The Thirsty Beagle: New Oklahoma brewery eyes debut

Thursday, August 6, 2015

New Oklahoma brewery eyes debut

News came out recently that we will have yet another brewer enter the fray in Oklahoma.

Award-winning homebrewer Bruce Sanchez has decided to make the leap to the commercial ranks.

His brewery will be named Twisted Spike, and it will be interesting for a couple of reasons, aside from the obvious fact that it's interesting to have new beer made in the state.

First is the location. Twisted Spike will set up shop just off Automobile Alley, on NW 10 right beside the train tracks.

This will be the first Oklahoma City-area full-strength brewery to set up show in one of the city's entertainment districts -- that's a trend that is long overdue, I'm sure we can all agree.

Second is the technique Sanchez will use to make his beer: a cooperative agreement with COOP Ale Works. Twisted Spike's wort -- think beer before the yeast is added -- will be produced at COOP's brewery in far west Oklahoma City.

Sanchez will then truck the wort back over to NW 10 (talk about a nerve-wracking truck ride!), where he'll transfer it into his own fermenters. This is not an unheard-of arrangement; in fact, other craft brewers have done it before. This may be the first example of a such a practice in Oklahoma, however.

Sanchez will then bottle and keg his beer at his brewery, with plans for 375 ml bottles.

So, what about some of the other obvious questions, like what kind of beer will Twisted Spike produce and when will it hit the market? Sanchez was kind enough to take part in a Q and A. Here's how that went:

The Thirsty Beagle: You've been a very talented homebrewer for several years. Explain how the idea to scale up to a commercial level came about. Have you been planning this for some time?

Bruce Sanchez: For many years I have been asked, “When are you going to start a brewery?” or “Why haven’t you started a brewery?” For me, the timing just hasn’t been right. In order to turn my passion into a business, especially the beer business in Oklahoma, many factors needed to change.

About a year ago, we decided that it was a good time to start to develop a business plan. Oklahoma laws have begun to change in favor of beer and the laws relate directly to profitability. Brewery startup costs are also very high. To reduce my startup costs, I have partnered with COOP Ale Works, to produce my wort using some of their excess capacity.

TTB: What's the origin of the name Twisted Spike?

Sanchez: We tried for months to come up with an original name that had a connection with the location. We researched Oklahoma City history, Automobile Alley and railroad-related themes and elements hoping to come up with a killer name. Being adjacent to the railroad provided extra inspiration. We looked at thousands of antique cars, railroad engines, tracks, boxcars, and related images. While researching the difference between stainless steel and railroad spike steel, I was looking at railroad spike images. When I viewed a picture of a railroad spike that had been worked by a blacksmith, I said to myself, “That’s a cool twisted spike.” A giant light bulb went off in my head. After a couple of Internet searches to see if the name was already in use, I called my wife to bounce it off of her. Within five minutes of coming up with the name, the Internet domain was secured.

TTB: What should beer fans expect to see stylistically from Twisted Spike? Will you brew a line of flagship beers, or focus more on seasonals and one-offs?

Sanchez: We are going to establish several flagship beers as well as produce seasonal beers. I don’t have a “favorite” beer, but I do have many favorite beer styles. Many of my favorites are American- and Belgian-style ales. Before the tap room opens I plan to have at least 12 beers in our profile. Our initial releases will cover a broad spectrum of flavors and strengths. We will produce K├Âlsch, Pale Ale, IPA, Porter, Sweet Stout, Russian Imperial Stout, Belgian Blonde, Dubbel, Quadruple and Belgian Specialty ales. I also brew many sour beers. Those take longer to produce and will make their debuts down the road. The tap room will be a great place to get feedback on beers that have the potential for making it into the profile.

TTB: Talk about your location. This looks like a prime spot in the heart of Automobile Alley -- why was that spot the one for you?

Sanchez: OKC is experiencing rapid development in several areas and it is important to place the brewery in a high-growth area. I did a ton of research on several different areas of OKC. I was looking for THE perfect spot, which I could also afford. The 10th St. location has a lot going for it. It is probably the fastest-growing area of downtown. There are many housing developments planned and under construction that will maintain growth. The MAPS 3 2-rail stop on 10th & Broadway will be 1 block away and improve accessibility. We want to create THE OKC beer destination.

TTB: Lastly, let's talk time frame. Clearly there are a lot of steps left to play out, but what's your rough expectation on getting open and getting beer on the market?

Sanchez: The Oklahoma City Council will vote on the permits that we have submitted for the brewery and tap room on September 29th. After the permits have been approved, the lease contingencies will be satisfied. With lease in hand, we can begin the state and federal brewing licensing process. That process will take eight to 10 months. During the licensing process time, we will start the brewery construction. Our plan is to start brewing our first batches in July of 2016.

So there you have it, folks. I'm impressed with Sanchez's sense of a restrained time frame. In covering the Oklahoma craft beer scene for the past seven years, I can tell you that these types of things always take longer than expected, so playing it cool on the time frame is definitely the way to go.

Either way, it'll be great to see Twisted Spike get on its feet and start selling some beer.

Pints and Pins

-Tickets are now on sale for the annual ZooBrew beer tasting at the Oklahoma City Zoo. The event is set for Sept. 25. You can scoop up your tix at

-Lottinvilles is hosting a Roughtail Brewing beer dinner on Aug. 19. You can call 341-2244 to make reservations.

-Republic Gastropub is offering half-off Prairie Gold all week.

-Here's an interesting history of Oktoberfest beers.

-Mustang is hosting another Craft Beer Block Party from 4 to 9 p.m. at the brewery.

-Get a load of these Anthem hats!

Yes, please. These are available at the brewery for $15.

-Finally, a reminder that today is the annual IPA Day celebration at TapWerks. You can read up on the beer lineup right here.

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