The Thirsty Beagle: 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016

Top 10 Oklahoma craft beer stories of 2016: No.3

It's time for the top three in our list of Oklahoma's top 10 craft beer stories of 2016. I certainly debated which order to rank the top three, so please feel free to sound off with your opinions, too!

On to the countdown...

No. 3

The news: State voters pass State Question 792

What happened: What started as a bill to allow liquor stores to refrigerate alcohol turned into a full-blown re-write of the Oklahoma constitution. To get there, lawmakers introduced a 200-plus-page resolution aimed at updating the state's liquor laws. The resolution was passed and added to the November election ballot, where voters approved it with more than 65 percent support. After the election, a group of liquor stores sued to have the question tossed out by the courts.

Why it mattered: SQ 792 -- set to go into effect in October 2018 -- will have major implications on the way beer is distributed and purchased in Oklahoma. First, the measure moves Oklahoma to a so-called single-strength system, effectively doing away with the need for low-point beer. Second, it allows grocery, convenience and drug stores to sell strong beer up to 8.99 percent ABV. And it does indeed allow liquor stores to refrigerate beer. There are many more changes and many more nuances as well. As for the court challenge, a hearing on the liquor stores' motion for a temporary injunction is set for Feb.14 in Oklahoma County District Court, records show.

Top 10 Oklahoma craft beer stories of 2016: No. 4

We've reached the final four of our list of top 10 craft beer stories for Oklahoma in 2016. Selecting the 10 stories on the list was a challenge, but ranking the top four was especially difficult. I'm sure different folks could arrange this list in a number of different ways!

Before we get to No. 4, you can click here to scroll through Nos. 5 through 10.

Without further delay, here is...

No. 4

The news: Four-pack of new breweries launch

What happened: Three new brick-and-mortar breweries completed construction and opened their production facilities and taprooms in 2016: Beavers Bend and Mountain Fork in McCurtain County and Twisted Spike in Oklahoma City. In addition, Prairie Artisan Ales founder Chase Healey launched a new company -- American Solera -- after Choc acquired Prairie. (And as a bonus, Dead Armadillo opened its taproom in 2016 as well.)

Why it mattered: I put a lot of stock in the term brick-and-mortar -- when a brewer makes that kind of investment and gets his or her own skin in the game, as they say, I think it's worth recognizing. (No disrespect meant whatsoever to any contract or gypsy brewers out there!) Also, the key to growing beer tourism in Oklahoma is providing locations/destinations, so that's another reason to celebrate new brewery/taproom openings. Adding four or five of those locations in one year is certainly noteworthy.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top 10 Oklahoma craft beer stories of 2016: No. 5

We've reached the half-way mark in our countdown of top 10 Oklahoma craft beer stories of 2016.

Before we get to No. 5, you can scroll through Nos. 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 right here to get caught up.

But now, on with the show, here is...

No. 5

The news: Stone and New Belgium coming to Oklahoma.

What happened: Beer distributor Oklahoma Beer Imports announces in December that it will bring both the Stone and New Belgium brands into Oklahoma in early 2017.

Why it mattered: Although both are entering the market with somewhat limited selections of their beer, it's hard to look past the symbolic importance of Stone and New Belgium arriving in Oklahoma. The Sooner State is one of the last few that both companies don't currently distribute in, and while 2016 also saw the likes of Oskar Blues, Rahr & Sons and Magic Hat arrive (not to mention several new brands brought in under the Craft & Barrel umbrella), there's little room to dispute that Stone and NB are the biggest new brand additions the state has witnessed.

Top 10 Oklahoma craft beer stories of 2016: No. 6

Good morning beer fans! Hope you're enjoying our countdown of top 10 craft beer stories for Oklahoma in 2016. This morning we're almost halfway home, as we reach No. 6 on the list.

First, feel free to check out No. 10, No. 9, No. 8 or No. 7.

Now, on with the show. Here is...

No. 6

The news: Mustang is sold; Mustang and Elk Valley seek new homes

What happened: Mustang founder Tim Schoelen announced in July that he was stepping aside and a new owner would take over day-to-day operations of the company. Mustang's new principal owner, Scott White, announced he would move the brewery to Edmond, however those plans fell through and White later announced a move to the Automobile Alley area. This news meant that Elk Valley -- currently brewing at Mustang's Meridian Avenue location -- would also seek a new location of its own in 2017.

Why it mattered: Although it has experienced a somewhat tumultuous existence, Mustang remains one of the longest-operating brewers in the state, beat to incorporation only by Huebert, Choc, Marshall and COOP. The company has always enjoyed a loyal following and was also one of the first Oklahoma craft brewers to test the waters in the low-point grocery store market. If Mustang does indeed end up joining Prairie and Twisted Spike in Automobile Alley, it would create Oklahoma City's first true craft beer district. Meanwhile, beer fans are enthralled with each new release from Elk Valley, and many will be watching with interest to see where founder and brewmaster John Elkins lands in 2017.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Top 10 Oklahoma craft beer stories of 2016: No. 7

This afternoon we're moving forward with our list of top 10 craft beer stories for Oklahoma in 2016.

Just in case you missed them, you can click to see No. 10, No. 9 and No. 8.

Checking in next on the list is...

No. 7

The news: Nothing's Left, Renaissance, Vanessa House hold launch parties

What happened: Three new Oklahoma brewing companies were introduced to the market in 2016, including Nothing's Left (in April), Renaissance (in July) and Vanessa House (in September). All three launched in a contract brewing set-up, with Nothing's Left brewing at Anthem, Renaissance brewing at Dead Armadillo and Vanessa House brewing at O'Fallon in Missouri.

Why it mattered: Several brick-and-mortar Oklahoma breweries got their commercial starts through contract or gypsy brewing, including Mustang, Anthem and Dead Armadillo, so it's always worth noting when new brewers hit the market, as today's brewer could be tomorrow's tap room.

Top 10 Oklahoma craft beer stories of 2016: No. 8

Today we're continuing our countdown of the top Oklahoma craft beer stories for 2016.

We covered No. 10 and No. 9 yesterday.

Now we're ready for...

No. 8

The news: COOP Ale Works wins 2016 Metro 50 Award.

What happened: Not only did COOP claim a spot on the Metro 50 list, the company checked in at No. 10 in the rankings, which measure the success of established and up-and-coming companies in the Oklahoma City-metro area.

Why it mattered: Metro 50 Awards recognize and rank companies based on their percentage of annual growth over a three-year span. To qualify, companies must have revenues of at least $1 million for the previous year. COOP's ability to hit No. 10 on the Metro 50 list shows that the craft beer business in Oklahoma is not merely a starving-artist type situation -- it's as viable a driver of economic activity in the state as any other company, in any other field.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top 10 Oklahoma craft beer stories of 2016: No. 9

As we prepare for the arrival of 2017, I'm saying so long to 2016 by continuing my countdown of Oklahoma's top 10 craft beer stories for the year.

If you missed No. 10 from earlier today, you can see that right here.

Now we've arrived at...

No. 9

The news: Homebrewers announce brewery plans

What happened: We all expected that when Senate Bill 424 passed into law -- allowing brewers to sell their own full-strength beer out of their own buildings -- that quite a few new breweries would likely pop up. And indeed, that appears to be the case, as award-winning homebrewers like Ross Harper (Angry Scotsman Brewing) and Matt and Beth Conner (Frenzy Brewing) announced they were looking to turn pro.

Why it mattered: Several homebrewers said they would try and turn pro if SB 424 were passed, but if there's any place where talk is cheap, it's in the business of starting a brewery. Seeing people go public with plans to open pubs proved that SB 424 could indeed hold the power to alter the local beer landscape in several ways.

The top 10 Oklahoma craft beer stories of 2016: No. 10

The year 2016 is rapidly drawing to a close, but before we ring in 2017, let's take a look back at the top stories from the Oklahoma craft beer scene from the past year.

This week I'm playing Casey Kasem and counting them down -- from No. 10 all the way to No. 1.

This truly has been a landmark year for beer in the Sooner State, and settling on the top 10 news stories was a fun exercise. It was super-easy for Nos. 1, 2 and 3, but pretty tough for Nos. 4 through 10.

Anyway, check out the blog this week for the rundown, and feel free to sound off if you think I missed something, or if you think I have them in the wrong order.

Here we go...

No. 10

The news: Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival expands to two days

What happened: In its sixth year of existence, the annual Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival for the first time was extended to three sessions spanning two days.

Why it mattered: The move signaled the growing popularity of the OCBF and the expanding reach of craft beer in Oklahoma City and the state as a whole.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Liquor store group sues to up-end SQ 792

A group of state liquor stores has filed a lawsuit to try and have State Question 792 thrown out.

The court challenge, reported on Monday afternoon by The Oklahoman, has been long-expected.

The liquor stores argue that SQ 792 in unconstitutional because it allows grocery and convenience stores to have an unlimited amount of licenses to sell wine and some strong beers, but only allows liquor stores to have two licenses to sell liquor.

At this point, I will provide the obligatory reminder that according to State Sen. Stephanie Bice -- one of the authors of the legislation that turned into SQ 792 -- liquor store owners were offered the option to own several licenses to sell liquor, but argued against that.

As Bice stated, they did not want to allow liquor stores to have too many licenses because they feared franchises like Spec's and Total Wine would come into Oklahoma.

That being said, it's totally within their rights to sue. It's a free country. We will have to see how this plays out in the courts.

Will the courts decide that the government is within its rights to use different regulations for companies that sell liquor and those that don't? We shall see -- but to me, that appears to be the central question in this case.

Although it has no real bearing on the court case, it is worth noting that SQ 792 passed with more than 65 percent support from state voters.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Weekend bottle releases set in OKC, Tulsa

Happy Friday beer fans!

As we get ready for the weekend, I'm sure quite a few are still digesting the news from yesterday that both Stone and New Belgium will arrive in Oklahoma in February.

The reaction to my blog announcing that news was mixed -- on the whole, people are excited to see a couple big brands come to Oklahoma.

Many people were lukewarm on the beers that will be coming at the outset, while just as many were pumped that Fat Tire would be here.

Some people expressed dismay at my use of the term "flyover state" to describe Oklahoma. I didn't necessarily think that terminology would cause any animosity when I elected to use it, but I can see why some in the craft beer community might have been offended.

For what it's worth, there was no intention to low-ball the quality of the current selection of craft beer in Oklahoma, especially from our local brewers. Do I think the addition of Fat Tire makes Oklahoma a better craft beer state? No. I would still pick any number of tremendous local beers first.

When I wrote flyover state, I was referring to what it means symbolically to have those brands coming to Oklahoma.

At the end of the blog, I wrote this:

"The craft beer culture in Oklahoma is growing, evolving and thriving. There's no reason our producers can't turn out sought-after beer and there's no reason the likes of Stone and New Belgium wouldn't be interested in being here."

I felt like that was me saying, "hey, we're pretty damn good already, so why wouldn't those guys want to be here?"

But, I guess that sentiment did not resonate. Anyway, that's how I feel. Stay tuned for next week when I can offend someone else in the alcohol industry!

As they say, you can't win 'em all.

Speaking of local craft beer, our local brewers have quite a bit going on in the next little while. How about a rundown?

-Elk Valley is releasing a new version of Nemesis tomorrow. Whiskey Barrel Mole Nemesis, with Ancho chiles, cacao nibs and cinnamon is set to drop from the brewery at noon. Bottles will be $10 a pop, but there is a six-bottle limit. And Elk Valley reserves the right to change the limit based on how many are in line, etc. The original Whiskey Barrel Nemesis was tremendous, so expect this to be a hot item as well.

-American Solera is releasing a pair of very interesting-sounding beers at noon tomorrow at the brewery. Holiday Open House is an English barleywine that has been more than two years in the making. It was aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels for 18 months and then bottle-conditioned for another 12 months. Also for release will be Old Dishoom, an old ale aged in Sherry barrels with a mix of Brett cultures added.

-Mustang is hosting an Ugly Sweater Christmas Party from 3 to 9 p.m. tomorrow. The party will feature beers made in collaboration with a pair of local homebrew clubs: Blackheart Christmas Stout from the Red Earth Brewers and Christmas Ale from the High Plains Draughters. There will also be complimentary leg lamp cookies.

-If you haven't been out to the recently opened Twisted Spike taproom, they are hosting food trucks today and tomorrow: Wicked Hangry at 4 p.m. today and Blue Donkey Food Truck at noon tomorrow.

-Speaking of food trucks, Marshall is hosting Harden's Hamburgers today at noon.

-405 Brewing is shuffling over to Roosevelt's in Tulsa for an FDR Launch Party at 5 p.m. Dec. 22.

-Anthem is hosting a Festivus Party from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 23, featuring the new 2016 version of Festivus on tap and prizes for feats of strengths. I'm told there will also be airing of grievances.

-Looking a little further ahead, The Root is hosting a Roughtail Little Blue Pils Pint Night on Jan. 4, featuring some cool co-branded glasses.

-And lastly, Choc/Prairie announced they are hiring for a variety of positions, and will probably be adding even more positions over the next several months. If you're interested in that, click here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Stone, New Belgium coming to Oklahoma

The days of Oklahoma as a craft beer flyover state appear to be numbered: both Stone Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co. will debut here in February.

That news was confirmed today as officials with Oklahoma Beer Imports revealed both brands have selected the company to handle sales and distribution for their accounts.

Consumers can expect to see several different beers from each brewer in bars and liquor stores, and possibly as early as the first week of February.

Here's what to expect to see from each -- but be aware that these offerings are subject to change:

From Stone:

-Arrogant Bastard (draft, cans)
-Delicious IPA (draft, bottles)
-Go To IPA (cans)
-Stone IPA (draft, bottles)
-Ruination IPA (draft, bottles, cans)
-Ripper Pale Ale (draft, cans)
-Wussie Pilsner (cans)
-Possible Anniversary beers

From New Belgium:

-Fat Tire (draft, bottles, cans)
-3.2 Fat Tire (bottles, possibly draft)
-Dayblazer Easygoing Ale (cans)
-Citradelic IPA (drafts, bottles)
-Voodoo Ranger IPA (draft, bottles)
-Possible seasonals

At first blush, the hardcore beer fans will spot some notable omissions (Enjoy By, Lips of Faith, etc.), but for an opening salvo, there is a lot to like as well. Any of the IPA offerings from Stone will be welcome, and Voodoo Ranger IPA (a reformulation of the hop bill in Ranger IPA) is one I'm interested in.

I also thought the 3.2 Fat Tire was interesting. That means that, yes, you will see New Belgium in the grocery store.

You should expect to see a series of pint nights and special tap takeovers to welcome both brands into the state, although such plans have not yet been finalized.

So what about the bigger picture? Why are these brands pulling the trigger on Oklahoma now? You can't help but think that the passage of State Question 792 had a profound impact on that.

In January of 2015, when Senate Bill 383 was first introduced -- then as the modest liquor store refrigeration bill -- I reached out to both Stone and New Belgium.

At that time, a New Belgium rep told me refrigeration was indeed a key consideration for them. They were watching the political landscape in Oklahoma. At the time, I wrote that it was a matter of when and not if for New Belgium.

Now, just shy of two years later, both are here. Again, is it coincidence that their plans to enter the Oklahoma market were finalized within a few weeks of Oklahomans voting in favor of alcohol law reform?

At the same time, that small sense of inevitability doesn't diminish the symbolic significance of what's happening here.

The craft beer culture in Oklahoma is growing, evolving and thriving. There's no reason our producers can't turn out sought-after beer and there's no reason the likes of Stone and New Belgium wouldn't be interested in being here.

And finally, we don't have to accept a fate of being a flyover state any longer.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

COOP TROAIS release highlights busy beer week

Now that it's really getting cold outside, what better time to partake in a boozy, smoky imperial stout, right? Or how about a delicious winter warmer? Well have no fear, because your local bars and brewers have your back.

COOP Ale Works is hosting a Territorial Reserve Oak Aged Imperial Stout release party from 4 to 8 p.m. tomorrow (12/8) at the brewery, 4745 Council Heights Road. From the COOP FB page:

"It has been over a year since we bottled the last Territorial Reserve Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout and we are excited to announce that it is being release again on December 8th.

The 2016 Imperial Stout is the first of the updated Territorial Reserve Barrel Aged Series to include the new bottle design by local artist, Matt Goad. The series pays tribute to the pioneering settler and features limited run, barrel aged beers that highlight the staple brewing grains in each offering. Our team continually scrutinizes and refines each vintage in a quest to perfect our vision for these styles.

This beer began with a wagon full of eight different grains and aged for 13 months in bourbon barrels before blending to create a spirit-forward experience. Savor accordingly... it's 13.5% ABV."

The beer will be offered for $8 for a 12-ounce pour, or $16 for a 12-ounce pour and a limited-edition glass. Bottles are $15 and cases will go for $156.00.

Other happenings...

-The Patriarch is hosting a Rahr & Sons Winter Warmer Pint Night with glassware at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

-TapWerks is wrapping up its Four Nights of Oskar Blues promotion with Death by Coconut Irish Porter tonight and then Barrel Aged TenFidy Imperial Stout on Thursday. Both nights start at 6 p.m.

-Anthem is hosting a Taproom Pint Night at 5 p.m. Thursday featuring Uroboros. The brewery is located at 908 SW 4.

-Twisted Spike is hosting its official brewery and taproom grand opening from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday.

-Oak & Ore is hosting a Prairie Coffee Noir Brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, featuring Christmas Bomb! glassware.

-Looking a little further ahead, the Deep Deuce District has scheduled a Christmas Crawl from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16. This looks like a fun night, and it'll benefit Infant Crisis Services, but for the life of me I can't figure out if there's a certain prescribed crawl route you're supposed to take. As best I can gather, participating venues are WXYZ/Aloft, Urban Johnnie, Anchor Down, Deep Deuce Grill, WSKY, Slaughter's Hall, The Wedge and Skinny Slim's. More info available here.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Twisted Spike on track for public launch

Twisted Spike Brewing Co., the seventh brick-and-mortar, full-strength craft brewery to open in the Oklahoma City metro area, is ready for its public debut.


Beers from the Automobile Alley brewery -- the brainchild of founder, brewmaster and former homebrewer Bruce Sanchez -- will be on tap tonight at The Patriarch for an official launch event.

Featured beers at The Patriarch will be Dirty Blonde, Golden Spike Saison and Twisted Stache Milk Stout. The event kicks off at 6 p.m., with special glassware while supplies last.

The Twisted Spike debut tour will continue next week, with a pint night set for 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6 at Oak & Ore, and then things will really get exciting on Saturday, Dec. 10, as the brewery hosts its official grand opening.

The event is set for noon to 9 p.m. at the brewery, 1 NW 10 (north side of the street, right next to the train tracks).

Sanchez will have pints, bottles, growlers and even kegs available for sale.

If you'd like to support Twisted Spike but can't make it out to any of those events, you'll have another chance later in the month. Twisted Spike will be featured at pint nights at both of the metro-area Pub W locations at 6 p.m. on Dec. 29.

Congrats to Bruce, and welcome to the local beer game!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Automobile Alley home to three breweries?

What if I told you that by the middle of next year you could go to Automobile Alley and walk to three different breweries?

That situation has a very distinct possibility of becoming a reality.

We know that Twisted Spike Brewing is nearing a public opening on NW 10 this month -- maybe within a few days -- and that Prairie's OKC brewpub along NW 8 is expected to open in late spring or early summer of 2017.

But you may not have known that Mustang Brewing is also looking at Automobile Alley.

Mustang majority owner Scott White had plans on moving his brewery from 520 N Meridian to a spot in Edmond, near Kelly and NW 150. Those plans fell through, and it appears Mustang has settled on a nice alternative near NW 9, near where Hillbilly's is located.

White said plans call for multi-unit development with several companies under one roof, including the Mustang brewery, a rooftop bar and event center, and a farm-to-table-style restaurant, He said he is looking at a June opening date.

The plans actually would not be that dissimilar from what Prairie has planned for the area.

Can one small area of the city sustain two such ambitious projects? Will there be enough companies to fill in the buildings and make things work?

If it does all works out -- I say if because things tend to change pretty quickly in the beer business -- the area could be established as Oklahoma City's first modern brewery district, featuring three breweries within three or four blocks of each other.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

No reason to be angry if liquor stores challenge SQ 792

You may or may not know who Jerry Fent is.

During my 12-plus-year career as a reporter and editor at The Oklahoman, I become quite familiar with his name.

Fent was often referred to as a gadfly -- by the dictionary definition, it's someone who "persistently annoys or provokes others with criticism, schemes, ideas, demands, requests, etc."

Fent was in the news because he took it upon himself to annoy our state's lawmakers. A longtime Oklahoma City attorney, he would scrutinize bills passed by the legislature and sue if he thought they were unconstitutional. He's actually still at it right now, taking on the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority most recently.

He has a enjoyed a great deal of success. Many people who know that the concept of legislative logrolling is unconstitutional probably know that only because Fent challenged several such laws that wrapped multiple unrelated topics into one bill. For me, Fent is the reason I know exactly what our single-subject rule is all about.

As court ruling after court ruling would side with Fent, throwing bills out as unconstitutional, people would complain -- why is he doing this? Why is he constantly challenging the will of the legislature, and by extension, the will of the people?

Of course, he wasn't doing anything wrong. Every court decision that went his way served to validate our governmental system of checks and balances. People actually should be thanking him for getting bills that are unconstitutional thrown out. Fent sends a firm message to the legislature time and again: You need to do better.

And so that brings us to State Question 792. The alcohol reform measure was passed overwhelmingly during Tuesday's election. Support came in above 65 percent -- a particularly emphatic result, especially for a state like Oklahoma (Surprise! We like our drinks!).

What's not a surprise is that the liquor store lobby is getting ready to play Jerry Fent on 792. They already challenged the measure in court to try and keep it off the ballot, and are on the record as saying they would challenge again if it passed the vote. They're currently soliciting donations to fund their legal battle. What will be troubling for some is that when they tried to get the measure stricken from the ballot, the judge on the case, while allowing it to stay on the ballot, openly expressed concerns about its constitutionality.

Now, since I'm fairly certain I'm blacklisted from pretty much every liquor store in the state at this point, I don't suppose it'll sting too bad to say that I don't believe those challenging 792 are as altruistic in their intentions as Fent would be.

Do I think they really care if 792 is unconstitutional as a matter of pure principal? No. Do I think they want to get it thrown out because they don't want Walmart to sell $10 wine and steal all their sales? Yes.

And that's fine! Thing is, it doesn't really matter what their intent is. It's totally their right to challenge the measure. If they take this thing to court, and it gets struck down as unconstitutional, it's not much different than what Fent has done numerous times.

While there will be much hand-wringing if it shakes out like that, I'm sure, and it may delay the inevitable reform that will one day come to Oklahoma's laws, it will serve an important purpose.

It will allow the voters to tell the legislature to get back to work and do better. To get a law on the books that is not unconstitutional. I for one have seen our legislature try any number of shenanigans, and I'm happy to see the courts keep them in check when they don't do the right thing.

To be clear, with 792, I don't believe there was any intent whatsoever to skirt the law. All the same, let's get something ironclad on the books.

And who knows, maybe the liquor store efforts will be in vain and 792 will stand. The crux of the liquor store argument right now is that 792 is unconstitutional because it doesn't treat all stores that sell alcohol the same. Many people believe that argument doesn't hold water because grocery stores and liquor stores aren't the same -- while both would have wine and beer, one would not be allowed to sell liquor, and one would. (Also, grocery stores wouldn't be able to sell beer above 8.99% ABV.)

How will the courts view that argument? It'll be interesting to see it play out.

In the meantime, the people of this state have spoken rather forcefully. Change is coming. We may just need to practice a little patience on the way.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Support SQ 792 and support the state's good liquor stores

There are some great liquor stores out there.

With great people inside. Some of them know a whole heck of a lot more about their products than I do. A lot of them are really nice people, too, always friendly and welcoming. And some of them have really great selection in their store as well, with an abundance of locally made products.

I think of 2nd Street Wine in Edmond, Freeman's and The Well when I think of all these traits. Those are just places I frequent. I know there are plenty of others as well.

This blog is about State Question 792, but it's about liquor stores, too.

As I've written on the blog over the past several months, I don't buy many of the arguments being forwarded by the liquor store lobby on why Oklahoma shouldn't pass SQ 792. There is one argument I do agree with to a certain extent, however.

That some liquor stores will go out of business if 792 passes. Emphasis on some, with more explanation to follow. I hope, and I believe, that places like 2nd Street and Freeman's will not go out of business. We need more of those places in Oklahoma.

Unfortunately, the liquor store I happened upon last Thursday evening in Edmond is not one of those places.

It's not a store I would normally visit, but I was not taking my normal route home from work and when I passed it -- knowing I wanted to pick up some beer and a bottle of wine on the way home -- I decided to stop in because I wasn't sure if any other stores would be on the way.

When I went inside, I found a paltry beer selection. A grand total of three Oklahoma breweries were represented. Those opposed to 792 have said the beer selection at grocery stores won't be any good if the measure passes. Was this store a preview of the supposedly horrible selection I can expect at the grocery store?

The wine selection featured no discernible organization, other than reds mostly on one side and whites on the other. No signage indicated which styles were where. I was left to scan over pretty much the entire stock to find what I was looking for.

When I went to the register, I was second in line.

The man in front asked the clerk -- a middle-aged man who appeared to be an owner or manager -- what his opinion on 792 was.

The clerk at first attempted to defer, rather gruffly telling the man to read the measure and see what he thinks.

The customer pressed, saying he didn't want to read the measure, he just wanted the man's opinion.

The clerk relented. "If I told you that some other store could sell all the wine and beer that I sell here, what would you say that would do for me?"

"I would say that would probably hurt your bottom line," the customer replied.

"Well there you go," the clerk said.

And standing there listening to this conversation, I thought, "Is that your whole argument against it?" And it occurred to me that, yes, some liquor stores will go out of business when they lose a big chunk of their $10 wine sales.

And maybe that's sad. Not to sound too cold-hearted, but maybe it really isn't.

I'm thinking all this back-and-forth in my head as the man in front finishes checking out. Now it's my turn at the front. I move up and next to the counter, I see a grocery cart filled with bargain and close-out items.

Right on top is a bottle of Metaxa -- a Greek whiskey (more like fire water, as I can recall) that my dad always had around the house when I was growing up. I picked up the bottle just to see it, noticing it was covered in some serious dust.

"You want that?" the clerk said.

No, I replied, telling the clerk my dad was Greek and he used to have it around and I was just sort of admiring it.

"What's it like?" the clerk asked.

"Like fire water -- it's got some serious burn," I said out loud. In my head, I said, "YOU TELL ME! It's your store and your product! You don't even know what you're selling here? You couldn't even jump on the Internet and do some research for two minutes?"

And right then and there, the one argument from the liquor store lobby that I actually agree with -- some liquor stores will go out of business -- really became solidified as not all that important to me anymore.

(Of course, I disagree vehemently with the position that as many as half the state's liquor stores will go out of business. The math behind that assumption is fuzzy at best and based on apples-to-oranges reasoning. This, naturally, hasn't stopped anyone from making the argument repeatedly.)

After all, if you're running a retail business, you have poor selection, you make no effort to support local vendors, your store lacks organization and attention to detail, your customer service is sketchy and borderline rude and you lack knowledge about your own products, maybe you SHOULD go out of business.

Now, I understand there is a human element to this. The people who run liquor stores are not soulless, faceless nobodies. Many of the ones I've met over the years are very good people who work tremendously hard so they can pay their bills, save for their kids to go to college, and so on.

I don't WANT any of them to go out of business if 792 passes.

But in trying to move this state ahead, the possibility that some really sub-par retail establishments could close shop is not a reasonable argument for me not to support 792.

So that's where I stand. Get out and support 792.

And if you visit a liquor store with good customer service, and good selection, and they seem like they're actually happy you're in the store, and they support local vendors, remember to continue to get out and support them, too.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Oak & Ore plans four-pack of coffee beer brunches

Oak & Ore started serving brunch one year ago, and now the Plaza District spot is marking that occasion by hosting a series of special Sunday coffee beer brunches.

O&O will feature a different Oklahoma City brewery or beer company each Sunday in November, beginning tomorrow with Elk Valley.

"We're really grateful for the support we've received from the Plaza District, Oklahoma craft brewers, and especially from our customers whose feedback has helped us evolve our brunch menu," said Micah Andrews, Oak & Ore owner.

Tomorrow's Elk Valley brunch is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature limited-release coffee beers, branded coffee mugs (while supplies last) and free bacon for guests who dress up in the day's theme. The theme Sunday is "Open Season" (camo or outdoor apparel).

As an aside, there's definitely something to be said for coffee beers. When you can cover 50 percent of my drink groups (beer, coffee, water, wine) in one drink, you're really being efficient. And technically, beer is made out of water, so I'm gonna count that as 75 percent.

The featured beers tomorrow are Magic Barrel Sour, Bourbon Oaked Sweet Revenge Imperial Milk Stout, Whiskey Barrel Coconut Nemesis and Coffee Nemesis. There will also be Elk Valley beer-mosas.

Future brunches are Vanessa House on Nov. 13, Anthem on Nov. 20 and COOP on Nov. 27. All brunches are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., except for the COOP brunch, which is set to start at 10 a.m.

Here are some details for each event:

Nov. 13: Vanessa House will lead a Superhero Brunch to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. There will be special brews on tap in collaboration with Coffee Slingers Roasters, free bacon for folks who dress as superheroes, superhero mixed-tape beats specially curated by the Vanessa House crew, hero and villain appearances from Jedi OKC, limited edition mugs, raffle prizes, and more.

Nov. 20: Anthem will be brewing up their first ever coffee version of Uroboros Imperial Stout to be served alongside other limited beers. Special edition Anthem mugs will be given out with the purchase of an Anthem beer.

Nov. 27: COOP Ale Work’s Wakin’ and Bacon Toaster Brunch will feature a broadcast of indie radio station’s The Spy FM’s “Toaster Brunch” reggae-centric Sunday morning show, live from Oak & Ore. Oak & Ore will be open at 10 a.m. to kick off the “Toaster Brunch” broadcast. COOP will feature its Coffee Gransport Porter and Elevator wheat beer-mosas with free bacon for customers dressed in 70s-themed attire. Free “This is probably beer” coffee mugs while supplies last with the purchase of any COOP beer.

As a side note, I still think it's cool that you can hold an event or series of events featuring only Oklahoma City beermakers. Not to sound all "I used to walk to school uphill both ways in four feet of snow," but, not too long ago there weren't four OKC brewers to feature. And never mind the fact you actually don't even have to stop at four now. Anyway, rambling over. Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Impressive Stout Day plans on tap

Several pubs have announced plans for International Stout Day festivities, including some impressive lineups at TapWerks and The Patriarch.

Here's a rundown of what you can expect, with apologies to any bar not included here.

TapWerks

The fun kicks off at 5 p.m. Thursday with a series of hourly flights.

5 p.m.: Anthem Orange Chocolate Imperial Stout; Marshall Wine Barrel Aged Black Dolphin Stout; Tallgrass BBBS with vanilla and cinnamon; Iron Monk Chocolate Habanero Stout.

6 p.m.: Anthem School's Out Milk Stout; Bricktown Brewery limited-release stout; Destihl Cerise Imperiale.

7 p.m.: COOP TROAIS 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, plus 2015 with coconut.

8 p.m.: Anthem Pumpkin Uroboros; Prairie Pirate Bomb!; Prairie Paradise with extra coconut; Omnipollo Yellow Belly.

The Patriarch

Festivities begin at 3 p.m. with hourly tappings.

3 p.m.: Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti

4 p.m.: Clown Shoes Atomic Coffee Unidragon

5 p.m.: Big Sky Ivan the Terrible

6 p.m.: Avery Tweak

7 p.m.: Founders KBS

8 p.m.: Clown Shoes Amandine Exorcism

9 p.m.: Prairie Birthday Bomb!

Also on tap: Elk Valley  Nemesis, Iron Monk Milk Stout, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, Prairie Bomb!, Anthem Uroboros, Elk Valley Coffee Nemesis, Marshall Black Dolphin Stout, Mustang Peanut Butter Stout and Avery The Czar.

Pub W-Memorial Road

Pub W is featuring an Elk Valley Tap Takeover tonight with Nemesis, Coffee Nemesis and Coconut Nemesis. On Thursday, they will feature 405 Brewing's Little Giants.

Pub W-Norman

The Norman location is featuring Elk Valley Nemesis tonight, and a 405 Tap Takeover at Thursday with Little Giants, Grapefruit Sour and Hybrid.

Roosevelt's

The Tulsa pub is hosting Local Night tonight stating at 4 p.m., featuring stouts from Marshall, Prairie, Elk Valley, Iron Monk and Anthem. The highlight of the night will be a series of Marshall Black Dolphin Stout variants aged on barrels for one year -- and on nitro no less -- including traditional BDS, White Wine Barrel Aged BDS, Red Wine Barrel Aged BDS, Tequila Barrel Aged BDS and Rum Barrel Aged BDS.

The stout madness will continue on Thursday when Roosevelt's taps offerings from Evil Twin, Big Sky and Destihl, in addition to everything else already on tap.

Slaughter's Hall

The Deep Deuce spot has advertised stouts on tap and flights on Thursday, but no specific details available as of this morning.

Elk Valley to debut new saison

Thursday night may be International Stout Day, but that's not stopping Elk Valley from rolling out a new beer that's pretty much on the opposite end of the style spectrum.

Elk Valley will debut Sunset Saison at the brewery at 6 p.m. Thursday.


From the Elk Valley FB page:

"There's nothing quite like drinking a refreshing saison right out of a can (by the lake, of course). This brew uses a very simple grain bill and focuses on the character of the yeast, without getting too funky. I'm very fond of this one, and hope you all will enjoy it, too!"

The beer will be available in six-packs and cases with no limit. They're selling it for $11 per six pack ($44 for the case).

Monday, October 31, 2016

Patriarch, TapWerks plan Stout Day festivities

It may still be warm and sunny outside, but the annual International Stout Day is upon us -- it's set for Thursday, Nov. 3 -- and a pair of metro-area bars are rolling out impressive lineups to mark the occasion.

In Edmond, The Patriarch is starting things off at 3 p.m. with hourly tappings lasting through the night. Their stout list for the day includes:

-Marshall Black Dolphin
-Elk Valley Nemesis
-Elk Valley Coffee Nemesis
-Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
-Prairie Bomb!
-Prairie Birthday Bomb!
-Founders KBS
-Anthem Uroboros
-Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti
-Clown Shoes Amandine Exorcism
-Clown Shoes Coffee Unidragon
-Avery Tweak
-Mustang Peanut Butter Stout
-Iron Monk Milk Stout Nitro
-Avery Czar
-Big Sky Ivan the Terrible

The Patriarch is expected to post a tapping schedule early this week.

Meanwhile, TapWerks will continue its tradition of hosting Stout Day, this year featuring 16 stouts offered in flights of four on the hour, starting at 5 p.m.

TapWerks list will include:

-COOP Territorial Reserve Oak Aged Imperial Stout 2011
-COOP Territorial Reserve Oak Aged Imperial Stout 2012
-COOP Territorial Reserve Oak Aged Imperial Stout 2013
-COOP Territorial Reserve Oak Aged Imperial Stout 2014
-COOP Territorial Reserve Oak Aged Imperial Stout w/coconut
-Omnipollo Yellow Belly
-Prairie Pirate Bomb!
-Special releases TBA from Anthem, Iron Monk and Marshall

Look for the tapping schedule from TapWerks early this week as well. I'll share both bars' plans once they are posted.

Pints and Pins

-In case you missed it, I rolled out a new feature on the blog last week. My new GAB (Grab a Beer) Ratings can be found right here. I'm building out a list of rankings for places in the metro where you might like to grab a beer. Check out the page, and feel free to email me a rating if you like.

-Your McNellie's group pint nights for Oct. 31 (Happy Halloween, by the way!): Rogue Dead Guy at Oklahoma City; Guinness Special Edition Gilroy Glass at Tulsa; Elysian Space Dust IPA at Tulsa-South; and Anthem Uroboros at Norman.

-The Patriarch is busy this week. Not only are the taking on Stout Day, but they are hosting a Founder PC Pils Night at 6 p.m. Wednesday. And the first OK Ale Trail beer run is set for Saturday.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Mountain Fork Brewery going high-point

As you would know if you were a loyal reader of this space, there are two commercial breweries in southeastern Oklahoma.

Both Beavers Bend Brewery and Mountain Fork Brewery -- located in Hochatown, just north of Broken Bow -- started off producing low-point offerings. That was a reflection of the fact that McCurtain County had not authorized liquor by the drink until 2015.

With that change in hand, and with the enactment earlier this year of Senate Bill 424, the question was, how long would they stay low-point?

We have an answer now as far as Mountain Fork is concerned.

Brewmaster Aaron Preston told me this past weekend that Mountain Fork's taproom is going high-point within the next couple weeks.

While they will continue to produce some low-point offerings on draft for local restaurants, Preston has plans for at least four different high-point beers so far. Check out the labels:





The latter two labels are currently offered at the tap room in low-point style. I was able to try a flight of all the offerings this weekend, and I enjoyed the Hop Time Gal, as well as Tabb's Dirt Road Stout, which carried great coffee notes for a low-point beer.

One other Mountain Fork item worth passing along: Preston is working right now on a two-barrel brew system, but by 2017, he expects to be on a 20-barrel system in an expanded brewery building. Seems like there's plenty of room for growth on the Hochatown beer scene.

Meanwhile, Mountain Fork is not the only state brewery with plans for new beers. Dead Armadillo looks like they also will be busy, brewing for themselves and for another beer company.


According to federal label-filing records, Dead Armadillo is looking to brew a Dunkelweizen, which I don't believe they have done up to this point, although I have been wrong one time before.

I think Dunkelweizen -- in today's IPA and sour ale craze -- is one of the more underrated and under-appreciated beer styles. 

At the same time, according to label filings, it appears Dead Armadillo will also be taking on a project for Hanson Brothers Beer Co.


Hanson as you may remember worked with Mustang Brewing once upon a time to brew Mmmhops, and now it looks like they're moving a little closer to their Tulsa roots.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Man-Made Earthquake, Plaza Beer Walk highlight upcoming calendar

I just spent a good amount of time scouring through the Internets to find out what all the upcoming beer events are, so you don't have to. Apologies to anyone I missed. Enjoy!

-The Root in the Paseo is hosting a Vanessa House pint night at 6 p.m. today. The night will feature musical performances by Buddy South, Carter Sampson, Gentry Counce and Brad Fielder.

-The Patriarch is hosting an Elk Valley Flight Night at 6 p.m. on Thursday, featuring at least six Elk Valley beers, including 2016 Pumpion.

-American Solera is hosting back-to-back Man-Made Earthquake release dates this week. The two-pack of parties is set for 4 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday at the Tulsa brewery. This is one of the more intriguing beers we've seen in a while. It's a 15% ABV tripel aged in whiskey and cognac barrels for 18 months, and then bottle-conditioned for a year. Bottles are $16 a pop, and there's a six-bottle limit.

-Marshall is debuting Bound for Glory Bourbon Barrel Belgian IPA on Friday at their taproom. You can stop by from noon to 7 p.m.

-Roughtail is hosting a session of Bend & Brew yoga at 11 a.m. Saturday. Tickets are $20 and are available here.

-Next Wednesday, Oct. 26, is the monthly Plaza Beer Walk. This month the featured brewery is Kansas' Tallgrass Brewing. The lineup of beers is: Top Rope IPA and Big RICC Imperial Stout at Empire Slice; Pub Ale English Brown and Flyin' Hawaiian Pineapple IPA at Saints; 8-Bit Pale Ale and Buffalo Sweat Stout at The Mule; and Songbird Saison, Zombie Monkey Robust Porter and a cask of Apple Cinnamon-spice Pub Ale at Oak & Ore.

-Anthem is hosting a taproom pint night on Oct. 27, featuring Ogletoberfest. Festivities run from 5 to 9 p.m.

-COOP is holding a party to celebrate the 2016 release of Grand Sport Porter. The event is set for 4 to 8 p.m. More details available here.

-Did you know the Iron Monk taproom is now open Monday through Saturday? Hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 1 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Also, tours are set for 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

-Keep your eyes open for an announcement coming soon on the opening of Twisted Spike Brewing. They've got their first set of beers brewed at the Automobile Alley location, so it appears only a matter of time before they can flip the lights on at the tap room.

-Choc/Prairie is hiring a new brewer for its Automobile Alley brewpub location. More info on that here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: Roughtail Adaptation No. 6

So, here I am. It's past 11:45 p.m. on Friday, and I'm sitting here at my kitchen table savoring a glass of Roughtail Adaptation No. 6. I may or may not be listening to Vince Guaraldi Trio Charlie Brown Christmas music, but that's really none of your business.


Point is, I grabbed a four pack of Roughtail's Adaptation No. 6 today. What's that? You don't have your own four pack yet? Sorry about that.

The beer is set to be released tomorrow -- Saturday, Oct. 15 at the brewery during the Adaptation No. 6 release party. High noon.

Be there or be square.

So, how about Adaptation No. 6? Let's cut to the chase -- it is good.

You will probably want to get out to the brewery tomorrow at high noon, because this may be one of the most aromatic beers I've ever seen, or smelled, in my life.

Seriously though, the aroma will straight up knock your socks off. I'm talking serious, serious tropical fruit aroma. Plus some mango. I might be inclined to say this is like dry-hopped Citra on steroids. (Although the main hops are fresh Mosaic flown in from the hop fields and added to the whirlpool the next day. Roughtail brewmaster Tony Tielli told me they watched for the UPS tracking notification, and timed the brew to match up with the hops' arrival.)

The appearance is a nice, golden orange that's actually a lot less hazy than I anticipated.


As far as mouthfeel goes, this beer is very satisfying. It's got a certain creamy, fullness to it that just hits the spot and lets you know you're not drinking some stupid fake "craft" beer at Chili's.

The taste of the beer is outstanding. The tropical fruit carries the day, I would say. It's obvious up front and carries through nicely, lingering on the end in a pleasing way. The beer is not overly bitter, so if your wife or girlfriend doesn't like IPAs, you should have her drink this. I'm serious.

Overall, the beer is dank, massively aromatic, hoppy and not overly bitter. Late-addition hops are the star of the day. It's aggressive, yet restrained, if that makes sense.

Tielli told me this beer is very similar to Adaptation No. 2. If you liked that, than you will almost undoubtedly like this.


Roughtail has produced 260 cases of this. I'm sure many of those cases will be snapped up tomorrow, so you'll want to act fast.

There will be a few kegs on tap at the brewery, but Tielli said he wasn't yet certain if any kegs would hit the open market. He also wasn't sure how many cases of cans would be sent out to distribution. My feeling was he was going to see what happened on Saturday before making that decision.

You definitely can do worse than heading out to Roughtail at noon to score yourself a few cans.

Catching up with Vanessa House

Congrats on making it to Friday beer fans! 

Today, I'm bringing you an interview with Andrew Carrales, head of sales and marketing for Vanessa House Beer Co.

Following a whirlwind last couple weeks, with launch events in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, I asked Carrales to reflect on how things are going for the new beer company.

The Thirsty Beagle: Now that you've had a minute to sit back and reflect on your opening events and introduction to the consumer market, how do you assess how everything went?

Andrew Carrales: We have been out at various events, for a little over a year now, telling our story and sampling out the beer we hoped to produce. We made a lot of new friends/fans along the way. To see people we’ve connected with, like Steven and Maggie at our Slaughter’s Hall party and David and Jenny at our Roosevelt’s party in Tulsa, was amazing. Those are people we didn’t know a year ago. We had hoped to create those types of connections, but to actually see people choose to come hang out with us was a very humbling feeling. At both those events the beer moved very well. Slaughter’s Hall was particularly amazing, moving 15 cases in under an hour. We have also been hearing very positive things from liquor stores as well. We know many have put in multiple orders already. So overall we feel that things have gone great so far. We still have plenty to learn, for sure, and it seems like we are learning something new every day. We really cannot thank the craft beer community enough. The consumers, the homebrew clubs, our great local breweries, everyone really, have all been very supportive.

TTB: You guys brewed your first batch at O'Fallon -- do the plans call for that relationship to continue, and if so, what's the next thing you're looking to brew?

AC: Yes, O’Fallon has been great to work with and we are still working on our “forever home,” so to speak. We really can’t say enough good things about them and about how much they have helped us through the process. We are targeting our next beer release to be in January, which will be the 5th Keg Milk Brown. It is the first beer our brewer, Evan Smith, came up with. It is a beer that started as a brown, but with the addition of lactose and light and dark candi sugar, became its own thing. It is a very smooth, sweet, and complex beer that comes in at about 8% ABV. We take this beer everywhere we can, and it always gets a rave reviews. We played around with releasing it first, but with it being a bigger, dark beer we saved it for the colder months. We are really excited to get the beer out. We call it the 5th keg, because we literally lost a whole keg of it. Classic Vanessa House. It was back in the early days when we didn’t really label things well. We could only find 4 kegs (none of which contained the brown we so craved) and there was some debate between the VHBC crew on whether we owned 4 or 5 kegs. Depending on who you ask, it either got dumped down the drain or the 5th keg disappeared somewhere into the mystic, never to be drank from again.

TTB: Are you guys eventually eyeing your own Oklahoma City brewing facility?

AC: Yes, that is our end goal for sure. Do you know someone with a building with super low rent? Oklahoma is a crazy state to start in brewery in right now. We have been in the planning mode for seems like 4 or 5 years, where the last 2 years has been us really making tangible progress toward our opening. Early on, we were constantly changing up our business model. We started thinking we would just buy a place, build our production brewery, and go to work. We realized pretty quick with our access to funds that was not feasible. We played around with taproom models, but at that time it would have to be 3.2. We just didn’t see a 3.2 taproom model working in the long run. With the uncertainty in our laws, we decided the best way to move forward was to contract. Now that we have some more clarity on what we can and can’t do, we are actively looking for a spot and hope to nail something down sooner rather than later.

TTB: I'm sure you're following the potential changes in our state's alcohol laws. Are you guys taking somewhat of a wait-and- see approach on your future growth/plans depending on how things shake out?

AC: We have been kind of playing the “wait and see” game as we figured out how to open. Now, with 424 in effect, we know we can have a taproom, and that in and of itself is huge for us. So right now we have more clarity on what we are going to do, even with the things still left to be decided in November. One thing that I think will help us in the long run with all the legal uncertainties is the O’Fallon relationship. We can open a small taproom brewery, and still have larger production coming out of O’Fallon. Ultimately we’d like to have our own production facility, so I’m not sure that is where it will be in the long run, but that is an option that I think is a benefit to us. Also, it gives us a reason to take a beer trip to St. Louis every once in a while. They have this really cool brewery up there, maybe you have heard of Budweiser? Amongst others like Side Project, Perennial, and 4 Hands.

TTB: With the law changes, a lot of people are planning or thinking about starting up breweries. What advice do you have for those who are just starting to get into the game?

AC: Do your research, be patient, and don’t get discouraged! This is a very complex industry. Like I mentioned earlier, we are still figuring things out, and that is with years of planning. Talk to breweries, sign up with the Brewers Association (you gain access to a ton of great info), meet as many people in the industry as you can, and ask questions. I think the biggest thing is fighting through all the setbacks. Once you really get into the process of opening you will have more 90 degree turns than you can count. There were so many times I was SURE we were going to be brewing in the next month but then something changed or something didn’t get done in time. Those type of things can get you down, but just remember they happen to every other brewery as well. Also be willing and ready to accept negative feedback. When you are out talking to people you will get the truth, and that’s not always going to be positive (and that’s OK). Knowing what to take seriously and what to dismiss is important. Hearing those things, the unexpected delays, and just things not happening how you want can be very discouraging. We are still very new and have not hit the point that more establish brewers would tell you “makes it all worth it,” but man we wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I will say that just seeing our beer on tap and on the shelves is pretty awesome though, and that does make it seem like it has been worth it so far.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Patriarch plans CF fundraiser

Happy hump day, beer fans!

If you're looking for something to do this week, you can have some beer and support a good cause at The Patriarch on Thursday.

The Edmond pub is hosting a ping pong fundraiser tournament to benefit The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Oklahoma.

The event is set for 6:30 p.m. to midnight. Here are some details from The Patriarch's FB page:

"Fellow good Samaritans! Our community has a proven track record of stepping up to help each other in difficult times and circumstances. To continue in this spirit, we're hosting a charity ping pong tournament Thursday, October 13th to benefit the Siler family and their daughter Hayden through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The entry fee is $20 and can be paid in cash or check at the time of the event, or at http://challonge.com/cv7q6v27. Roughtail Brewing Company and Anthem Brewing Company have partnered with us by donating entire kegs of beer for the event! 100% of the proceeds from the donated kegs, 100% of the tournament entry fees, and a percentage of The Patriarch's sales for the day will be given to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to help support the foundation and families like Hayden's."

On another Patriarch-related note, be sure to mark Nov. 5 on your calendar -- that's the date of the city of Edmond's first pub run, The OK Ale Trail. The 5K run includes local beer on the course, live bands and food trucks. You can get more info here.

Pints and Pins

-One of our better annual beer-tasting events is rapidly approaching. The fourth OKBio Brewfest is set for Nov. 10, and they'll once again host the event at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. You can find out more about that here.

-The Cigar Box in Midwest City is hosting a COOP tap takeover on Friday. Details here.

-In case you missed the OKCTalk article on Prairie's new Automobile Alley location, you can see that here.

Friday, October 7, 2016

COOP eyes string of new low-point variants?

You know, I'm glad COOP Spare Rib exists. For a low-point beer, it's a solid pale ale with a nice hop character -- it shows brewers can indeed make good low-point beer.

And, more importantly, I can stock up on four-packs of Spare Rib while I'm at my local grocery store on Sunday morning.

So I was especially intrigued recently when I came across a string of potential new low-point recipes from COOP, many appearing to be variants of Spare Rib, Briefcase Brown and Negative Split.

Federal beer label approval records show COOP may be scheming a number of interesting new flavor profiles -- some that look as if they ripped the pages right out of my homebrewing playbook (Hello, peppers and raspberries!).

All the approvals were for keg collars, so these may not be items that make it to the grocery store. I asked a COOP rep what the exact plans are for these beers, but have not yet heard back. One can speculate that they may be intended for taproom and public event purposes.

So what do we have? Let's first look at the Spare Rib variants: Pad Thai Pale Ale (pale ale with coconut, cumin and peppers), Spicy Hawaiian (pale ale with pineapples and peppers) and Beermosa (pale ale with orange peel, tea and cinnamon).





Next we have the Briefcase Brown variants: Cacao Coconut Briefcase Brown (brown ale with chocolate and coconut) and Mumbai Business Meeting (brown ale with tea, cinnamon, clove, ginger and all-spice). 



And finally there are the Negative Split variants: Sometimes Love Burns (Belgian-style ale with raspberries and peppers) and Waiting For My Kokosnoot (Belgian-style ale with coconut).




Definitely some interesting stuff there! And how about a bonus item: Label records show that COOP may also be pointing toward a full-strength Horny Toad off-shoot featuring blood orange:


I'll keep you updated if/when I hear back from COOP on any potential distribution plans for these beers. It's important to remember that these label approvals do not necessarily mean the beer will ever make it to market. But they generally are a good indicator of a brewery's likely plans. Stay tuned, and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Review: 2016 Elk Valley Pumpion

Elk Valley's 2016 Pumpion is set to drop from the brewery tomorrow afternoon, and if you already have plans for 3 p.m., you may want to adjust your schedule.

I had the chance to try this year's vintage tonight, and it scores high marks for me.


First, some details: Elk Valley is holding a special release event with a food truck from 3 to 8 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 6) at the brewery, 520 N Meridian Ave.

They will make available 45 cases of the beer at the brewery. They're setting a one-case-per-person limit, while reserving the right to adjust the limit depending on what kind of line might form prior to 3 p.m.

Another 80 cases will ship out on Friday to liquor stores in Oklahoma and Arkansas. In addition, a pair of kegs will be on tap at the brewery. Six other kegs will find their way to Oklahoma bars -- likely two to Tulsa and four to Oklahoma City. So you get the idea -- not a lot of this beer will be available.

OK, so what about the beer?


I thoroughly enjoyed it -- actually still enjoying the last couple sips as I type. Here's my review:

-Aroma: I found it to be boozy, alcoholy (is that a word? It is now), sweet and delivering a roasty caramel undertone.

-Appearance: It's got a wonderfully rich, brown copper color. Very little to no head retention.

-Mouthfeel: Maybe this sounds kind of weird, but I expected the beer to have a thin mouthfeel. However, it absolutely did not. In contrast, I thought it had a sort of creamy mouthfeel that coated your tongue and lingered nicely. There is very little carbonation in this beer.

-Taste: Bourbon, bourbon and bourbon. It had very subtle notes of oak and spices, just a touch of alcohol heat, and hints of sweetness, raisin and nutmeg. As it warms, the sweetness comes out a little more.

-Overall: This is an exceptionally smooth, tasty and warming drink. It was easy to drink for a 12.4% ABV beer. The pumpkin and spices are very subtly present -- they're definitely not the star of the beer. The star is the bourbon.


And no wonder -- the beer was aged for one full year on oak bourbon barrels. In fact, that aging -- in my estimation -- makes this a superior beer to the 2015 vintage. To me, the 2015 version drank hot, maybe even a touch abrasive.

The 2016 Pumpion has had time to smooth out and fully develop its roundness. Elk Valley brewmaster John Elkins told me that he is very pleased with this year's beer. He intentionally dialed down the spices compared to 2015 and sought to make this beer as smooth as possible.

I would say he hit the mark.

Oh, and a bonus: How about Mrs. Beagle's review?

"Tastes like fall deliciousness. Pairs well with a campfire. Shut your mouth."


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Will AB InBev merger impact Oklahoma's small brewers?

News came out last week that shareholders for both Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller overwhelmingly approved AB's $103 billion takeover of SABMiller, thereby clearing the last major hurdle standing in the way of the mega-merger.

It got me thinking about that usual question: What does it mean for small brewers in Oklahoma? That answer is actually a little nuanced.

For starters, what does it mean on its face?

When all is said and done, AB will fortify its role as the world's largest beer company, controlling almost a third of the planet's beer sales, according to news reports. AB will become the fifth-largest consumer goods company in the world.

The beer behemoth will also gain access or increase access in the African, Latin American and European markets.

The merger is actually expected to have little immediate impact in North America, however. The reason? In order to get the blessing of the U.S. Justice Department for the merger, AB had to agree to sell SABMiller's interest in MillerCoors North America. That means any growth in the latter company will be realized by Molson, not AB.

Besides, those in the know report that the apple of AB's eye in this takeover is really Africa, a particularly strong market for SABMiller.

But that doesn't mean there won't be an eventual impact closer to home. The conventional thinking is that as AB grows and expands into new markets, its power and clout will grow. And then all the things AB is doing that craft beer purists don't like -- buying up successful craft breweries, putting out "crafty" products and trying to eat up space on grocery store shelves with exclusivity deals -- it will continue to do those things and possibly do them more and in more aggressive ways.

In order to get a feel on how things will shake out for those within the industry here in Oklahoma, I put the question to a pair of local beer professionals.

Wes Alexander of Tulsa's Marshall Brewing Co. said the issue he's eyeing is distribution, noting that since AB wasn't able to have MillerCoors North America in its portfolio, it may look to use its new international might to trounce the company in order to elevate its own brands in the market place.

"Here in the Midwest, many craft brewers use MillerCoors houses for (distribution)," Alexander said. "Clearly AB will look to crush MillerCoors brewery and distro with price in North America."

So while the consumer may enjoy low prices for the Goose Islands of the world, an AB price war could force some MillerCoors distribution business to shutter. The result?

"Less access to to market for craft," Alexander said.

Meanwhile, back across the state in Midwest City, Roughtail Brewing Co.'s Blaine Stansel said he believes the impact on small brewers may not be that significant, citing the idea that AB and local craft brewers are seeking to serve two distinct sets of customers.

"Make good beer and consumers will buy it -- end of story," Stansel said.

Stansel specifically addressed the pay-for-play issue.

"Who cares if a bar owner gets paid to feature a product?" he said. "Grocery stores get paid to carry certain cereals and jam, and whatever else, and you don't hear people whining about that."

Stansel said the area that would concern him would be if the new and more massive AB started to play political games and lobbied to have the laws changed to blatantly disadvantage small brewers. Even then, Stansel said, that's something AB could do now if it wanted.

The mega-merger is expected to become official on Oct. 10. Beer observers in Oklahoma, and around the world, will be watching to see what happens.

So, what else is going on?

A lot of local eyes will be on Elk Valley Brewing Co. this Thursday, as brewmaster John Elkins releases his 2016 vintage of Pumpion, the popular imperial ale brewed with pumpkin spices and aged on oak bourbon barrels.

The release is set for 3 to 8 p.m. at the brewery, 520 N Meridian Ave. Only a relatively small amount of the beer will be available to take home, as Elk Valley is making 45 cases available from the brewery on Thursday, with a one-case-per-person limit set as of right now.

The beer will be available on tap at the brewery as well, and is expected to be released to liquor stores on Friday for regular package distribution.

Many people have just now -- if you watch the Untappd feeds -- been cracking open their 2015 Pumpion. I myself have one set back in the fridge and am looking to do a side-by-side with the 2016 version.

The 2016 vintage has been in barrels for a year, and early reports suggest it will be drinking very well on Thursday.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Choc to move bulk of production to McAlester

Now fully in control of the production of all Prairie beers, Choc Beer Co. is finding things a little cramped at the Pete's Place brewery in Krebs.

In a move that has been building for some time as Choc has grown its production, company officials have finalized a deal to move the bulk of production and storage to McAlester.

The move is being aided by a $1 million grant from the state Commerce Department, buoyed by plans by Choc to add 30 jobs over the next three years, according to a report in The Oklahoman.

Choc also is putting up nearly $1 million in matching funds.

This move is not surprising -- Choc has been on an upward growth curve for several years, memorably adding a 50-barrel brewing system a few years back that the company purchased from Sweetwater Brewing Co.

This development of course raises the question of what will become of the original brewery attached to Pete's Place? According to the report, Choc plans to maintain the restaurant and original brewery. Perhaps we will see a situation similar to Boston Beer Co., where the original brewery serves as a space for recipe development and public tours.

So what else is going on in the beer world?

Roughtail Brewing hosted yet another successful special can release on Friday. This time, beer drinkers lined up for a chance to purchase a Citra wet-hopped IPA -- the base beer was Everything Rhymes with Orange, but the regular hop bill was swapped for fresh hops flown right in from the hop fields and canned a few hours before folks started lining up.

Yes, as you may have suspected, the beer is delicious.

The entire supply of cans, 60 cases, was gone in less than 40 minutes. Clearly Roughtail is taking full advantage of SB 424. Curious about what they've got coming up next? Adaptation 6, wet-hopped with Mosaic, is due for release on Saturday, Oct. 15.

Meanwhile, the latest Oklahoma beermaker to make a commercial release, Vanessa House Beer Co., held their official launch party on Friday at Slaughter's Hall in Deep Deuce. They also burned through some beer, to the tune of 15 cases in under an hour. If you missed that, their debut beer -- 401K Cream Ale -- will be on tap at The Patriarch this Thursday. The same night, they'll hold a Tulsa release party at Roosevelt's. Keep your eye on the blog for more on Vanessa House.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

New DFW brew pub scores high points

I have relatives in the DFW area -- Rowlett, Texas, to be exact -- and there's one thing the Beagle family has always known when traveling down to visit family:

Stock up on beer before you get into city limits.

While the DFW area has seen a massive proliferation of craft beer choices, the northeastern suburb of Rowlett was generally not involved in the boom. The grocery stores there have been allowed to sell craft beer, but with the city being partially dry, liquor stores and craft breweries were not welcome.

Until 2015, that is, when residents there voted to go fully wet. Within the past year, we've seen two liquor stores open up in Rowlett, and more recently, the city's first craft brewery has come alive.


Bankhead Brewing Co. has been open about a month now, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised following my visit there this past weekend.

I actually went into the trip with relatively low expectations. That was certainly influenced by the fact that Rowlett has zero reputation as a hotbed for craft beer. But Bankhead scored some major points.

I sampled through all eight of their tap offerings and immediately noticed that all were brewed right on the money when it comes to style accuracy.


And they were brewed quite well, too. The beers ranged from the accessible Devil Wagon Munich Helles lager to the aggressively hopped Hop In IPA. I especially enjoyed the Gussy Up American raspberry wheat and Janet's Brown, the American brown ale that any good homebrewer would recognize from the "Brewing Classic Styles" handbook.


Brewery officials told me they wanted to craft a variety of beers -- like the lighter lagers and their hefeweizen -- to cater to beer drinkers in the area whose palates may not be suited to aggressive hops just yet. At the same time, they've tipped their cap to hop-heads who would appreciate a four-hop blend heavy on Citra and Cascade.

And they're eyeing some more envelope-pushing brews as well, including a barrel-aged Gose and a bourbon-chocolate oatmeal stout.


Aside from the beer, the decor and vibe at Bankhead were on point -- a great blend of brick, wood and steel that gave the pub a modern-yet-rustic feel.


You can see the old Ford bar-front in that pic. The brewery is named after the old Bankhead Highway, which was constructed in 1916 to connect Washington, D.C., with San Diego. Several hundred miles of the roadway crossed through Texas, including right through Rowlett. So the brewery is named after the roadway, and you can see the automobile imagery carried trough in its branding.


You can score beer in four-ounce samples, by the half-pint or pint, or by 32- and 64-ounce growlers. If you're sticking around to drink your selection, you should take up a seat in the patio area, which was terrific. Even better, the food was tremendous. I ordered a salmon-brussels-risotto combination that was off the charts. They also feature a brick oven to spin out a selection of fire-roasted pizzas.

So, overall, two enthusiastic thumbs up for Bankhead Brewing. It's a must-visit if you happen to be in the east or northeast DFW area.

I'll leave you with a few bonus shots of their brewhouse: