The Thirsty Beagle: September 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Nebraska Brewing rolls out in Oklahoma

The last couple years it's seemed like we've had a pretty steady stream of new beers arriving in Oklahoma.

That trend continued recently with the addition of the core line of beers from Nebraska Brewing Co.

I was able to sample all these beers -- Brunette Nut Brown Ale, India Pale Ale, Cardinal Pale Ale and EOS Hefeweizen -- at Friday's ZooBrew.

So how about a mini-review-recap-analysis-type thing?

-India Pale Ale (6.9% ABV, 72 IBU): This is a solid beer. It is described as West Coast-inspired, but I really feel it is best identified as a Midwest-style IPA, if that makes sense. To me, I just didn't get any of the typical piney, citrus or dank hop notes we're seeing from today's West Coast IPAs. This is despite the use of Citra hops. Maybe I just had an off can? Again, not a bad beer, but I don't know that the hop character I tasted matched what the beer promised.

-EOS Hefeweizen (5.2%ABV, 13 IBU): I don't have a lot to say about this beer, other than that I really enjoyed it. I thought it hit the nail absolutely on the head for the style. In fact, it won a bronze medal at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival for South German-Style Hefeweizen. If you like a classical hefeweizen, you should definitely go pick this up.

-Brunette Nut Brown Ale (4.7% ABV, 20 IBU): I would rank this as the least-inspiring of the four beers. It wasn't off style and didn't really display any major flaws, but I just found it to be an average example of the style. Sometimes I wonder if my over-reliance on hoppy beers has skewed my ability to enjoy other non-hoppy styles?

-Cardinal Pale Ale (6% ABV, 42 IBU): This was my favorite beer of the bunch. It was bright and accessible, delivered just the right amount of hop aroma and flavor and delivered a perfect amount of bitterness to match up to the malt profile, which at 6% ABV is pretty malty for a pale ale. This is a highly drinkable pale ale and a great choice if you want to dive into the Nebraska line.

(Not pictured/described is Nebraska Ale Storm, an American blonde ale checking in at 5.2% ABV and 11 IBU.)

And speaking of ZooBrew, props to the event organizers for a great evening, and to all the brewers and brokers who took time to chat. A tip of the hat especially to the guys from Paragon Brands for their hospitality when I took extra time chatting them up about Nebraska Brewing. In terms of the rest of the event, the lines for beer were not too long at all and the selection of drinks was good. I wouldn't mind seeing some more substantial food options for the Pre-Brew event -- you don't really have time to stop for a good dinner with a 5:30 p.m. start -- but I guess that's just nitpicking. Overall, it was a great night.

Pints and Pins

-The Brewers Association announced recently that they now have more than 4,000 breweries in their database, and they expect that number to climb rather quickly above the record of 4,131 breweries established in 1873.

-The Prairie tap room is hosting live music and food trucks at 7 p.m. Monday, featuring Mikaela Davis, Lauren Shera and Rachel La Vonne.

-Something to watch: Green Flash's award-winning brewmaster of 11 years, Chuck Silva, has resigned in order to start his own craft brewery.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Roughtail pushes envelope with Monkey Shines

The seventh annual ZooBrew beer tasting event is set for tonight, with tickets sold out and attendance pegged at more than 1,000 at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

One of the highlights of the night will be a special offering from Roughtail Brewing:

A couple years back, Roughtail produced a special beer for ZooBrew. The idea was to create a beer based in some way on plants or food consumed by animals at the zoo. The result was Bamboo IPA, a beer brewed using huge amounts of bamboo tea leaves.

Roughtail is revisiting the idea this year with a special IPA -- Monkey Shines IPA -- that features bananas.

So what is the beer all about? I checked in with Roughtail to get the scoop.

"We brewed a German Hefeweizen base beer with a large percentage of wheat malt, and hop-bursted it in the whirlpool with Citra and El Dorado hops," said Tony Tielli, Roughtail brewmaster. "(We) fermented it with a classic German Hefeweizen yeast strain to bring strong notes of banana and milder notes of cloves to the tropical fruit/citrus flavor and aroma of the hops. We finished it with a large dry hop of Citra and El Dorado."

And to really drive home the banana flavor, "We threw a bunch of bananas in after fermentation to really ramp up the banana-ness," Tielli said.

The beer will check in with a medium body and about 6% ABV, and I would expect it to go fast tonight.

It's hard to say in beer that someone's doing something that no one has done before, but I can say that this is an approach that I've not seen before. I'm curious to see how this beer turned out.

Moving on, how about a look at a whole bunch of new beer labels for our Oklahoma brewers?

September has seen several label approvals from federal regulators. Let's start with Elk Valley, where you will probably soon have a few options to look for at your local bar, including Pumpion Pumpkin Spiced Ale, low-point Oatmeal Stout and Sunset Saison:

Next, (405) Brewing of Norman is continuing to expand its line-up of packaged offerings. They are approved for labels for (405) Brown, described as a southern brown ale, and FDR imperial coffee stout:

Next is another offering from The Willows Family Ales, Heath Sweat Gose:

This next one is near and dear to my heart. Several years ago, I blogged about Beavers Bend Brewery, which is located in the Broken Bow area in McCurtain County. So far, Beavers Bend has been available only on tap at a few locations in the county, but it appears they are branching out some. They've just been approved for their first bottled offering, the low-point Fleucy Creek Pale Ale:

And lastly, looks like Mustang will re-introduce its winter seasonal, Winter Ale:

That's it for today. I'll be at ZooBrew tonight, so say hello if you spot me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fassler-OKC Oktoberfest celebration set to kick off

If you didn't get your fill of Oktoberfest at the annual Choctaw Oktoberfest celebration, Fassler Hall-OKC has your back.

The Midtown destination is gearing up for a four-day Oktoberfest, beginning Thursday and running through Sunday.

As you can see in the event flier, festivities will get underway with a kick-off party Thursday, the bar will go to 21-and-older Friday and Saturday, and then they'll wrap things up with a family day on Sunday.

Fassler is one of my top spots in OKC for beer and food -- it's the perfect place to revel in beer, sausage and smoked-Gouda cheese sauce.

Pints and Pins

-Oak & Ore has added a cool new feature to its social media: A live beer list on its Facebook page. You can access the list here.

-The Patriarch will tap a special keg on Thursday: A limited-release Avery Samael's Oak Aged Ale. This is a highly malty English-style strong ale that checks in at 15% ABV. Definitely a rare tapping.

-TapWerks has a big birthday coming up. The godfather of Oklahoma City craft beer bars will turn 20, and they're celebrating with a week of special cellar releases Oct. 5-8. This will be one you don't want to skip out on.

-McNellie's-OKC is offering a $4.75 Tallgrass 8-Bit IPA special at the moment.

-The sixth annual Harvest Beer Festival at McNellie's-Tulsa is fast approaching. The fest is set for Oct. 3.

-The featured beer of the week at Republic is Marshall Brewing's This Machine IPA.

-News from Roughtail: Fresh Hoptometrist Double IPA is shipping out from the brewery today.

-If you've had a hankerin' for some tasty Dead Armadillo Amber, they have a new batch in kegs and it's headed out around the state for distribution.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Iron Monk preps for opening of tap room

I was up in Stillwater for the most recent OSU football game (that offensive line! Sheesh!), and I took the opportunity to swing by Iron Monk Brewing to tour their facility, located just off campus at Sixth and Husband.

As an OSU graduate, it certainly is nice to see a craft brewery operating in my old stomping grounds. I chatted with brewery founders and long-time homebrewers Dave Monks, on the left in the picture above, and Jerod Millirons, on the right, about how business is going and also about what kind of reception they're getting from the typical Bud Light-drinking crowd up there.

Turns out college kids these days are warming up to the idea of craft beer, and Monks and Millirons are seeing demand grow in Stillwater.

(Side note: Did you know that the name Iron Monk comes from a combination of the names Monks and Millirons?)

You likely have tried their first two beers -- Milk Stout and Payne County Imperial IPA. The beers are both being distributed across Oklahoma, even garnering some requests from liquor stores in the far reaches of the state. The duo reports their third offering, the low-point Stilly Wheat, has been met with a lot of enthusiasm in town. The beer has been picked up by several local restaurants.

I was able to sample some on Saturday, and while a low-point wheat beer wouldn't necessarily be my first choice, they've done a good job with this. It was bright and enjoyable, with just a hint of hop crispness.

Next up for Iron Monk should be a session IPA. They hope to have that beer ready right about the time they open their tap room.

Which brings me to my next point. Monks and Millirons -- who not only brew the beer but also have been doing demo, build-out and renovations on the brewery building -- are working hard to finish their tap room project.

I was able to check out the space and I can report that this will be one of the better tap rooms in the state from an aesthetics and functionality standpoint. It features an expansive wooden bar-top, a large and inviting area for seating and the key piece -- a towering window behind the bar that looks back to the brewhouse set-up.

So keep your eyes on Iron Monk's social media channels and on this blog for updates on an opening date for the tap room. It'll be worth the drive to Stillwater.

Pints and Pins

-Big news from TapWerks -- check out this post from the FB page:

Hey Friends! We're turning TWENTY next month, and we think that calls for a party! A no-holds-barred, week-long, bringing-the-gold-wax-Bomb!-out-of-the-cellar type party!
Stayed tuned for details and mark your calendars for October 5-8!

-Coop Ale Works is hosting a Beer & Football Watch Party on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. COOP reports their projector screen is up and running, and the OU game will be on.

That's it for today -- but I'll have more event updates and news on the blog tomorrow.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma makes U-turn on alcohol reform

When State Sen. Stephanie Bice introduced Senate Bill 383 in the last legislative session, it was greeted with near-universal excitement by craft beer consumers and brewers in Oklahoma.

The primary intent of the law as introduced was to allow beer to be stored in liquor stores at a temperature below room temperature. The bill quickly came to be known as the "refrigeration bill."

While blogging about the bill and writing for The Oklahoman, I interviewed several liquor store owners who voiced strong support for the measure. In the months that followed, I talked to other liquor store owners who quietly expressed their opposition to the move. 

Caught right in the middle was the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma, the group that represents many of the liquor store owners on each side of the issue.

At the time, the RLAO -- clearly trying to play it down the middle -- announced a stance of "neutral" on the bill. That was until the bill hit the political machine, started to snowball and became something different altogether.

By the end of the legislative session, what started as the "refrigeration bill" turned into the "re-write Oklahoma's constitution" bill. It became a complete do-over on the section of the constitution that deals with alcohol.

That did not sit well with the RLAO. They posted this statement on their website:

"SB 383 has been passed by the full house. ... The bill will now move to conference and will move forward from there with a target of allowing people to vote in November of 2016 on whatever the language of the bill looks like at that point. 

"The RLAO was originally neutral on this bill because, although it would result in additional expense for the retailer, it was a convenience for the consumer without sacrificing public safety or increasing youth access to strong alcohol.

"The RLAO now strongly opposes this bill since it was amended to require a change of the Oklahoma Constitution to allow all current 3.2 outlets to sell strong beer and malt beverages. This would include grocery stores, convenience stores, 'beer bars,' golf courses, restaurants and many others.

"The practical effect of this bill would be much easier access to an intoxicating product for those under 21 as well as a greater number of alcohol-related crimes for those over 21 due to higher levels of intoxication from consuming products that now have up to FIVE TIMES as much alcohol than the product that is currently allowed to be sold through these outlets. This bill would include such products as Four Loko, Colt 45 Blast, Mike's Hard Lemonade and many 40oz high-alcohol malt beverages."

A very strong stance, indeed. (And one that made a lot of assumptions that weren't necessarily backed up with statistics, I might say -- Oklahoma's crime rate is higher than many states with single-strength alcohol laws. But I digress, that's an argument for another time and day.)

Well, what a difference a few months make.

On Sept. 10, the RLAO posted on Facebook that they would be issuing a press release for their plans to modernize Oklahoma's liquor laws. That release is now out, published by the Daily Ardmoreite, of all sources, and here are the measures proposed by the RLAO:

1. Oklahoma should move to single strength (strong) refrigerated beer for all outlets which currently sell either “3.2” or “strong” beer.

2. As a matter of convenience, wine should be available for purchase in a limited number of grocery stores.

3. Customers should be able to buy mixers, corkscrews, glassware, cigars and other items inside their local retail package store.

4. Customers should be able to order our products and have them delivered by a properly licensed employee of a retail package store.

5. Customers should be allowed to attend tastings inside the premises of a retail package store.

6. Customers should be permitted to bring their child with them into a retail package store.

7. Customers should be allowed to buy liquor, wine and beer from a retail package store on Independence Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day.

8. Customers should have access to growlers and “crowlers” filled and sealed at a retail package store.

Bryan Kerr, president of the RLAO, issued this quote as well:

“This summer, we conducted a poll through the most respected pollster in Oklahoma, Bill Shapard of Sooner Poll, and we heard the customer loud and clear. We are committed to meeting the needs of the Oklahoma consumer without sacrificing public safety or increasing access of the product to teens and others who should not have it,” Kerr said.

In addition, Kerr commented on the matter of on-premise sales for breweries in the state:

“It seems silly and unfair that a consumer can go to any winery in our state and enjoy a glass of wine and then buy a bottle of that exact product but they can't do the same at Oklahoma breweries,” Kerr said.

While the eight proposed changes do not specifically address on-premise sales, or issues of distribution and self-distribution, I think we can all agree these are some long-overdue changes.

The key of course, will be that little matter covered in the RLAO's earlier statement on SB 383:

"The bill will now move to conference and will move forward from there with a target of allowing people to vote in November of 2016 on whatever the language of the bill looks like at that point."

If the RLAO's suggestions find traction in the Legislature and in the writing of the language for the 2016 state question remain to be seen.

Regardless, my thought is that this can be interpreted as nothing less than another sign that the tide of alcohol reform in Oklahoma has not only turned, but is picking up strength.

Friday, September 11, 2015

ZooBrew primed for biggest event to date

The seventh annual ZooBrew beer tasting event at the Oklahoma City Zoo is quickly approaching.

If you don't have tickets, there are a limited amount of general admission spots left. If you already have tickets, then you can look forward to Sept. 25 for the biggest ZooBrew to date.

I caught up with Oklahoma City Zoological Society Executive Director and ZooBrew organizer Dana McCrory this week, and McCrory reports they expect attendance at this year's event to reach the 1,000 mark.

"We started ZooBrew seven years ago as a new event to reach a missing demographic at the Oklahoma City Zoo -- 21- to 35-year-olds," McCrory said. "Little did we know that we were creating our most heavily attended and highly anticipated event for anyone over the age of 21."

The first ZooBrew boasted an attendance of 250.

"We started in the Canopy Restaurant with a handful of distributors and an amazing sponsor, Byron's Liquor," McCrory said. "Now, six years after the inaugural year we have expanded to 1,000 people and we have sold out of tickets every year."

Those of us who have attended regularly over the years know that the move from the Canopy to the outdoor pavilion was a big boost for the event. McCrory said this year's fest -- which offers more than 50 beers from local brewers, distributors and homebrewers -- will feature some new wrinkles as well.

"New this year there will be several food tents and snacks through an expanded event area," she said. "Roughtail has brewed a special brew, Monkey Shines, for the event. Uber is available with a special offer for first-time users.

"T-shirts, a new logo design, koozies for the guests and new tasting mugs are all in the mix this year!"

(Blogger's note: If you want to learn more about Monkey Shines, click here.)

Tickets for the event are $35 for ZooFriends members, $45 for non-members and $10 for designated drivers. They are available at

McCrory said the plan is to continue to grow the event in the coming years.

"We hope to continue the phenomenal growth of ZooBrew and expand the event throughout the zoo in the next three years," she said. "By our 10th anniversary -- who knows, 3,000 attendees?

"We couldn't do any of this without the amazing generosity of distributors, Byron's, breweries, home brewers, great food from OKC Zoo Catering, and of course, the fun, happy beer lovers who attend the event!"

Pints and Pins

-Mustang is open from 4 to 7 p.m. today for pints and growler fills.

-The latest offering from Black Mesa, a Kolsch, is now on tap at Fassler Hall-OKC.

-September tours at Marshall Brewing! This Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

-Speaking of Marshall, they're open for pints and growlers today from noon to 7 p.m.

-Boulevard Cornhole Tourney at The Patriarch tomorrow. More info here.

-COOP Ale Works finally canned its Oktoberfest yesterday! Be on the lookout at your local liquor store.

-I'm fairly certain COOP is open Saturday afternoon for pints and crowlers. But please, check before you go.

Friday, September 4, 2015

It's Beer Label Friday, Vol. 4

We've got some new Oklahoma beer labels to peruse today, including a new offering from Prairie.

Let's start there:

That's Prairie's 3rd Anniversary Ale, a farmhouse ale brewed with raspberries.

Then we have a new offering from (405) Brewing:

This one is described as a "Tropically funky pale ale."

We also have this new label from Choc:

As much as I would like to see this label show up on bottles in my local liquor store, Choc President Zach Prichard tells me this is simply the low-point Peach Ale they've been serving at Pete's Place for a number of years, but now available in bottles on-premise.

Here's the label for Anthem Ogletoberfest:

And then there's one additional beer label note: The feds have signed off on several keg collars for the Mustang beers being made at Choc. Looks like kegs of Tractor Therapy, Sixty-Six, Rocket Fuel, Farmhouse and Washita Wheat will be produced and packaged at Krebs.

Pints and Pins is seeking votes/nominations for best beer bar in each state.

-The winning beer from the Red Earth Brewers Pink Boots homebrew competition -- an excellent Irish red ale by Julie Bennett -- will be poured next Thursday at 7 p.m. at The Patriarch. After winning the competition, Bennett visited Anthem to brew up a special batch of the beer.

-An upcoming beer from Anthem to keep your eyes peeled for: Golden One aged in French oak barrels that had been holding Babalon right before.

-The Brew Shop will be open over the holiday weekend: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Labor Day.

-Marshall Brewing is open from noon to 7 p.m. today for growler fills and pints.

-COOP is open 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday for samples, pints and crowlers.

-Reminder, Fassler Hall-OKC's first Oktoberfest celebration is scheduled for Sept. 25-27.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Craft & Barrel working hard on beer imports

If you're into the Facebook and you're into the beer, then you probably are aware of who Freddy Lamport is.

He was the one-time operator of BierGarten Wine & Spirits in Jenks. He left that liquor store to start up a business as a beer importer/broker based in Owasso.

It appears that in between the large amount of time Lamport spends vaguebooking about what awesome beers he will bring into the state, he actually is working pretty hard to line up some pretty awesome beers to bring into the state.

I kid because I care. Seriously, though, I was trading messages with Lamport recently to find out about some of the latest beers coming down the line through his business, Craft & Barrel.

The latest news -- just confirmed late last night -- is that Cedar Creek Brewery, of Texas, will be coming to Oklahoma. Look for a November arrival for these beers out of Seven Points, Texas. If you're not familiar with where Seven Points is, it's next to Gun Barrel City. Only in Texas, right?
Actually it's right close to Athens, where I went to college for two years. I only wish Cedar Creek had been open when I was in school. (And I also only wish that I actually liked good beer while I was east Texas and hadn't spent two years drinking Natty Light.)

Look for Dankosaurus IPA and Gone A-Rye Double IPA at first.

Moving on, arriving in stores as soon as this week will be beers from Off Color Brewing, out of Chicago, and Moonlight Meadery, from New Hampshire.

Lamport reports Off Color will be sending Troublesome Gose, Apex Predator Farmhouse Ale, and Fierce Berliner Weisse. He is working to set up pint nights for both Off Color and Moonlight.

I mentioned last week on the blog that Shmaltz Brewing Co. would be arriving in October:
Lamport reports they will be sending the following beers in four-packs, six-packs and kegs:

-Hop Manna IPA
-Bitter Sweet Lenny RIPA
-Messiah Nut Brown
-Slingshot Craft Lager
-Chanukah Beer

Another recent announcement was Seattle's Urban Family Brewing. Lamport shared this label for their Voices Underground, a Brett farmhouse ale:

Urban Family specializes in sour and farmhouse ales. Their beers are expected in November.

The month after that, Oklahoma can expect Clown Shoes Beer, out of Massachusetts, to arrive.

I don't have a huge amount of experience with Clown Shoes, but I have tried their Tramp Stamp Belgian IPA and really enjoyed it. Again, expect a December arrival for these beers.

And last, a little closer, an Evil Twin tulip glassware night is scheduled for TapWerks on Sept. 10, so mark that on your calendar. Lamport also promises a new wave of Evil Twin beers in the near future.

Keep up the good work, Freddy.

Pints and Pins

-The annual McNellie's Harvest Beer Festival in Tulsa is set for Oct. 3.

-The Anthem Brewing Ogletoberfest release party is set for 6 p.m. tonight at TapWerks.

-Anthem will host a five-course beer dinner at Pub W-Memorial Road on Sept. 15. The cost is $55, and you can make reservations by calling 608-2200. The dinner will feature five beers -- three of them are being touted as special releases.

-Marshall Brewing's Oktoberfest launch party is set for 5 p.m. Thursday at Fassler Hall-Tulsa.

-If you're looking for more of Marshall's Arrowhead Pale Ale, be on the lookout for one last round of distribution this month before the beer is retired until next year. More info on that here.

-Oak & Ore is hosting an Alpine Brewing/Greenflash Tap Invasion and glassware night on Thursday, and I can say, the glassware is pretty sweet.

-Anthem Brewing recently attended CANFest in Reno, Nev., and scored a pretty impressive haul: Golden one took second place in the Belgian/Sour/Strong category, then went ahead and claimed best in show to boot. Congrats to Anthem!