The Thirsty Beagle: November 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017

Week in beer: Upland debuts, Plaza Beer Walk returns

Happy Monday, beer fans. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving break and consumed some fine beverages.

Here's your weekly rundown on what's happening on our local beer scene.

But first, we had some big news drop recently in the ever-growing list of out-of-state breweries that distribute in Oklahoma.

The announcement came from broker/distributor Atlas Brand Craft & Barrel that Denver brewer Crooked Stave will be dropping in Oklahoma on Jan. 1.

Crooked Stave is certainly a great get for the state, and another feather in the cap for ABC&B. You can expect announcements soon on launch events and distribution plans.

Meanwhile, on to the rundown of beer events this week.

-Oklahoma is welcoming yet another new out-of-state brewery this week as Indiana's Upland Brewing Co. makes its local debut. Upland will be featured tonight at 6 p.m. at Oak & Ore with a lineup of eight beers, and then will be launched in Tulsa at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Roosevelt's.

-Stonecloud will begin hosting weekly trivia with Geeks Who Drink, starting tonight at 7 p.m.

-The McNellie's pubs are all hosting their regular Monday pint nights today. The lineup is: Shiner Cheer at OKC; Tallgrass Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat at Norman and at Tulsa; and Great Divide Yeti at Tulsa-South.

-Plaza Beer Walk returns this Wednesday, featuring Boulevard. The festivities kick off at 5 p.m. with stops at Empire Slice (Snow & Tell); Saints (Lemon Ginger Radler); Oak & Ore (Hibiscus Gose, Jam Band and Whiskey Barrel Imperial Stout); and The Press (80 Acre and glassware). Note that The Press is a new addition to the Plaza District and a first-time participant in the Beer Walk.

-The Root is hosting a six-week Jenga league/tournament, with a top prize of a Santa Fe Brewing snowboard and a $75 gas card. Week two is Wednesday with sign-up at 6 p.m. and games beginning at 7 p.m. If you missed week one, you can still participate and catch up on points if you start this week. More info here.

-Anthem is hosting a Pints and Palette date night Wednesday at 6 p.m. More details and ticket info here.

-The Patriarch is hosting a Sour Flight Night with Upland Brewing at 5 p.m. on Friday.

-The Fur Shop in Tulsa is hosting a Roughtail Polar Eclipse Pint Night at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

-Oak & Ore will close out its month of Sunday beer brunches this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with an Elk Valley Coffee Beer Brunch.

-Looking down the road a little bit, Prairie announced today that it's brewery-only release of Barrel Aged Christmas Bomb! is being moved from Krebs to the Prairie OKC location. That event is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 9.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Oklahoma will get BCBS... later

Every year about this time, we settle in for the holiday season with a fresh round of debate on Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout.

I'll never buy it because Goose Island sold out to Anheuser Busch.

I'll buy it as along as Goose Island is making it the same way, because it's still a good beer.

This year, you can still have that debate. Sort of.

Actually, it'll be next year.

Following up on rumors that had been swirling locally about the stout's availability in Oklahoma this year, I confirmed with Goose Island that BCBS will indeed be available in Oklahoma -- after Jan. 1.

That decision had not always been a sure thing, however.

Several liquor store owners reported hearing from their AB rep in the past few weeks that BCBS would not be arriving in-state this year. Only today did one liquor store owner tell me that the rep had a different story.

And just this afternoon, confirmation came for Goose Island of the post-Jan. 1 plan to ship to Oklahoma.

I do not have clarification on a reason for a delayed release as compared to past years, but at least you know that if you do want some BCBS, you'll be able to score some eventually.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Oklahoma set to welcome four new brick-and-mortar breweries this month

In what is turning into a remarkable one-and-a-half-week span, Oklahoma will witness four new brick-and-mortar breweries open for business between today and Nov. 25.

Although I can't say I know the answer definitively, it's hard to imagine that post-Prohibition our state has ever seen such a development unfold.

The veritable explosion of new breweries begins today at 11 a.m. when Prairie OKC opens to the public. We'll then see Heirloom Rustic Ales in Tulsa and Lazy Circles Brewing in Norman opening on Friday, and Cabin Boys Brewery, also in Tulsa, opening Nov. 25.

Wonder if adding four breweries is real feat? Consider that the latest ABLE report on licensed high-point brewers in Oklahoma lists 19. While Lazy Circles is not on the October report, one would presume they would be on the November report, and that would make 20.

So, the next week-and-a-half window is a big deal for the Oklahoma craft beer scene.

Which leads into an interesting point that I've delved into on the blog and podcast, and that is, how many breweries can Oklahoma support?

We know we have 20 licensed right now (not including low-point brewpubs), and we know that about 10 (give or take) brewers are contract- or gypsy-brewing or working to get their own taprooms open or in the early stages of getting off the ground. It may not be a stretch to think that by the end of 2018 -- once the distinction between high- and low-point breweries is gone -- all-told we will be around 30 breweries in the state.

Which makes me feel like I'll be sticking to my prediction that we eventually get to about 50 -- or even 60 -- breweries in Oklahoma.

That seems like a lot, but consider the recent statistic from the Brewers Association that Oklahoma ranks dead-last in the country in breweries per capita. We have a lot of room for growth statistically, and many cities in the state with no brewery.

Seems like the environment is ripe for this thing to take off.

Speaking of taking off, one of those breweries mentioned above -- Heirloom Rustic Ales -- is ready for its Friday launch.

I was able to catch up this week with Heirloom brewer and founding-partner Jake Miller to learn a little more about their brewery and upcoming plans.

A quick crash course on Heirloom: The company consists of Miller, a professional brewer who got started with Prairie and American Solera and moved on to brew in Oregon and Florida, and a pair of dentists, Zach and Melissa French. Zach French is a long-time homebrewer who once blogged about beer under the handle Oklahoma PedAler, and who is well-connected in both the Tulsa and Oklahoma City brewery scenes. He conceived of the idea for the brewery in 2016, and now here they are.

They'll turn out an eclectic run of blended and mixed-fermentation beers, with a lot of barrel aging and unique ingredients.

Check out the Q&A:

Thirsty Beagle: Give the readers a little snapshot of the Heirloom story. Who is on your team, and how/why did you all decide to get into the beer-making business?

Jake Miller: There are three of us. Zach, Melissa, and myself. Melissa has spent the bulk of her time on taproom build-out and design. She’s created a space that’s pretty much an unparalleled experience in Oklahoma. Zach is a very decorated and awarded homebrewer. He’s made incredible mixed-fermentation/blended beer for several years now. I’ve been professionally brewing for a little over three years now and had small stints at three different breweries before Heirloom.

TB: Elaborate on your beers and brewing approach -- what should consumers expect in terms of styles?

JM: People should expect a sharp focus on refreshing and drinkable beers. We want our saisons and lagers to be approachable (as those styles should be), but also intriguing and complex. We have several barrels that are filled, and several that are waiting to be filled. Those will create all sorts of blending possibilities for Zach and I to work with. We’re casting a fairly wide net, as far as styles are concerned. We’ll have pale ales, saison, lagers, porters, milds, and probably a bunch of other beers that are harder to categorize. We don’t want to get cornered into being one-dimensional, but we also don’t want to wander too far from our roots.

TB: How about market plans? Obviously you're starting in the taproom, but should consumers expect to see distribution of any kind?

JM: We plan on putting a lot of focus on selling our products straight out of the taproom. We like that we don’t have to worry about quality issues that way and that we can keep the price affordable. We do plan on self-distributing several low-point options to the Tulsa and Oklahoma City markets.

TB: Talk about your location and building a bit. What should visitors expect in terms of the vibe when they come to visit?

JM: We’re in the Kendall Whittier neighborhood, which is just outside of downtown Tulsa. It’s an artist haven and recently has seen a lot of small business growth. Inviting and comfortable are definitely the two first words that come to mind when describing the vibe of our taproom. Melissa thought about everything. The lights, chairs, plants, and bar all evoke more of a coffee shop feel than a brewery taproom. We’ll be playing old skate videos and cycling races on our projector. We really want it to be a place where people feel welcome and can stay a while.

TB: You guys are joining what has become a really fast-moving market in the Tulsa area. Describe what the energy of the beer scene is like in that part of the state right now.

JM: Absolutely. It seems almost weekly that we hear about a new brewery in planning, or an old brewery in planning starts construction. It’s really cool to see that kind of growth, and we’re excited about being in the middle it. There are several of us that are all within a mile or two of each other, so it’ll be great to watch that culture develop.

TB: Your grand opening is this Friday; can you provide details about what festivities you have planned?

JM: We’ll have seven beers on draft for people to try, and we’re hoping to fill our 32 oz. cans the day before for people to be able to purchase and take home. We’ll have the Mr. Nice Guys food truck on site, and the weather looks really good, so it should be a good time.

(Blogger's note: Good luck to Heirloom -- and the rest of the soon-to-open breweries -- as they open their doors!)

Pints and Pins

We've got a few recently added beer events this week that were not mentioned in my week in beer roundup from Monday.

-Back Porch Draft House in Lawton is holding an Oklahoma Tap Invasion at 4 p.m. Thursday. It's worth noting here that they'll be putting Angry Scotsman on tap, so that may be a first chance for some in southwest Oklahoma to try ASB.

-The Root is hosting a Founders Tap Takeover and Pint Night at 6 p.m. Thursday.

-Roughtail has yet another special release planned for noon Friday. This time it's another run of e-Juice fruit IPA. Interesting detail here: Roughtail has also applied for federal label approval for keg collars for e-Juice, so you should expect to see some retail distribution on this.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Week in beer: Heirloom launches, Twisted Spike hits one year, and Prairie OKC to open?

There's no shortage of fun beer events this week, folks. Check out the rundown!

-Stay tuned for news on the imminent public opening for Prairie OKC. The taproom was open tonight for a members-only event, and the beer was flowing. There's been no official announcement that I've seen, but I would expect it'll be pretty soon.

-Oak & Ore's Fried Chicken Tuesday continues tomorrow night, featuring $4 Marshall Old Pavilion Pilsner paired with sticky chicken wings with Vietnamese sauce.

-TapWerks is hosting a Green Flash pint night at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

-McNellie's OKC is hosting a Guest Favorites Beer Dinner Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The cost is $25, and you can email to reserve your spot.

-If you're looking for a unique beer event, you need to get over to Oak & Ore on Wednesday. They're hosting Lambic Lunacy at 6 p.m., featuring a great selection of Lambic beers.

-Thursday is a busy day, with several events on tap. For starters, The Patriarch is hosting a Stone Tap Takeover, with glassware, stickers and free swag, plus a special release that is typically brewery-only, Scorpion Bowl IPA. That's set for 5 p.m.

-Roosevelt's (Tulsa) is hosting a Knee Deep Brewing launch party at 5 p.m. Thursday.

-Anthem is holding a release party for its winter seasonal beer Rye'd or D'IPA. That will also be 5 p.m. Thursday.

-McNellie's South is hosting a Rahr & Sons beer dinner at 7 p.m. Thursday.

-New brewer alert! Heirloom Rustic Ales is holding a grand opening for its Tulsa taproom at 3 p.m. Friday. I'll have more to come on that later this week on the blog.

-Marshall's weekly Food Truck Friday is noon to 8 p.m. this week, featuring Andolini's.

-Hard to believe it's already been a year, but Twisted Spike is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a party from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. This ticketed event ($20 plus fees) features a commemorative glass, unlimited 4 oz. pours of all beers and first tasting of new and special-release beers. Plus, a portion of proceeds will go to the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma.

-Stonecloud is hosting its first bottle release from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. The beer, Sirens of Titan, is a dark sour with cherries that will be available by the 1,500-milliliter magnum bottles. Each bottle will go for $45, with a limit of three per person. You might say, "$45 is a lot for one bottle." To that, I would say, read this beer description from Stonecloud: 

"This beer was inspired by the perfect cold weather combination of dark chocolate and sour dried cherries. We crafted a dark sour base to highlight rich cacao notes and keep the roasted bitterness to a minimum. It was fermented and extensively aged in fresh Chardonnay barrels from Napa with our favorite house developed blend of wild yeast, lactobacillus and pediococcus. Once Sirens had reached its peak we re-fermented it on a blend of Montmorency, Royal Anne and Lambert cherries at a rate of over 2.5 pounds per gallon. This incredibly complex beer initially comes through with notes of intensely dark chocolate, wild funk and oak while finishing with lasting tart cherries as it warms. It clocks in at 8.2% ABV, 3.25 pH, has a finishing gravity of 1.6 Plato and was bottle conditioned."

So, ummm, yeah. To be honest, that sounds exactly like my last homebrew project, if you subtract all the words from that description except beer. Anyway, the night will also include an oyster pairing from Sea Gypsy and a limited amount of pours of Sirens of Titan from 4 to 7 p.m. ($10 for a 10 oz. pour). 

-Oak & Ore and Vanessa House are teaming up on Sunday for a reprisal of the Super Hero Beer Brunch, this time featuring a turkey drive (turkeys must be fully frozen). That's set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with reservations highly recommended.