- unlike last year's fest.

As I moved about the hall, I made a point to ask all the brewers what they thought. Everyone I spoke to said they appreciated the indoor venue. They appreciated being out of the sun and wind. They said it had a more professional feel -- in line with other beer fests around the country. Overall, I think it was a great move, and one that leaves even more room for expansion and growth.

So, in summation, the week showed we have a lot of good beer momentum. Let's keep this thing going!

Pints and Pins

-Marshall Brewing announced that its summer seasonal Arrowhead Pale Ale will be released Thursday in Okahoma and Arkansas. In addition, a release party is set for 5 p.m. May 29 at McNellie's Tulsa-South.

-Did you know that this year's Wild Brew beer tasting event is set for Aug. 22? Early-bird (pun intended) tickets are on sale through June 5.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

So what's up with Lagunitas distribution?

I got an email yesterday inquiring about the roll-out of Lagunitas beer in Oklahoma.

The question: What's the deal with Lagunitas' distribution in the state with regards to kegs vs. package sales? Fortunately, a reliable source recently conveyed some information to me on that very topic.
First, though, would you mind if we talked about Lagunitas IPA for a minute?

I stopped by Republic on Monday -- doing my Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week duty -- to check out the Lagunitas pint night. I have had Lagunitas IPA in bottles during my annual summer/Walt Disney World travels, and have always been a fan of the beer.

Having it on tap, though? It took the beer to a whole new level. Maybe the bottles I had enjoyed previously have never been as fresh, and maybe the pint I had at Republic was especially fresh, but that pint pushed Lagunitas IPA high up the list of my favorite IPAs.

The hops were so crisp and clean -- everythig was on point and the beer was far more enjoyable than I remembered.

So, point being, is it worth trying on tap when you're out at your local spot? Yes.

But moving on, what about distribution? My source tells me Lagunitas kegs will be the norm for the next couple months, and that we can expect a roll-out of bottles in liquor stores in the summer, possibly around July.

And we should expect to see a wide array of Lagunitas offerings, including seasonals and special releases. Plenty to look forward to.

Pints and Pins

-The Beer is OK podcast from the Red Earth Brewers Oklahoma Brewers Forum has been posted for your enjoyment. The podcast is a recording of the brewers panel I moderated with Roughtail brewmaster Tony Tielli and Anthem brewmaster Patrick Lively. You can listen right here.

-Most of our other beer news this week involves OKC Craft Beer Week events, so here's your schedule for Thursday -- it's an impressive collection of events:

Craft Beer Tasting Party and Pizza Buffet @ Empire Slice - 7 p.m.
Anthem Brewing Tour and Tasting @ Anthem Brewing Co. - 5 p.m.
COOP Ale Works 2012 Territorial Reserve Oak-Aged Barley Wine tapping @ TapWerks - 6 p.m.
Greenflash Silva Stout tapping @ TapWerks - 8 p.m.
Anthem Tap Invasion @ Oak & Ore
Prairie Tap Takeover and Dinner Pairing @ Saints Pub
North Coast Pint Night @ Republic Gastropub - 5 p.m.
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout Pint Night @ Pub W-Memorial Road
Mustang Tap Takeover @ Fox & Hound-Memorial Road
Roughtail/Spiegelau IPA Glass Night @ The Patriarch
Roughtail Brewing Infused Polar Night Stout Pint Night @ McNellie's-OKC

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

You, too, can convert your wife into an IPA drinker

Like most self-respecting, normal and totally well-adjusted people, I love IPAs.

After all, what beer style is better at showcasing creativity and flair than the IPA? I know that malt and yeast, and even water, all play a role in the taste of beer. But for my money, nothing gives a beer that certain je ne sais quoi like the hops.

There are so many hops, and adding them to the beer in different combinations, at different times in the brewing process, and in different amounts can yield a billion taste profiles.

So of course, what better beer than the IPA to really drive home the uniqueness of craft beer?

Given my choice, I would buy all the IPAs and brew all the IPAs when I'm making my own beer. Except for one little wrinkle. My wife, the lovely Mrs. Beagle, didn't like IPAs and their intriguing bitterness.

So when I was at the store picking up beverages for the weekend, or at the homebrew shop deciding what ingredients to scoop up, many times I found myself leaning away from IPAs.

Until recently. Two key developments have swung Mrs. Beagle to the hop side of the force.

It started innocently enough with a batch of pale ale homebrew I made and a four-pack of Elk Valley Pale Ale. The Mrs. was swayed by the pleasant citrusy dry hops in the beers, and it led her to wonder if maybe she had been missing out by not having more pale ales. She challenged me to join her on a pale ale exploration journey -- a challenge I gladly accepted, because, pale ales, right?

I sensed this as my opportunity to turn her. The lupulin door had been cracked, we just needed to push it open all the way. I knew I had to turn to a weapon I once had decried -- the session IPA.

A couple years ago I wrote an unflattering blog post about session IPAs. The point, to sum up, was "why waste my time with a junior version of the IPA." After all, I argued, bitterness is what makes an IPA an IPA, so what good is an IPA that strips out the bitterness to clear the way for a lower alcohol content?

Admittedly, I had not had enough good session IPAs at that point. Now, I'm a session IPA convert. I won't sidebar too long on that point, other than to say that I've really come to enjoy and appreciate session IPAs.

And so I started sharing all the session IPAs I could find with my wife: All Day, Pop-Up, Goose Island, Spare Rib.

One night at Oak & Ore, I knew I had succeeded in my quest. I was sipping Anthem's IPA and offered Mrs. Beagle a taste. She liked it. That, I said, is a real-deal, full-fledged IPA. The other night, we split a COOP F5. She enjoyed it. This was big.

Needless to say, this is an exciting time for me. I like IPAs, Mrs. Beagle like IPAs. We all like IPAs! You, too, can get your significant other on board. Just remember to make it a slow progression. Be deliberate, choose the right beers. Rely on the proven trajectory of pale ales and session IPAs.

May the hops be with you.

(Sorry, been watching a lot of Star Wars lately.)

Pints and Pins

-In a much-anticipated move, The Patriarch Craft Beer House & Lawn will hold its grand opening today starting at 3 p.m. Reviews from their soft launch over the weekend have been positive, so be sure to swing by if you're in the Edmond area.

-Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week is off to a fine start. On Sunday, I attended the Red Earth Brewers' Oklahoma Brewers Former at DC on Film Row. I moderated a panel discussion with brewmasters Tony Tielli of Roughtail and Patrick Lively of Anthem, and that was a great discussion. The dialogue was recorded by Beer is OK -- you should check them out when they post the podcast.

-So what's coming up today for OKC Craft Beer Week? Glad you asked:
Wedge Local Beer Party @ The Wedge Deep Deuce - 7 p.m.
Left Hand Brewing Barrel Aged Wake Up Dead tapping @ TapWerks Ale House - 6 p.m.
Mustang Brewing Co. Brandy's Imperial Sunday tapping @ TapWerks Ale House - 8 p.m.
Marshall Brewing Tap Invasion @ Oak & Ore
Anthem Meet the Brewer @ Republic Gastropub - 5 p.m.
COOP Raspberry Saison Pint Night @ Pub W-Memorial Road

-Tickets for the crown jewel of OKC Craft Beer Week -- the Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival -- are nearly sold out. You can grab yours right here.

-The new BJCP guidelines have been released.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Enjoy OKC Craft Beer Week, stay informed

We are officially one day away from the beginning of Oklahoma City Craft Beek 2015, which is good.

Of course, we're also one day away from this, too:

You know the drill: Stay informed about your local weather situation. Check in with your favorite weatherman or zoo/exotic animal keeper, especially if you do decide to take on an OKC Craft Beer Week event on Saturday. The marquee event for Saturday is the LOCAL Craft Beer Block Party and Chili Cook-Off at noon at Mustang Brewing Co. I'll keep you posted as event organizers provide event updates.

And speaking of being informed, be sure to check the Oklahoma Craft Beer Week page on this here blog to see the most updated events listings. A couple events have been dropped from the sked, while a couple have been added as of last night.

In addition, you'll note more specific beer listings for TapWerks -- hello COOP Ale Works 2012 Territorial Reserve Oak-Aged Barley Wine tapping on Thursday! -- so check daily for updates throughout the week before planning out your beer schedule.

Pints and Pins

-Tickets are going fast for the fifth annual Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival at TapWerks on May 16. Latest word is that there remains less than 200 tix for each the early and late session. You can get your tickets right here.

-The menu has been revealed for the Black Mesa Beer Dinner at Wednesday at The Tasting Room, 4322 N Western Ave. Here you go:

-Marshall Brewing reports that kegs of Klaus Hefeweizen should hit the market soon. This is one of my favorite hefeweizens, local or otherwise.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

See the full Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week schedule

I've been slowly releasing all the events for Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week, but of course it would be easier to have all the events listed in one place so you can see the whole week in its full glory.

Well, wait no more:

As Ron Burgandy would say, drink it in, it always goes down smooth.

We have a great lineup for you this year. I want to give an early shout-out to the brewers and to all the different venues that are hosting events -- notably TapWerks and Oak & Ore, who are hosting events pretty much every night of the week. Also a tip o' the cap to the folks at Quality Beverage, who have been helping pull together some of these events as well.

As it says on the flier, some events may be subject to change. It's best to call ahead to your venue to check on time and ticket availability -- although almost all the events are free to attend. You would just need to pay for your beer, of course.

So get out there, OKC beer fans, and let's support our local brewers and beer-friendly venues. I'll be at several of the events -- including serving as moderator of the brewers panel at Sunday's Red Earth Brewers Oklahoma Beer Forum -- so feel free to stop by and say hello.

Pints and Pins

-Mustang Brewing announced today they will be pouring beer at this year's Paseo Arts Festival, which is set for Memorial Day weekend.

-Here's a blog post from Prairie Artisan Ales about their Prairie Somewhere.

-Here's some info on The Wedge's Local Beer Party on May 12 during OKC Craft Beer Week. This is a great event -- definitely worth attending if you've not been to one.

-And here's more info on the aforementioned Oklahoma Brewers Forum this Sunday. The event is open only to members of the Red Earth Brewers and other participating homebrew clubs. Here's the great part: For what you would pay for a Red Earth Brewers membership, attendance at this event will be a steal of a deal.

-Here's a neat article about growing hops at home.

-"The great beer writer Michael Jackson once compared Saccharomyces to a dog and brett to a cat.Saccharomyces is trainable, usually predictable and comes back to you when called, while brett will run away when it feels like and will probably scratch you when you pick it up." How can you not like that quote? If you agree, read this.