The Thirsty Beagle: Prairie to OKC a no-go without SB 424

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Prairie to OKC a no-go without SB 424

Just in case you missed it, earlier today, Prairie Artisan Ales announced plans for a brewery, taproom and art studio in downtown Oklahoma City.

Immediately, I thought two things:

1. Hello, Senate Bill 424.

2. Who's next?

Some details first. Prairie will move into a building at 3 NE 8 -- for perspective, this is just to the east of S&B Burgers and just to the south of Kamp's in the Automobile Alley area. They will brew and sell some Prairie regulars like Bomb! and Standard and feature taproom sales and special bottle releases, according to the announcement on the Prairie website.

When Choc President Zach Prichard announced they had purchased Prairie and would look to open new locations, that wasn't just speculation. You have to figure the plans announced today had been in the works for some time.

And of course, this backs up something I've been saying (not to brag too much) about the promise of SB 424. To quote myself from a blog post on May 27:

"For all the still-kind-of-hard-to-fathom changes that SJR 68/SB 383 could bring, I don't think people really understand the effect that SB 424 will have on Oklahoma's beer landscape.

"I've been on the record to say that Oklahoma, within a few years, could have more than 30 brick-and-mortar breweries or brewpubs. It will be a wild time for sure. Breweries will open and close. Some will make great beer. Some will make totally average beer. Brewpubs are coming into the districts -- Plaza, Automobile Alley, Midtown, Uptown -- just watch.

"I don't think I can state it clearly enough: Oklahoma is on the verge of a craft beer explosion -- one I never could have imagined in 2008."

And now here we go.

Have no doubt that this move by Choc/Prairie -- really a pretty huge deal not only in local, but maybe even in national and international beer circles -- likely would not have happened without the passage of SB 424.

Don't even take it from me. Take it from Prichard. His response when I asked today if it was fair to say Prairie to OKC doesn't happen without SB 424?

"Yes."

So what's next? Raise your hand if you would not be shocked if Roughtail and/or COOP looked to open brewery/taprooms closer to the city center. (My hand is raised.) In fact, I have it on good information that just like Choc, several future brewers, bar owners and developers have been working on their plans well ahead of the go-live date on SB 424.

As one key player on the OKC beer scene suggested to me recently, those who don't already have properties or buildings locked up right now may be behind the game already.

Get ready craft beer fans. It appears we are indeed on the front edge of a craft beer renaissance in Oklahoma.

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