The Thirsty Beagle: Wrapping up OKC Craft Beer Week

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wrapping up OKC Craft Beer Week

So how is everyone?

Are your livers and other vital organs significantly recovered from the awesomeness that was Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week?

I hope they are, and I hope everyone really enjoyed the week. Sometimes when I sit back and think about the craft beer scene here in Oklahoma, it really blows my mind.

I started blogging on Oklahoma craft beer in 2008, and I think if you showed 2015 Oklahoma craft beer to 2008 Oklahoma craft beer, 2008 would get scared and go cower in the corner, overwhelmed by the sheer craziness of how far we've come.

I get that we still have a long way to go, and hopefully with signficant alcohol law reform we will get there, but if you just started following Oklahoma craft beer, you just don't know how good you have it.

Back in 2008, I used to have to walk eight miles, in the snow and uphill both ways, to get a good local craft beer. Seriously, when I started blogging, Choc, Marshall and Huebert were Oklahoma's only operational high-point craft brewers.

Today, we have at least 15 commercial brewers/breweries -- by my quick count -- and that represents a 500 percent increase in less than seven years. Is that math right? Either way, not too shabby. And you can't forget about all the big-name breweries that have come to the state in the past few years, from Goose Island and Green Flash to Founders and Lagunitas.

And of course, you can't forget our local venues. After the brewers, it was the venues that were the stars of OKC Craft Beer Week. When I started blogging, you pretty much had TapWerks and McNellie's as craft-beer-forward destinations. Seeing the Wedge embrace craft beer has been great. Seeing what Oak & Ore did over the week was outstanding. And near and dear to my heart, and northwest Oklahoma County home, seeing The Patriarch open up shop and Pub W locate on Memorial Road and embrace craft beer week were great boosts for a typically underserved area.

Lastly, I have to mention Saturday's fifth annual Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival. For the first time, the festival was held indoors -- moved to the Cox Convention Center when rain and storms threatened to wash the fest out of the parkng lot next to TapWerks. I can't say enough good things about the venue. While the inside of the Cox Center may lack some of the ambiance of an outdoor festival, you can't deny how the ceiling of the building helped trap energy in and direct it back down to the beer floor. I felt a buzz as soon as I walked in the door -- it just felt like a special event. The flow of traffic I felt was better as well. I never had to wait long in line for a beer and found it easy to move from table to table -- unlike last year's fest.

As I moved about the hall, I made a point to ask all the brewers what they thought. Everyone I spoke to said they appreciated the indoor venue. They appreciated being out of the sun and wind. They said it had a more professional feel -- in line with other beer fests around the country. Overall, I think it was a great move, and one that leaves even more room for expansion and growth.

So, in summation, the week showed we have a lot of good beer momentum. Let's keep this thing going!

Pints and Pins

-Marshall Brewing announced that its summer seasonal Arrowhead Pale Ale will be released Thursday in Okahoma and Arkansas. In addition, a release party is set for 5 p.m. May 29 at McNellie's Tulsa-South.

-Did you know that this year's Wild Brew beer tasting event is set for Aug. 22? Early-bird (pun intended) tickets are on sale through June 5.

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