The Thirsty Beagle: February 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Back from the brink to deliver your beer news

Let me just say this: The flu sucks big-time.

I've been laid up the past five days with a pretty nasty case -- chills, fever, coughing, the whole nine yards -- and I'm just now feeling even halfway able to fire up the computer and crank out a post.

And it's a good thing, too, because there's a lot going on!

Let's start with Thursday.

The Root is hosting a special Twisted Spike night at 6 p.m. featuring co-branded glassware, a selection of four Twisted Spike brews on tap and a special infused offering orchestrated by brewmaster Bruce Sanchez himself.

Meanwhile, up in Edmond, The Patriarch is hosting a joint Prairie/Prairie Brewpub/American Solera night, starting at 6 p.m. They're offering up 13 different beers (more details here) along with food from The Saucee Sicilian food truck (try the Mt. Etna!).

So what else is making news?

-Well, there's big news in Norman, as 405 Brewing is set to open its taproom. That's set for noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the brewery, 1716 Topeka St. They'll have lunch from The Meating Place and glassware and T-shirts for sale.

-Marshall is holding a big shindig on Friday to release its tasty seasonal Revival Red Ale. The event kicks off at noon at the brewery, and will include traditional Revival, plus a series of variants: Blood Orange Revival, Saison Red Ale and Too Hot to Handle habanero-infused Revival. More details here.

-Saturday is big day for Elk Valley Brewing as well, as brewmaster John Elkins spins out another brewery-only release. This time it's Blanc, a Belgian-inspired white beer refermented in neutral barrels with wild cultures and then bottle-conditioned. More details on how you can score some of that beer here.

-Anthem is hosting live music at the brewery Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Check their FB page for more details.

-And finally, Vanessa House has a pair of events upcoming: On Saturday, they'll be serving up a keg of their newest beer, 5th Keg Brown Ale, on nitro at Anchor Down. That's at 6 p.m. and features special co-branded glassware. Then on Monday, Packard's is hosting a special Fried Chicken and Beer Night featuring VH, with tickets going for $25. I think we all can agree fried chicken and beer are a match made in heaven.

OK, that's about all the brainpower that I have left! Apologies to any events I missed! Cheers!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Alcohol tax-hike bill passes House subcommittee

Happy Friday beer fans!

There was news from the state Capitol this week as House Bill 1686 -- a bill that would drive up the excise tax on beer and liquor -- passed a House subcommittee by unanimous vote.

The measure, which would increase the excise tax on a barrel of beer from $12.50 to $45, passed the House Appropriations and Budget Finance Subcommittee by a vote of 8-0.

The bill would also increase the excise tax on spirits, from $1.47 per liter to $3.50 per liter.

As I wrote last week, HB 1686 is especially troubling to Oklahoma craft brewers and distillers because they would be the ones to initially take the financial hit to cover the increased excise tax.

As groups that oppose the bill argue, that cost would eventually end up landing in the consumer's lap in the form of higher prices on beer and spirits.

Proponents of the bill by Rep. Harold Wright say it is needed because many retailers of low-point beer (read: convenience stores and gas stations) have not been properly remitting sales tax on beer. This takes money out of the state's budget, they argue.

HB 1686 would exempt beer and spirits from sales tax.

As bill opponents have pointed out, the real issue is retailers who do not pay sales taxes properly -- a tax collection/enforcement issue -- and it is not fair to simply shift the burden to manufacturers and distributors of beer and spirits.

Opposition to the bill is strong, and interestingly enough, some who were on opposing sides on State Question 792 now find themselves pulling the rope in the same direction.

On its Facebook page, the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma stated the group opposes HB 1686, suggesting it would give Oklahoma one of the highest alcohol excise tax rates in the nation.

"Although Rep. Wright's bill does eliminate sales tax on spirits and beer, the increase in excise tax results in significantly higher prices on the majority of spirits and beer sold in Oklahoma," the post states.

Beer Distributors of Oklahoma board Chairman Mitch Zaloudek released a statement describing the bill as "simply another revenue grab that the taxpayers will pay for."

"Representative Wright’s legislation ... is an anti-consumer measure that will raise the price of beer on Oklahomans and is a slap in the face to Oklahomans who approved SQ 792 last November," Zaloudek wrote.

Meanwhile, the advocacy group Modernize Oklahoma -- a spin-off pro-SQ 792 group -- argued that the bill would "cut the legs out from under Oklahoma’s emerging local craft beer and spirits community."

"HB 1686 is a massive tax hike on alcoholic beverages that will dramatically increase the cost of beer and liquor in Oklahoma. If it is passed, it will encourage consumers to shop out-of-state, where alcohol will be considerably cheaper," Modernize Oklahoma Executive Director Alex Weintz said.

The bill has now been forwarded to the full Appropriations and Budget Finance Committee.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dates announced for 2017 Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival

Get out your calendar, get out a sharpie, and circle May 12 and 13 -- those are the dates announced Monday for the 2017 version of the annual Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival.

This year's fest, the seventh edition, will return to the Cox Convention Center for a third straight year.

And once again OCBF will be spread over two days and three sessions, with a general admission session at 7 p.m. Friday, May 12 ($40); a VIP session at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 13 ($50); and a second general session at 6 p.m. May 13 ($40).

The VIP session will feature a special commemorative glass, brewers and/or brewery reps pouring samples and shorter lines.

Designated driver tickets will be available for $20, with all tickets going on sale in early April.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Brewers, alcohol industry wary of tax increase bill

Remember that time last year when we had that crazy legislative session that ended with us passing sweeping changes to our state's alcohol laws?

Those, my friends, were the good old days.

We've got some new days coming up -- the 2017 legislative session starts today -- but it will be hard to believe anything that can happen this year will be quite as impactful as what we saw in 2016.

That doesn't mean nothing interesting for alcohol beverage fans will happen, though.

Take House Bill 1686. The bill, introduced by Rep. Harold Wright, is a reincarnation of a measure tossed about over the past several years that would institute a massive tax hike on distributors and producers of beer and liquor.

The bill would increase the excise tax rate on alcoholic beverages -- from $1.47 per liter to $3.50 per liter for spirits; and from $12.50 per barrel to $45 per barrel for beer (yes, $45, not a typo). There is little doubt among industry members that such a tax hike on manufacturers and distributors of beer and spirits would result in a jump in prices for consumers.

And it could also prove crippling to some existing brewers and serve as a serious deterrent to business development for new brewers.

So why try this bill? It's a bit of a pet project for Wright, a Republican from Weatherford who has authored the measure previously and has been studying the issue since at least 2011. Proponents have argued in the past that the bill has merit because it would be easier to collect excise tax from beer distributors (that includes craft brewers) than it is to collect sales tax from gas stations and convenience stores, many of which fail to submit monthly tax receipts to the state Tax Commission.

As distributors and manufacturers have argued, the real solution should be a matter of tax collection enforcement. It should be about getting retailers to submit their tax receipts, not throwing the burden on beer distributors and small craft brewers.

So is this much ado about nothing, considering past versions of the bill so far have not seen a successful run through the state Capitol?

What makes some insiders nervous this year is that Wright is Speaker Pro Tem, and he may have more influence this year in moving the bill through the legislative process due to his leadership position.

Another interesting angle: The most recent version of the bill included only low-point beer, but since Oklahoma is set to move to a single-strength system in 2018, HB 1686 would not discriminate on the question of alcohol strength. If passed, the bill would go into effect in October 2018 -- the same time State Question 792 would go into effect.

You should expect to see several groups line up to oppose this bill. Notable groups that have opposed it in the past include the Beer Distributors of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Restaurant Association.

So, what else is happening on the local beer scene?

-This is the week for a huge amount of pint nights for Stone and New Belgium. Instead of re-hashing every one of the many events, I'll simply link to the Stone plans here and the New Belgium plans here.

-Roughtail will be at The Fur Shop today (Tuesday) for a special tapping of Powder (the beer brewed with an all-Mosaic-lupulin-powder hop bill).

-Iron Monk is hosting a Pint & Palette event  at 6 p.m. this Sunday. More info available here.

-Anthem is hosting a Beer & Palette event at 6 p.m. Feb. 14. You can check on tickets right here.

-Marshall's weekly Firkin Friday this week features a sneak peek of the spring release Revival Red Ale. Chai Red Ale is cask-conditioned and skips the traditional dry-hop in favor of an infusion of flavor from the addition of Chai tea spices.

-Also Friday, and also in Tulsa, Renaissance will be at Roosevelt's at 5 p.m. to launch Black Gold, an English-and-Irish-inspired hybrid stout.

-COOP announced this past weekend that the company's eighth anniversary (how is COOP eight years old?!) celebration is set for March 4. You can get more details here.

Friday, February 3, 2017

New Belgium set to drop Monday

Happy Friday beer fans!

I shared some info earlier this week on release plans for Stone; now here is some info on the arrival of New Belgium.

High-point beers from the brand best known for its ubiquitous Fat Tire are expected to arrive in state liquor stores on Monday, according to information shared by a local rep from Oklahoma Beer Imports. Then a full slate of pint nights are scheduled Monday, Wednesday and Thursday in the Oklahoma City area.

And there are events at some places we don't often see when we think of heading out to grab the latest beer offerings. Check out the list:

-6:20 p.m. Monday at McNellie's OKC

-7:30 p.m. Monday at TapWerks

-9 p.m. Monday at Hudson's Public House OKC

-10 p.m. Monday at Deep Deuce Grill

-5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Pump Bar

-7 p.m. Wednesday at Sauced

-8 p.m. Wednesday at Savings & Loan

-9 p.m. Wednesday at Red Rooster

-5:30 p.m. Thursday at Republic

-7:15 p.m. Thursday at Cock O' the Walk

-8 p.m. Thursday at Guyutes

-8:30 p.m. Thursday at The Barrel

-9:30 p.m. at Edna's

There are also events in Tulsa -- I searched and found the two listed below, but have not been provided with a comprehensive list. So, I think it's safe to assume there are more.

-5 p.m. Monday at McNellie's Tulsa

-5 p.m. Wednesday at Roosevelt's

So, next week is pretty much an insane week of beer, with Stone and New Belgium events filling up the calendar. This weekend is not so bad either, with brewery releases for Roughtail, Twisted Spike and COOP set for either tonight and tomorrow.

Grab a beer and stay warm!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Stone, Roughtail, Twisted Spike take spotlight

Real world got you down? Take a walk in the beer world, my friends.

And what's news in the beer world today? For starters, today is the day we're supposed to see bottled and canned offerings of Stone IPA and Stone Delicious IPA in state liquor stores. (Arrogant Bastard was expected, but has apparently been pushed back.) Draft offerings are scheduled to be rolled out on Monday, starting with a special edition of the Plaza Beer Walk.

On Tuesday, I shared a few Stone events I could confirm, but since then, I've got a complete list of Oklahoma City-area events. You can see that here:

-5 p.m. Monday at Empire Slice (Stone IPA, part of Plaza Beer Walk)

-6 p.m. Monday at The Mule (Ruination Double IPA, part of Plaza Beer Walk)

-7 p.m. Monday at Oak & Ore (Arrogant Bastard, part of Plaza Beer Walk)

-8 p.m. Monday at Saints (Delicious IPA, part of Plaza Beer Walk)

-5 p.m. Tuesday at McNellie's OKC (Ruination IPA)

-5 p.m. Tuesday at McNellie's Norman (Stone IPA)

-6 p.m. Tuesday at TapWerks (Delicious IPA)

-7 p.m. Tuesday at Hudson's Public House OKC (Stone IPA)

-8 p.m. Tuesday at Skinny Slim's OKC (Arrogant Bastard)

-5 p.m. Wednesday at Republic (Ruination IPA)

-6 p.m. Wednesday at Skinny Slim's Edmond (Delicious IPA)

-7 p.m. Wednesday at The Patriarch (Stone IPA)

-8 p.m. Wednesday at Pub W Memorial (Arrogant Bastard)

And there are also some Tulsa events (I believe there are more, so do not treat this as a conclusive list):

-5 p.m. Feb. 6 at R-Bar

-7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at Roosevelt's

-5 p.m. Feb. 8 at McNellie's-South

So, there's no excuse to miss out on the first run of Stone offerings next week. In the meantime, if you're looking for some new local beers to try before then, you sir are in luck.

-Roughtail is releasing its next canned beer this Friday at 4 p.m. This time it's Powder, a 5.5 percent ABV pale ale brewed exclusively with Mosaic Lupulin Powder. Interesting! The beer will be $10 per four-pack, with a one-case-per-person limit. Expect a line at the door and for this beer to move fast.

-Twisted Spike is also getting in on the act, with a release set for 4 p.m. Friday featuring Black Snake, a Russian imperial stout. This is the eighth beer offered by Twisted Spike so far -- an impressive level of diversity for a brewery that's only been open a couple months.