The Thirsty Beagle: July 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

It's Beer Label Friday, Vol. 3

Happy Friday, y'all! We've seen another wild week of beer label from our Oklahoma brewers. Let's take a look at what's been going on:

First, we have what I believe is the first non-kegged offering from Norman's (405) Brewing, Grapefruit Sour:

If you've not had this one, it's worth picking up -- especially for these hot, dog days of summer. Really refreshing beer. They're targeting a mid-August release for these 750 ml bottles.

Next, we've got another impressive round of labels from Elk Valley, who apparently is brewing around the clock. Fist off, we have two bottled offerings -- 2015 Experimental Imperial IPA and Le Ferme Farmhouse Ale:

Next, more cans, including a cousin to Summer Ale, Lake Ale, Mashie Scottish Style Ale and Schank Berliner Style Weisse Ale: 

And finally from Elk Valley, we have a keg collar for Par 3 IPA, presumably ahead of its debut at next Thursday's IPA Day celebration at TapWerks:

We also have an offering from Mustang, out of its renewed production partnership with Choc Beer Co.:

And finally, in the spirit of inclusiveness, there's this new offering from Huebert Brewing:

That's a nice collection, for sure. Just a word of caution on labels -- and you may have heard me say this before, but it's worth repeating -- the approval of a label by the feds does not pinpoint a release date, or even guarantee the beer will make it market. But they're neat to look at and daydream about.

Pints and Pins

-Mustang Brewing's tap room is open today from 4 to 7 p.m. They'll have a special keg of Peach IPA hooked up for pints and growler fills.

-Marshall Brewing is open until 7 p.m. today for pints and growler fills, featuring the new beer 6th Street Wit.

-Roughtail is open for pints and growlers -- featuring a new Session IPA -- from 4 to 10 p.m. today and from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

TapWerks touts outstanding lineup for IPA Day

The annual international IPA Day is set for next Thursday, Aug. 6, and TapWerks will be showing out once again with a great lineup of local IPAs.

There are so many beers on tap, in fact, that TapWerks General Manager Greg Powell is planning a special four-wave roll-out.

Check out the sked:

5 p.m. offerings

-Marshall Session Series Oatmeal IPA
ABV: 4.0
IBU: 48
Hops: Citra, Chinook, Centennial
Dry-hopped: Citra, Chinook, Centennial

-Elk Valley Par 3 IPA
ABV: 4.8
IBU: 45
Hops: Summit, Crystal

-Anthem Brett Session IPA
ABV: 5.5
IBU: 55
Hops: Nelson, Wakatu, Mosaic
Yeast: Brett Brux

-Tallgrass Brewing 8-Bit Firkin

-Mustang TBD #1

6 p.m. offerings

-Anthem Farmhouse DIPA
ABV: 8.5
Hops: Galaxy
Yeast: American Farmhouse Blend

-Bricktown Brewery Bourbon Oak Aged Peach IPA
IBU: 70
Hops: Columbus, Centennial, Cascade, Czech Saaz
Dry Hopped: Cascade

-Roughtail Not Your Mom’s IPA
American IPA
ABV: 7.0
IBU: 85
Hops: Citra, Mosaic, Summit

-COOP Double Dry-Hopped F5
ABV: 6.8
IBU: 100+
Second dry-hopping with Simcoe, Centennial, Amarillo

-Choc TBD

7 p.m. offerings

-Marshall Tough Love
West Coast IPA
ABV: 7.0
IBU: 72
Hops: Amarillo, Azacca, Bravo, Cascade, Chinook, Citra

-COOP Apricot Alpha Hive IIPA
Imperial IPA brewed with Orange Blossom Honey and Apricot
ABV: 9.1
IBU: 100+
Hops: Columbus, Falconer’s Flight, Citra

-Iron Monk White IPA
ABV: 6.9
IBU: 70
Hops: Citra, Bravo, El Dorado

Elk Valley Pale Gone IPA
ABV: 6.6
IBU: 86
Hops: Galaxy, Motueka

-405 Brewing STU
ABV: 7.6
IBU: 109
Hops: Chinook, Simcoe, Centennial, Amarillo

8 p.m. offerings

-COOP Dorados Locos Cerveza IIPA
ABV: 8.0
IBU: 100+
Hops: Columbus, Mosaic, Citra, Falconer's Flight, El Dorado in flavor and aroma additions

-Prairie Wes Coast IIPA
Brewed with grapefruit and named after Wes Morrison, Prairie’s brand ambassador
ABV: 9.5
IBU: 75
Hops: Amarillo

-Anthem Imperial Rye IPA
ABV: 9.5
Hops: Summit, Cascade
Yeast: California Ale

-Roughtail You Look Like I Need a Double IPA
ABV: 9.0
IBU: 100+
Hops: Galaxy, Simcoe, El Dorado

-Mustang TBD #2

Holy cow. I may need an extension on my bank account and my liver for all that hoppy goodness.

Pints and Pins

-It's July, so it must be time for Oktoberfest beers! No joke, the first Oktoberfest event of the year is approaching. COOP is holding an Oktoberfest release party from 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 8 at their taproom/brewery, 4745 Council Heights Road. And, word is their Oktoberfest will be available in cans this year.

-And speaking of Oktoberfest, the 25th annual Choctaw Oktoberfest is set for Sept. 4-12 this year.

-A COOP beer dinner is scheduled for this Thursday at McNellie's-Tulsa.  Five course paired with five beers. The cost is $60. Email for reservations.

-Marshall is debuting a new low-point beer this Friday during its weekly pint/growler session. Sixth Street Wit is a Belgian-style witbier brewed with coriander, fresh lemon, lime, and orange peel.

-Here's the food truck schedule for the rest of the week at The Patriarch:
       -Wednesday: MT Express.
       -Thursday: Klemm's Smoke Haus.
       -Friday: I Don't Know & I Don't Care and live music from Lauren Cowherd & Roger Kimball.
       -Saturday: Lunch - Taste of Soul Egg Rolls. Dinner - MOB Grill, and live music from Chase               Haberland

Friday, July 24, 2015

It's Beer Label Friday, Vol. 2

I've got a whole mess of beer labels to throw your way today -- exciting stuff!

Let's dive right in and get started with some good stuff from Elk Valley Brewing Co. Have you been thinking you'd like to see pretty much all of Elk Valley's beers -- plus a couple that haven't been released yet -- in cans?

If yes, then check out all these can label designs approved by federal regulators this month:

I mean, wow. I reached out to Elk Valley brewmaster John Elkins to get an ETR (estimated time of release) for these 12 oz., canned offerings, and he said we will likely first see Pale Ale, Coffee Nemesis, Nemesis and Par 3 IPA, maybe in as early as three weeks. The other two, Midnight Ryed and Brother Dave's will likely be more toward the fall.

A few labels from Mustang Brewing Co. have also been approved by the feds. This first one is a keg collar for what appears to be a low-point pale ale:

I would look for that on tap at the brewery soon. Other than that, there were a few more notable postings:

You might think, "What's the big deal? These aren't new releases." And you'd be right to think that. What's interesting to me is the wording on the far right of the bottle label: "Mustang Beer Company. Krebs, OK."

I checked with officials from Choc and they confirm they are indeed doing some brewing and bottling for Mustang. And Mustang President Tim Schoelen told me they reached out to Choc to use their bottling line in an effort to cut down on capital costs at Mustang's Oklahoma City brewery. Schoelen said they do have a bottling line in-house that they will use for 22 oz. bottles.

Pints and Pins

-COOP has a beer dinner planned for next Thursday at McNellie's Tulsa-South. You can see the menu and details below:

Email for reservations or more information.

-Oak & Ore is hiring bar staff. Email if you are passionate about beer and would like to work there.

-I covered so much news in Wednesday morning's blog post -- if you're looking for an upcoming event, read this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Oklahoma beer scene buzzing yet again

How about a huge amount of local beer news for your consumption? Let's do this!!!

-Today is the day! Sharknado Marathon and pint night at Roughtail Taphouse.

Here are the specifics: For $8, you get a pint of the special Sharknado beer, called Tiburónado -- a red double IPA with blood orange -- and a pint glass of your choice to keep. The Taphouse will open at 3:45 p.m. and show all three Sharknado movies, starting with "Sharknado" at 4 p.m., "Sharknado 2: The Second One" and 6 p.m., and "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!" at 8 p.m. Let me just say this: Get your Twitter game on fleek, because nobody loves Sharknado night like Twitter.

-An interesting beer will be served up during Marshall's Firkin Friday event this week. At 4 p.m. they'll be tapping a firkin of Dry Hopped Oat IPA, featuring Chinook, Citra and Centennial hops. They'll also be open from noon to 7 p.m. for growler fills of Volks Pils, Mosaic Pale, Nelson Pale, English Mild, English Mild (cask) and Lil Belg.

-Big news from Anthem Brewing: Their taproom is now open from noon to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays for growler fills and merchandise sales. Pretty cool development there, as we move closer to traditional brewery tap rooms in Oklahoma.

-Speaking of Anthem, they are hosting a yoga session at the brewery on Saturday. The bad news? The class filled up within minutes of registration opening. Fear not, though, this is expected to be a regular offering. On a side note, the teacher will be Oklahoma City's own Brooke Alkire. In the beer community, she's known by her Instagram handle, @beeryoga. Give her a follow.

-Thinking of heading out to the Great American Beer Festival this year? Public tickets go on sale July 29. More info available at

-Yours truly entered an IPA in the Red Earth Brewers latest homebrew competition, and the results are in! Sadly, however, I did not place in the top two. I haven't received my score sheet yet, but clearly, all the judges are terrible people. Just kidding! Here are the winners:

American Ales:1st - Matt Gore
2nd - Beau Salois

American IPAs:
1st - Beth Conner
2nd - Beau Salois

Specialty IPAs:
1st - Chad Medford
2nd - Bradford Sullivan

Best of Show:
1st - Chad Medford (Belgian IPA)
2nd - Beth Conner
3rd - Matt Gore

Despite its lack of critical success, I'm still a big fan of my IPA, which features four different hops, including a dry-hopping dose of El Dorado. In fact, I was drinking one when I wrote this post:

-Neat hop substitution chart right here for all the homebrewers out there.

-I recently tried Stillwater Stateside Saison and Evil Twin Yin & Yang:

Very impressed with both beers. I remarked to Mrs. Beagle that if I were to make my own saison, I wouldn't mind at all if it tasted just like Stateside. I feel like some saisons smack you over the head with Belgian yeast flavor and become too sweet and fruity, but this beer delivered just the right amount. Yin & Yang? That right there is a dangerous beer. Eminently drinkable and intriguing, but packing a punch at 10% ABV. I could find trouble with that beer as my wingman.

-Some news from Dead Armadillo Brewing: The city of Tulsa has approved a requested zoning change, and they now expect an imminent start to brewing in their Tulsa facility. Can't wait to score some more of their tasty Amber Ale.

-Voting is open for the Gazette's annual Best of OKC contest, and there are a couple beer-centric categories: Best Local Craft Beer (Anthem, Bricktown, COOP, Mustang, Prairie) and Best Beer Selection (McNellie's, Oak & Ore, Republic, TapWerks, The Patriarch). I'm not trying to get all "When I was a kid I walked eight miles to school, in the snow, uphill both ways" with you here, but let me tell you this: When I started this blog, seven of those 10 entities didn't exist. We've come a long way in our beer game, folks.

-Here's the food truck schedule for the rest of the week at The Patriarch:

Wednesday: Flying Pig BBQ
Thursday: M.O.B. Grill
Friday: Big O's BBQ OKC
Saturday (lunch): St. Paddy Cakes
Saturday (dinner): MT Express
Sunday: OKC Street Eats

-COOP Ale Works is pushing the envelope on self-distribution. They're now offering six packs of their 3.2 beer (two Negative Splits, two Spare Ribs and two Briefcase Browns), for sale at the brewery from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

-Bonus point: I just got back from Walt Disney World (again), because apparently going to Walt Disney World only one time in the summer is not enough. Anyway, I won't bore you with the details, but wanted to share this fun picture:

That's an Orlando Brewing I-4 IPA that I enjoyed at Animal Kingdom. And of course when you see a sign like that, you have to take advantage of it. Disney has done a nice job stepping up its food and drink game the last few years, and it's great to a see a local craft beer on tap at the parks.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Homebrewers' Corner with the Red Earth Brewers -- Part 2

I'm turning the blog back over to Red Earth Brewers member Sean McCanne today for part two of his guest post covering an introduction to homebrewing.

If you missed part one, you can read it here.

Now let's pick up where we left off. Take it away Sean!

4. All-grain brewing 


-Liquor: Not the type you drink in this case, liquor refers to the water used for brewing. It can be hot for the mash or cold for chilling.

-Mash tun: The cooler or other vessel that you soak your grain in for the mash

-Vorlauf: Draining liquor off the mash, then adding it back in to the mash at the top -- this helps clarify the wort and set the grain bed

-Sparge: Draining hot wort off the mash into your pot for boiling

-Efficiency: The amount of sugar you extract from the grain during the mash as a percentage of how much sugar is actually available. Higher efficiency means more sugar in the wort from the same amount of grain in the mash.

-Fly Sparge: Draining hot wort off the mash while also running fresh hot liquor on the top of the mash. This rinses the sugars out of the barley and in to the wort.

-Batch sparge: Draining the hot wort off the mash completely, then add the fresh hot liquor to the now dry mash, stirring, and draining it off again to create your wort.

-Brew-in-a-bag (BIAB): Putting all of your grain in a mesh bag (like partial mash) for the mash. You don’t have to sparge with this method. You squeeze out the bag or rinse with a small amount of hot liquor to create your wort. More below.

-Full volume boil: In extract brewing we generally boil about 3 gallons of wort then top off with water to reach 5 gallons in the fermenter. In all-grain brewing we generally boil 6 gallons or more to make a final volume of 5 gallons into the fermenter.

-Brew kettle: What we call a large pot.

Let’s be honest here; you can go crazy with all-grain brewing. You need more specialty equipment, more space, more money, more time. But … you may not need as much as you think. It can sound intense but you can make much better beer, and it's completely customizable to your tastes.

Pros: More customizable, ingredients are cheaper overall, better beer. Do you need any other pros?

Cons: More stuff, more room, more money for equipment, more time, more details (like better temperature control, volume control, sometimes math).

There are some different ways to make your wort with all-grain (and more ways than I’ll detail here).

You can fly sparge, batch sparge, or BIAB. Each requires a little different gear.

We’ll start with the extra equipment required. This is dependent on the type of all-grain you choose to do. You may need a larger pot depending on what you bought in the first place. You may need a mash tun and a hot liquor tun. If you’re doing full volume boils you need a larger pot. You may need a propane burner if you do a full volume boil because that electric stove will have an issue with 6½ gallons of wort.

Believe me.

Let's start with how Step 1 (make wort) works with all-grain in general.

You get a larger amount of grain and you soak it in more hot liquor (mash). You drain the wort created during the mash in to your pot. That’s the simple definition. Now let’s get specific on how to accomplish this.

Step 1 with the different all-grain methods.

Fly Sparging

When you mash to fly sparge you need a mash tun. Most people start with a 5-10 gallon cooler. That cooler will have a filtering device in it, like a false bottom or braided stainless hose to keep the large grain particles out of the final wort. You will also need another cooler or pot to hold additional hot liquor for the sparging process.

Process: Heat your liquor to the required temperature then add it to the mash tun. Stir in your grain. Let that rest for up to an hour or so. Don’t drink beer while you do this, at least the first time. It can make the rest of the brew interesting, to say the least.

After the mash is complete, you drain a little of your newly created wort off in to a pitcher or container, then add it back into the top of the mash tun, gently. You’ll want to do this until your wort has started to clear up. It’s generally 1-2 gallons of wort. This is the vorlauf. You don’t have to do it, but it is recommended.

Once your wort has cleared you can start draining the wort out of the mash tun in to your brew kettle.

At this point you also start adding more hot liquor into the top of the mash tun, gently. You don’t want to pour it straight in and create a hole in the top of the mash. That would cause problems because the water will drain through the hole preferentially and you won’t get an even sparge. You want to make sure that the water filters through the grain bed evenly, just like hot water through a coffee filter.

After you have drained off the amount of wort into your brew kettle that you need for your batch (6-6½ gallons for a 5 gallon batch), you’re done with Step 1. You may now continue on with the remaining steps.

Pros: In general you get better efficiency fly sparging than other all-grain methods.

Cons: Takes longer and can require more specialized equipment than other all-grain methods. If not properly done can result in off flavors in your beer. Temperature control is important.

Batch Sparging

For batch sparging you also need a mash tun, just like fly sparging. It will require a filtering device as above. You’ll need that additional cooler or pot for the hot liquor. You mash the same way as fly sparging. The real difference is how you drain the mash tun.

Process: When you batch sparge you drain the mash tun completely into the brew kettle. No vorlauf, no gentle running of hot liquor into the tun. You drain it as fast as you can. Then you add more hot liquor to the mash tun and stir it in. Wait another few minutes and drain it again. Now you have 6-6½ gallons of wort. Step 1 is completed.

Pros: Faster. Less concern about even draining.

Cons: Generally lower efficiency than fly sparging. You may get more grain particles in the wort, but they will normally settle out.

Brew In A Bag

BIAB is a newer method than the other two I’ve detailed here. But it has some distinct advantages. You don’t need a new pot or cooler to do the mash. You don’t have to sparge like you do with the other methods.

You can BIAB mash in the same kettle you would use for an extract brew on your stove doing a 3 gallon boil and using top-up water. Or you can get a larger 7-9 gallon kettle and do full volume boils with a BIAB mash. I’d recommend a propane burner for the larger boil though. Really the only additional equipment you need is a large colander or mesh strainer that hangs inside the top of your kettle and a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer bag from the hardware store, although you can get brewing-specific bags from most LHBS and online stores.

As an aside, I recommend this type of brewing to everyone who is starting out. It has the equipment bill of extract brewing and the customization and potential results of all-grain. It is the best of both worlds.

Process: The paint strainer bag will generally have elastic at the top and that will stretch over your kettle with the bag inside. Add the required amount of liquor and heat it. Slowly pour the grain into the paint strainer bag in your kettle, stirring constantly. When the grain is mixed in and your temperature is right, put the lid on the kettle. Turn off the heat for now; you don’t want to burn the bag.

Every 10 minutes of the mash, check the temperature and stir the mash. If the temperature is lower than your desired mash temp, turn the heat on LOW and stir constantly until the temp is back where you want it. When you have about 15 minutes left in the mash, heat about a gallon of water in a separate pot.

Once your mash is done, pick the bag up out of the kettle (carefully! It’s hot!), slide the colander under it and set it down so it can drain into the kettle. When the mash has drained, slowly pour the additional water through the bag and grain and let it drain. This is as close as you get to a sparge.

Once that’s done, you’ll have 3-4 gallons of wort and will be finished with Step 1. Continue on with remaining steps.

Pros: Requires much less specialty equipment than other all-grain brewing methods but is just as customizable. Takes less time than other all-grain methods because of the lack of sparging. Can be done on the stovetop if doing a partial volume boil.

Cons: If you have a 5 gallon pot you can only get about 10lbs of grain in the bag, meaning a 4.5-5% finished beer. Lower efficiency than sparge methods.

Tech Support and the Homebrewing Community

As I said before, there’s a huge amount of information out there. Books, forums, websites, you name it.

But there are also some really good people running homebrew stores like The Brew Shop and Learn to Brew in OKC and Moore, and High Gravity in Tulsa. There are also some great Oklahoma-centric resources on Facebook like the OK+ Homebrewing Society group. All would be willing to help out.

Past that, there are several homebrew clubs in Oklahoma, like the Fellowship of Oklahoma Ale Makers (FOAM) in Tulsa; Stillwater Brewers League; Beer Mafia; the High Plains Draughters, Yeastie Boys, and (my club) the Red Earth Brewers in Oklahoma City; and the Impact Zone Homebrew Club in Lawton. All of the clubs are very welcoming, have a lot of experienced (and novice) brewers and there are some great resources available. Plus, it’s a great time getting together and drinking homebrew!

So check out one of your local clubs and get ready to take the plunge into homebrewing. It’s nowhere near as difficult as it seems.

Nick here. Thanks, Sean, for that great post. It seems like a lot of information to digest, and it is, but you really shouldn't be intimidated about making the dive into homebrewing. We were all novices once, and it does come easier with time and practice.

Plus, the worst case is you have a batch of not-perfect beer. You'll more than likely still be able to enjoy it as long as you roughly followed the basic steps involved.

Pints and Pins

-Beer from Here Week continues at The Patriarch with a Mustang sixth anniversary celebration tonight; Iron Monk and Marshall on Thursday; Black Mesa and COOP on Friday; and a surprise "Ex-Beer-ience" on Saturday.

-Belgian Beer Week continues at TapWerks. It'll be a lot easier for me to just post this photo:

-I scored a couple cans of Roughtail's new rotating IPA, Adaptation Ale. This beer scores high marks from me. I'm a fan of the black IPA style, and this one hits all the high points. Only 80 cases were produced, so you may have to scrounge around to find any by now, but it will be worth it.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Beer tourism dollars just slipping through our hands

So many beer events, so little time.

That was my story this past weekend as I went from Oak & Ore on Friday to four different stops on Saturday to the official The Brew Shop moving day on Sunday.

Let's cover Friday and Sunday first, then come back to Saturday.

The weekend started Friday with the unveiling of the name of the session pale ale produced by Anthem Brewing Co. for Energy FC. The name was selected through fan voting on the three finalists: Energy Pale Ale, Bruised Shin and Upper 90.

And your winner was... Upper 90! The name was announced by the Energy coach in front of a packed house at Oak & Ore featuring special Anthem glassware, Energy coozies and full-size soccer balls for the first 46 people to order the beer.

Yours truly also sat in on a panel to record a promotional video for Upper 90. No sign of the video on the team's website just yet, but I'm sure it'll show up at some upcoming games.

So, let's jump ahead to Sunday. A solid and dedicated group of beer fans assembled at The Brew Shop bright and early to start loading up the store and moving all manner of beer and wine kits, bottles, grains and equipment down Pennsylvania to the store's new location at 2916 N Penn.

I must say, we made quick work of it, and by about 11 a.m., this is what the old Brew Shop looked like:

They plan to be open today at the new location, which looks great, by the way, and features tons more space than the old layout. So make a mental note of the new location if you're heading out for homebrew supplies anytime soon.

So how about Saturday? All three of Anthem, COOP and Mustang were holding open houses/tours/tastings, so Mrs. Beagle and I decided to go on a whirlwind adventure and hit up all three:

We went to Anthem first, scooted down I-40 to COOP and then shot up Meridian to Mustang to round things out. We found good crowds and good beer at all three locales.

We ended up spending about 30 minutes at Mustang, and within that time, at least five people came up to the bar asking for pints of full-strength beer, only to be told they could only be served samples of those types of beer.

In that 30-minute window, two people who were visiting and/or passing through town came up to the bar and asked for growler fills to take on the road. Same deal: They wanted fills of the high-point stuff, but were told only low-point could go in the growler.

So, if those tourist types were undercover ABLE agents, good job Mustang. But, if as I suspect, those were legitimate beer tourists, it just goes to show that Oklahoma is really missing the boat here.

I know this has been a hectic year in terms of alcohol legislation and liquor law reform, but here's just one more log to add to the fire. The lack of ability for our brewers to serve their full repertoire of beers in a legitimate taproom environment is taking out-of-state (and in-state, for that matter) dollars off the table.

When I was reporting last year for my long-form beer piece in Look at OKC, all three of Chase Healey of Prairie, Tony Tielli of Roughtail and former Anthem brewmaster Matt Anthony shared the same sentiment: If brewers could open their own regular taprooms and serve their full line of beers by the pint and growler, the state's beer industry would explode.

Tielli particularly made a point that stuck with me, and that I've echoed since. If the laws allowed brewers that type of freedom, it would make brewing beer a more financially viable proposition. In turn, that would lead to a marked growth of breweries in the state.

Oklahoma has about a dozen brick-and-mortar breweries. There are several states with more than 100.

Do the math. That would lead to more jobs, more choice for consumers and more out-of-state money coming into Oklahoma's economy.

These are all points that people have made before, but Saturday's open houses just really drove it home for me again.

Mrs. Beagle and I finished the night with a stop at The Patriarch, which was busy as usual. And this is a place where pretty much the only thing on the menu is beer. People are serious about their beer in this state, and beer has the potential to be really serious business in Oklahoma.

If we can just get out of our own way and make it happen.

Pints and Pins

-The Patriarch's Beer from Here Week is in full swing. Festivities started Sunday with special beers from (405) Brewing and Elk Valley Brewing. Things continue today, and I could type out the whole week's schedule, or I could just post this photo:

-Your Monday pint nights at the McNellie's pubs: Mustang Tractor Therapy at Oklahoma City; Angry Orchard at Tulsa; Old Style at Tulsa-South; and Anchor IPA at Norman.

-Anthem is planning to be at a series of events this month: They'll be pouring samples of their full-strength beer on Thursday in the Paseo for Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park; they'll be teaming up with Marshall Brewing for a joint tailgate party for the Energy/Tulsa Roughnecks game on Saturday (I'm a little fuzzy on the location for this, but I'm going to assume it's at Taft Stadium, and I'll let you know if it's not); and then they'll be pouring their low-point beer at the Myriad Gardens on July 24 for the Southern Sounds Concert Series #2.

-COOP is taking part in a beer and cheese tasting from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Whole Foods OKC.

-Marshall will have growler fills and pints starting at noon on Friday and will be open at noon July 25 for brewery tours.

Friday, July 10, 2015

It's Beer Label Friday!

I'm starting a new feature on the blog today -- Beer Label Friday.

Over the years, I've posted plenty of beer labels, so generally this is not anything new. But I thought it would be kind of neat to consolidate the labels to one blog post each week. Maybe it'll give you some beer for thought heading into the weekend.

First, a disclaimer about beer labels. While they're fun to look at and quite often an accurate barometer of what beers you should expect to see on shelves in the state, they are not a guarantee. Many a label has been approved only to be shelved before hitting production. And what's more, label approval doesn't always give a good indication of release date. Sometimes a beer is released soon after a label is approved, sometimes it's not for months.

But, I still maintain it's fun to check out new beer labels, so let's get this thing started.

And to start, I have to say this: I'll be dammed.

A lot of people will remember the Redbud Brewing Co. brand. It was formed shortly after current Prairie Artisan Ales founder and brewmaster Chase Healey left his job as brewmaster at COOP Ale Works.

The label didn't last long in practice. Shortly after getting started with Redbud, Healey left the state for a brewing job in Texas, before leaving that job to start Prairie.

The Redbud brand was scooped up by Mustang Brewing Co. when it purchased control of the OKCity Brewing Cooperative in the aftermath of the shake-up.

Many times over the years, Mustang hinted at re-launching Redbud. For example, this was posted on the Redbud Facebook page in 2013:

What styles of beers would you like to see come out of the "new" Redbud Brewing?
Like · Comment · 

And then this was posted in February 2014:

Coming in April: Red Bud Cider! Oklahoma's first hard apple cider. It will be brewed in Oklahoma City at the new Mustang Brewing Company brew house. We will announce launch dates in March.
Like · Comment · 
Of course, it's now July 2015, and we haven't seen any Redbud beers or ciders.

Over the years, when people asked me what the status of Redbud was, I always said I didn't think there really was any status. Mustang was generally focused on solidifying its own production plans and not focused on rolling out a different label.

Perhaps now that is about to change:

This label for In-Sider Ale was approved by the feds last month, and seems to indicate we may finally see a re-birth of the Redbud brand in the form of a hard apple cider. I'll share more details as they become available.

For our next label, let's take a look at the new Adaptation Ale from Roughtail:

As I mentioned on the blog yesterday, this is the first in a series of small-batch, quarterly rotating IPAs from Roughtail. The beers will be released each January, May, July and October, with the first one expected to hit stores as early as this weekend. Here's how Roughtail describes the July 2015 version:

"Black IPA features strong tangerine, orange peel and pine needle flavors and aromas from a heavy does of Amarillo, Chinook and Centennial hops. Its subtle malt backbone finishes very clean and exceptionally dry. 8% ABV, 90 IBUs. 80 cases produced."

In other words, grab some while you can, because there won't be much out there.

Lastly, we have a keg label for Hanson Bros. Festivale Farmhouse Ale:

I don't have much I can tell you about this one, other than the fact that a label for Festivale bottles and/or cans was approved by the feds a few months ago:

We shall see how that shakes out. Now on to the bullet points.

Pints and Pins

-I give a tip o' the cap to local homebrewer AJ Crowell. AJ was in need of some empty 12 oz. bottles so he could enter the Red Earth Brewers' latest homebrew competition. I have tons of empty 12 oz. bottles and we just happen to live within a mile of each other. So I hooked AJ up with some bottles yesterday and he in turn hooked me up with a bomber of his Hop Town Funk Saison (love that name!).

Look out beer world, because AJ can make a mean saison! This beer was great. Thanks AJ!

-I'll be at Oak & Ore tonight for the Anthem/Energy FC beer unveiling. The Energy has asked me to take part in a promotional video about the beer. Since I love beer and soccer, this seemed like a no-brainer. Stop by and say hello if you spot me.

-Jump on Twitter and search "#DeadRaccoonTO." I'm from Toronto, and while this deal was slightly peculiar/disturbing, it also made me #lol and feel somewhat proud of being from Toronto, if only because the city owned worldwide Twitter for a night.

-We have a hard-charging contender for event of the year: Roughtail Taphouse is hosting a "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!" watch party and pint night with a special shark-inspired beer on July 22. You will not want to miss this!!! Can I use more exclamation points? !!!!!! Yes, yes I can.

-Marshall Brewing is hosting its first Firkin Friday tonight at 4 p.m. featuring Volks Radler. Pints and growler fills start at noon and run through 7 p.m., featuring Mosaic Pale Ale, Nelson Pale Ale, Lil Belg and Volks Pils.

-Anthem Brewing is hosting tours and tastings at 1 p.m. Saturday. Anthem is really working the public appearance circuit these days. I'll have more on that next week. Until then, have a good weekend, people.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Busy beer times at hand in Oklahoma

It's been an interesting last couple weeks on the Oklahoma beer scene.

While a whole bunch of things were happening and a whole mess of events were being announced, I was on the annual Beagle Family Disney World Summer Vacation, and was missing everything.

So, let's get up to speed on what's going on.

First, apologies to Red Earth Brewers club member Sean McCanne. Before leaving for vaca, I posted the first installment of his epic guest blog, an introduction to basic homebrewing. I promised to post the second installment, but with packing and getting the dogs dropped off at the boarder and all sorts of other last-minute stuff, I ran out of time. So, stay tuned again -- I will indeed post part two soon!

So, now on to the news. For one, we've seen the roll-out of Evil Twin and Stillwater Artisanal in Oklahoma, and the beers seem to have been greeted warmly. Last night I had the chance to try Evil Twin Ashtray Heart and Stillwater Surround. Both good beers for sure. I especially was intrigued by Surround, the oak-smoked imperial wheat stout.

I felt like the wheat actually lightened/brightened the beer, considering the style. It hides its 10% ABV well and gives just a pleasant hint of smoke. Overall, quite the enjoyable beer.

Secondly, and I'm totally burying the lead here, there was the news that Anheuser-Busch is withdrawing its membership from the Beer Distributors of Oklahoma (BDO) after multiple decades. In a nutshell, AB says its definition of modernization does not align with that of the BDO. I've digested every angle of analysis on this news, which had been in the offing for several months, so now why not throw in my two cents?

What we have coming to Oklahoma is a big ol' fight. Write that down. The participants in this fight are Anheuser-Busch vs. Every Other Distributor (EOD) represented by BDO. The playing field will be the Oklahoma Legislature.

The trophy will be new alcohol laws in the state.

Make no mistake: This is about money and preserving business models that you feel are advantageous to yourself. And remember, both sides in this fight have a lot of money.

So, the issues at hand: Why is AB squaring off in a fight against EOD? What do they want? And will Oklahoma's craft brewers actually find themselves in league with AB? So many questions!

Let's get one thing clear first. Oklahoma's laws allow you to distribute your own beer -- to self-distribute -- if the beer in question is low-point beer. Of the mega brewers, only AB takes part in this type of distribution in Oklahoma.

That is why AB is squaring off with EOD and BDO. Everything I've heard over the years from people in the know is that AB would love to do away with the dual-strength system. They find it quite annoying to have to produce 3.2 beer for only five states and would prefer to streamline. They also view Oklahoma as a key stakeholder in bringing down the dual-strength system. The feeling in the industry is that if Oklahoma moves to single-strength, the rest of the states will follow.

So, hey, I'm Oklahoma, and I'm kind of a big deal. To AB especially.

Of course, as stated, the only thing that allows AB to distribute its own beer in Oklahoma is the dual-strength system. So how do you move to single-strength while still keeping your business model intact? You write the rules to fit your needs.

AB wants to continue distributing its own beer, regardless of what strength it is. This is why AB has drawn its line in the sand. Expect AB to put up a vicious fight. They will advertise and lobby and blanket social media and maybe even seek donations to support their cause.

But as anyone who has drawn a line in the sand knows, it's generally better to have someone else -- multiple other someones elses, if possible -- digging into the sand on your side of the line.

So who will wiggle their feet into the sand with AB? There are a lot of people who love Budweiser, or Bud Light if you will. These are the people who buy -- gasp! -- 24 packs of Bud Light at the gas station. They think Budweiser is -- gasp! -- a great American beer. After all, it's the beer their dad enjoyed and the beer their granddad enjoyed before that. They will likely be swayed by AB's pledge of putting the consumer first in this fight to define modernization of Oklahoma's laws.

Everyone else, of course, hates the crap out of AB.

EOD and BDO are against AB. In response to the AB pull-out, BDO released a statement claiming that AB is losing market share and laying Oklahoma workers off and is generally un-American. They assert that the local AB distributorship used to be run by hard-working Oklahomans, but now is being run into the ground by a "foreign ownership group comprised primarily of interests from Belgium and Brazil." Tough words, especially considering that every mega brewer -- hello MillerCoors! -- is ultimately controlled by foreign interests.

You know craft brewers -- maybe except the ones who took mega-million buyout offers from AB -- hate AB. That little Super Bowl commercial you may recall? That was like an Arctic storm system blowing over AB-craft relations. (And still so peculiar considering AB was directly bashing an important part of its own portfolio.) But here's the rub: In this fight to change alcohol laws, Oklahoma's craft brewers actually have something in common with AB. They're also taking part in self-distribution.

A good portion of Oklahoma's craft brewers, including Prairie, Roughtail, Marshall, COOP, Choc, Anthem and Mustang, distribute their own low-point beer.

How much do the craft brewers enjoy doing that? Beer by the pint is the biggest cash cow in the beer sales world. What if new laws meant craft brewers had to sell their own high-point beer to a distributor or wholesaler so they could then turn around and buy it back to put it on tap at their brewery?

Craft brewers right now can skip all that rigmarole: They have the option to simply brew some low-point beer, put it in a keg and hook it up in their tap room. It never has to leave the brewery.

The definition of point-of-production sales could be defined in this fight. If that's the case, we could see a scenario where the state's craft brewers actually find themselves fighting for the same thing AB wants. That would be a strange partnership indeed.

Of course, Oklahoma's craft brewers have become quite politically savvy. They likely won't openly align with AB because they need EOD right now to distribute their high-point beer in our current system, and for the fear that AB may lose the fight against EOD. In that case, craft would have to push up to the bar with the enemy, so to speak, in the new alcohol law landscape.

So, what does the distribution fight mean to the average Joe (Six Pack)? It's hard to say. Naturally, it depends on what the specific language of the law ends up looking like. AB is in it for the money, so you generally can't trust their motives. But don't forget, EOD is in it for the money, too, so be cautious there as well.

The group LOCAL -- League of Oklahomans for Change in Alcohol Laws -- made a sound argument that AB may be interested in controlling territories and, if they win the fight, could end up refusing to distribute certain brands they don't prefer in said territories, thus limiting access to consumers.

The argument against that -- as AB has pointed out -- is that in several areas where AB owns distributorships, the craft beer market is thriving. So who do you believe?

My takeaway is this: This distributor fight is not about what's best for the consumer. It's also not about what's worst for the consumer. It's about two sides loaded with cash who want to keep at least part of the system the same as it is now.

That doesn't mean the distributor fight is not interesting or important. It's just that for my money, what will be more interesting for the consumer will be the other aspects of alcohol reform -- stuff like refrigeration and Sunday sales and convenience stores and brewers operating tap rooms -- stuff that impacts the day-to-day.

How this fight will impact those things remains kind of fuzzy. What's clear, however, is that this is an issue with multiple layers that will be very interesting to follow.

So, how do you top all that? Well, there's plenty more going on. Let's move on to the bullet points.

Pints and Pins

-News came out on July 3 that Nebraska Brewing Co. will enter the Oklahoma market on Sept. 1 through Oklahoma broker Paragon Brands.

-Mark your calendar! The annual international IPA Day celebration at TapWerks is set for August 7.

-Speaking of TapWerks, they are going bonkers! Tonight is COOP Pint Night featuring Coconut TROAIS and Coffee TROAIS. Then on Monday, they're kicking off Belgian Beer Week, featuring a different Belgian beer each night, leading up to next Thursday, when they'll offer up 10 different Belgians and corresponding glassware on one night. Wow.

-Oak & Ore and Anthem Brewing are teaming up on Friday for a release party to unveil the name of the new Anthem Energy FC beer. It will be either EPA (Energy Pale Ale), Upper 90 or Bruised Shin. More details here, and you can cast your vote here.

-The Patriarch just put seven different Evil Twin beers on tap. What's more, they may just go ahead and take them all off tap next week because they're promising a week-long Oklahoma tap takeover starting Monday. Key nights will be Tuesday, when they're expecting a visit from State Sen. Stephanie Bice, and Wednesday, when Patriarch founders will be on hand to discuss their bar and unveil a special firkin.

-Mustang Brewing's sixth anniversary party is set for noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at the brewery. More details here. More Mustang news: They'll be pouring a keg of Peanut Butter Milk Stout at 6 p.m. Friday at McNellie's-OKC. In addition, the Monday pint night at McNellie's-OKC will be Mustang's Tractor Therapy Session IPA.

-Roughtail is rolling out cans of its newest beer, Adaptation Ale, as early as this weekend. This is the first in a new line of rotating IPAs from Roughtail.

-Eskimo Joe's is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a huge craft beer party on July 24. More details to come, but this looks like a good time.