The Thirsty Beagle: McCurtain County brewers look to carve out niche

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

McCurtain County brewers look to carve out niche

I got down to the Beavers Bend State Park/Broken Bow Lake area last month, and had a chance to visit both Mountain Fork Brewery and Beavers Bend Brewery.

Both are small-scale, production breweries that officially opened their taprooms this year -- Beavers Bend in April and Mountain Fork in July.

They're both riding the recent wave of alcohol-related development in the Broken Bow Lake/Hochatown area. The two breweries, along with a distillery, three wineries and about a half-dozen restaurants/bars are the natural off-shoot of McCurtain County voters passing liquor-by-the-drink in 2015.

The breweries are both producing low-point offerings at the moment. Both offer pints and growler fills at their taprooms, while Beavers Bend offers its beer in bombers and Mountain Fork plans to offer crowlers.

It's worth noting as well that while Mountain Fork has been selling beer for about a month now, Beavers Bend has been in business for a couple years. They started out of Idabel, selling low-point beer by the keg to area restaurants, and now are located right next door to the popular Girls Gone Wine boutique. They clearly put a lot of effort into their expansive patio, which offers sweeping views of the neighboring woods.

Mountain Fork is located a little further up the highway to the north, right next door to the distillery, and offers probably the best-stocked gift shop of any brewery in the state.

I was able to trade emails with both brewmasters to check in on how things are going down in southeast Oklahoma.

First, Mountain Fork brewmaster Aaron Preston.

TTB: You guys just opened in July; how has the early reaction from guests been?

Aaron: The early response has been surprisingly good. I didn't know what to expect. I have been humbled by the positive feedback. It's very surreal going from a homebrewing background to selling beer to consumers.

TTB: Talk about what types of beers you guys are offering. What styles? 

Aaron: We will be offering four beers at launch, plus plans for more. Our current launch is: 

-The Rooster: It is my take on a Mexican ale. This beer was made to be our transition beer from the macro to craft. The idea came from sitting at different local restaurants and seeing what people were ordering.  In the area, Mexican beers are very popular. 
-259 Ale: This is our pale ale. It's lightly hopped and made to style.
-Hop Town Gal: This is our IPA. The hops paired with the sweet malt blends into a very drinkable IPA that wont blow out your pallet. 
-Tabb’s Dirt Road: This is our collaboration with Food Network’s "Chopped" champion Tabb Singleton. This will be a coffee stout. Tabb will be smoking the coffee beans that pair with our stout. Additionally, this beer will be offered on nitro. 

TTB: Where do you see the Hochatown area going in five years?

Aaron: I hope it keeps growing and stays a great place for tourist and locals alike to take their families. 

Next, Beavers Bend brewmaster Brad Reesing:

TTB: I noticed your beers tend to lean more toward the malt side than the hoppy/dry-hopped side as far as flavor goes. What is your thought process on your recipes?

Brad: My background with beer is more malty than hoppy. So we went with those types of recipes. The beers have been received well, although we do get some requests for hopped-up IPAs and APAs. I think it does take a while for beer drinkers to get accustomed to higher bitterness levels. We're kind of progressing along with our customers.

TTB: Do you have plans to brew high-point beers after Aug. 26?

Brad: We will look heavily into going high point this fall and study the options and kick around that idea. I would say that is definitely in our future, we'll just have to make a plan for that transition.

TTB: Where do you see the Hochatown area going five years from now?

Brad: Hochatown has seen a lot of growth in the past year, with a couple of new restaurants opening. Honestly, I wouldn't want to make a prediction about the future. We opened our brewery location in Hochatown on April 15, with lots of start-up costs, and we will chart our plans for the future after we get eight or 10 months under our belt.


  1. I'm headed down there at the end of September and early October for the Honobia Bigfoot Festival. I am really looking forward to trying out the beers from these two breweries. The Hochatown area is currently a hidden gem in Oklahoma. I am fortunate to know about it.

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