The Thirsty Beagle: Top 10 Oklahoma craft beer stories of 2016: No. 2

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Top 10 Oklahoma craft beer stories of 2016: No. 2

Happy New Year! After a slight holiday break in our countdown of top 10 Oklahoma craft beer stories for 2016, it's time to get back on the horse and finish off our list.

Today, we've made it all the way to...

No. 2

The news: Krebs Brewing Co. acquires Prairie, embarks on aggressive growth

What happened: In a deal that had been rumored for some time, Krebs Brewing Co. acquired Prairie Artisan Ales from founder Chase Healey. Krebs also struck a deal to acquire a sprawling production facility in McAlester, and declared it would move the bulk of its production there once the building goes online. In addition, Krebs announced the opening of a Prairie brewery/taproom in 2017 in Oklahoma City's Automobile Alley district. To run the new bar, Krebs hired away former TapWerks general manager and Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival founder Greg Powell.

(Blogger's note: Historically I have referred to Krebs Brewing Co. as Choc, or Choc Beer Co., but I will refer to the company as Krebs Brewing Co. moving forward for accuracy and consistency.)

Why it mattered: It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that when Oklahoma's most famous and internationally successful beer label is sold, that's a big deal. That move by Krebs alone would have been one of the most significant developments in 2016, but the godfather of Oklahoma craft beer was not content to stop there. The Oklahoma City brewery announcement sets up the potential for a major beer tourism destination -- just look how successful the Tulsa Prairie pub has been. And the McAlester move gives Krebs room to really stretch its footprint. Lastly, hiring Powell away from TapWerks was a deft move that has the potential so send ripples through the local craft community. And I didn't even mention how locals reported Krebs leadership was scouting McCurtain County for a potential brewery/pub in that area of the state. Clearly, Krebs really shook things up in 2016 and laid the groundwork for what could be an even more transformative 2017.

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