The Thirsty Beagle: March 2017

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Roughtail to open doors for fourth anniversary

If  you ever wonder if a couple homebrewers can get together and open a successful brewery, look no further than Roughtail Brewing Co.

Not too long ago, founders Tony Tielli and Blaine Stansel were a couple of the earliest members of the Red Earth Brewers homebrew club.

Now, nearly half a decade later, they're getting ready to celebrate four years as one of the state's more influential commercial breweries.

Roughtail will celebrate its fourth anniversary this Saturday with a party at its Midwest City brewery, 1279 N Air Depot Blvd. Festivities are 21-and-up and are set for noon to 9 p.m.

The event will include food trucks and live music, and of course a bountiful amount of beer with several special releases -- including 4th Anniversary Ale.

Here's the beer rundown provided by Roughtail:


Fair warning: I may physically fight someone over the curry Hoptometrist. (I had a curry OPA from Choc at one of the IPA Day celebrations at TapWerks a few years back, and I found that hops and curry are actually a very solid and somewhat underrated combo.)

You can find more info and details at the FB event page. Congrats Roughtail, and keep up the good work!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dates announced for OKC Craft Beer Week 2017

If you missed the news on social media yesterday, let me be the first to tell you that we now have dates for Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week 2017.

The fourth annual installment is set for May 12-21, to coincide with American Craft Beer Week.

One new wrinkle this year involves the Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival. For the past three years, OCBF has been featured as the culminating event of OKC Craft Beer Week.

This year, OCBF will fall at the beginning of the week and will lead the way for 10 days of festivities.

I'll share details on events as they are scheduled. And speaking of that, if you are a brewer, bar owner or taproom manager and you would like your event to be featured on the official publicity calendar, give me a shout. You can reach me through Facebook or at nick@thirstybeaglebeerblog.com.

So what else is going on?

-Reminder that tonight is the big Collaboration for Legislation event at Oak & Ore featuring special beers from Anthem, COOP, Marshall and Prairie.

-The Fur Shop is hosting a Dead Armadillo Inland Porter Pint Night today at 5 p.m.

-The Root is hosting a Tallgrass Brewing Raspberry Jam Pint Night at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The bar is also featuring Tallgrass Backpacker Brown as its Beer of the Week.

-Also Wednesday, American Solera is offering up Bright Black Delight, a sour blackberry ale, for sale in bottles and on draft. The brewery opens at 5 p.m. that night.

-Anthem is hosting a Beer Paws pop-up shop at the brewery from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, featuring "craft beer dog treats, dog beer, apparel and more." Leashed dogs are welcome in the taproom.

-COOP is releasing its 2017 Territorial Reserve Bourbon Barrel Aged Rye Wine at noon on Saturday at the brewery. Bottles are limited and will go for $15, with a limit of six per person. As a side note, COOP announced a limited amount of bottles and kegs will also be released for distribution beginning Monday.

-The latest offering from Prairie should be filtering its way into retail distribution in the next few days. Pe-kan (imperial stout with toasted pecans and vanilla) will be available in bottles and kegs.

-Twisted Spike is hosting food trucks this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. You can check their FB event page for full details.

-And finally, Oak & Ore is celebrating its second anniversary with a party from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. Here, courtesy their FB page, are the pertinent details:

-All 36 taps pouring Oklahoma beers
-Special releases tapped at the beginning of each hour 
-Hourly drawing for door prizes
-Attendees entered to win a one-time-only O&O anniversary T-Shirt 
-All week leading up to the party, children 12 and younger can eat free from the kids menu and customers can get a 20 percent discount on food from the regular menu with a Keep It Local OK card. We'll also be debuting several new menu items!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Black Mesa charting new course

If you've thought to yourself that things have been a little quiet recently for Black Mesa, you'd be right.

They haven't been out in the community as much as they used to, and we haven't seen much in the way of new beer from them.

Well, there is a good reason for that, and it appears we're about to hear a lot more from them in the near future.

For starters, the beermaker has seen a change in its structure, as original founding partner Brad Stumph has left the company.

Stumph confirmed this week that he parted ways with founder Chris Sanders in January, leaving Sanders as the sole owner/operator.

Sanders now is forging ahead, having set out on a new path that will include brewing some of the company's beer at Anthem's brewhouse in Oklahoma City, while still making batches at O'Fallon in Missouri, he said.

And it appears a series of new beers are on the way, including Black Mesa's first IPA. While the company has been teasing label images on its social media channels, public records reveal a look at label art submitted to the federal government for approval.

So let's see what we have:

First, there's an East Coast-style IPA, Big Wheel IPA.


And the hop train keeps rolling with Cave Dweller, a hoppy red ale that pays tribute to Neanderthals who migrated to Oklahoma's Panhandle.


There's a new label for Black Mesa's award-winning ESB.


And also a re-imagination of the labeling for their Kolsch.


Expect additional details coming from Black Mesa in the near future.

(Blogger's note: An earlier version of this blog incorrectly identified Black Mesa's current owner/operator)

Stonecloud climbs ambitious course toward opening

There likely are very few breweries in Oklahoma -- heck, maybe in the world -- who can say their brewery building for years had no roof, had trees growing inside of it and had a boat hanging from the rafters.

OK, maybe even "very few" is overstating it.

There's a good chance that odd confluence of circumstances has only happened once -- and it happened in Oklahoma City.

Say hello to Stonecloud Brewing:


OK, so that's not what Stonecloud looks like now. In fact, it's more like this now:


Interestingly enough, that picture of the fermenters is looking at about the same part of the building as the no-roof-boat-hanging-from-the-rafters photo -- if that gives you an idea on the magnitude of the transformation.

"It was hard to imagine what it could be," Stonecloud brewmaster Joel Irby told me recently as we toured the brewery. "It was in such bad shape."

If you haven't been keeping up, Stonecloud is located in the old Sunshine Laundry building along Classen, just west of downtown OKC.

The same developers who are helping launch Elk Valley's new brewery in Midtown purchased the building in October 2015 with eyes on developing it into a brewery, restaurant and office space.

The building was constructed in 1929 and served as an industrial laundry for many years, eventually closing in the mid-1980s. At some point, a huge portion of the roof was removed. Trees, weeds and shrubs took over the inside of the building. It became a haven for crude graffiti and a home for the homeless.

The taproom area prior to renovations. Photo courtesy Stonecloud Brewing.
Stonecloud's renovated taproom.


Enter the developers and Irby, a homebrewer in Stillwater who struck out for Colorado and ended up cutting his teeth with pro brewing jobs at Boulder Beer Co. and Avery Brewing.

After brewing for several years in Colorado, Irby decided to move home to be closer to family in Oklahoma, with intentions to open his own brewery.

Now, he's building out an impressive facility.

The whole building is open, light and airy. The taproom will have space for 75 patrons and room for 19 taps. It'll include RV plug-ins so food trucks can tap right in and not need to run a generator.

The 30-barrel brewhouse is all-new and is backed up by five 60-barrel fermenters, in addition to several smaller fermenters intended to handle sours and one-off projects.


Irby said he will work on a barrel program as well, and that his selection of styles will definitely include an IPA, but will range across the spectrum.

He's targeting an opening in late spring, but hopes to be brewing soon on his system so that he'll have about 10 or 12 beers on tap at opening.

One question I've had for some time was about his brewery's name. Where does Stonecloud come from?

Irby said it's a reference to clouds on the horizon in the distance, when you can't tell if the clouds are actually clouds, or if they're mountains.

That's an homage to his time in Colorado, where he grew to love climbing. In fact, he even had climbing equipment set into the bar top in the taproom.


"The mountains and climbing were such a big influence on me," he said.

Now Irby is climbing toward a new summit -- minus the Colorado mountains.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Oklahoma brewers get creative for return of Collaboration for Legislation

There's a super-interesting event coming up at Oak & Ore on Tuesday -- where you'll see several Oklahoma beermakers flexing their creative muscles.

Collaboration for Legislation: The Return is set for 5 p.m. at the Plaza District spot.

The event will benefit the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma as the association looks to keep momentum moving at the state Capitol for beer-related legislation.

Tuesday's event will feature four of seven beers produced in a multi-brewery collaboration. The base pale ale wort was created at Prairie in Krebs, then portioned off to the brewers to ferment and hop at their own discretion.

Oak & Ore will tap variations from Anthem, COOP, Marshall and Prairie.

-Anthem: Eureka! Pale Ale. Dry-hopped with Eureka and Mosaic hops.

-COOP: Pale ale featuring an aroma hop addition and three experimental dry hops added after fermentation.

-Marshall: Ekuanot Pale Ale. Fermented with American California yeast and dry-hopped with Ekuanot hops.

-Prairie: Version 1. Fermented with a mix of Brett strains, finished with house farmhouse yeast and dry-hopped with juicy hops.

You can learn more about the event here, and more about the CBAO here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Elk Valley finds new home in Midtown

Some really exciting news broke today (there's a lot of beer news going around, but more on that later) when it was revealed that Elk Valley Brewing will have a new home, and in Midtown no less.

As reported by The Oklahoman business writer Steve Lackmeyer, Elk Valley will be an anchor tenant in an ongoing redevelopment of the former Uptown Theater at 1212 N Hudson Ave.

Elk Valley founder and brewmaster John Elkins told the newspaper he plans to open his brewery and taproom by mid-2018.

Image courtesy NewsOK.com
It will be the culmination of a rather circuitous journey for Elkins, who started out homebrewing in his garage in his spare time while he worked as an airplane mechanic at Tinker Air Force Base.

From there, he founded Elk Valley and then gypsy brewed at Battered Boar and Krebs Brewing before moving into his current home at the Mustang brewery on N Meridian. There, Elkins has turned out a string of acclaimed beers -- Nemesis, Le Ferme and the more recent year-round Elk Valley IPA to name a few.

"It's been a long and rocky journey with all the moves," Elkins told me today. "I finally get to call this one home. I can't ask for a better community to be a part of."

With both Elk Valley and Mustang expected to move out their brewery this year, Elkins will have at least one more stop before landing in Midtown. He's expected to pick up his brewing at the Leadslingers Distillery in Moore (they're also building out a brewhouse there) while construction moves along at his own brewery.

Full disclosure here: I'm personally very happy for Elkins. I was lucky enough to get to brew with him and try many of his homebrews before he went pro. The man can make a beer, right?

And it's another example in a growing list of talented homebrewers who have found success in the pro ranks.

So, cheers to this new development, which will be a tremendous addition to the Oklahoma City beer scene.

How about that other beer news?

-If you missed my post from earlier today, then you missed the news that Ballast Point Brewing will make entry into the Oklahoma market starting in May. After scoring the accounts for Stone and New Belgium earlier this year, distributor Oklahoma Beer Imports has landed another big fish by bringing the California-based Ballast Point into the state. So, what beers will be brought in? This afternoon I scored the list of initial offerings: Big Eye IPA, Bonito Blonde, California Amber, California Kolsch, Manta Ray Double IPA, Red Velvet, Sculpin, Grapefruit Sculpin, Habanero Sculpin, Pineapple Sculpin and Victory at Sea.

-There's a new brewery-in-planning in Tulsa. Welltown Brewing is working on a downtown Tulsa location and eyeing a fall 2017 opening. You can find out more here.

-If you're a fan of Stone's Enjoy By series, be on the lookout for the first offering in that series to hit Oklahoma. We are expected to be on the list for Enjoy By 04.20.17. It should start arriving in stores within the next couple weeks.

-Anthem is hosting a pair of interesting-looking in-brewery beer dinners in April, featuring "8-10 courses of bar fare-inspired plates with beer pairings." Beer Club Night One and Beer Club Night Two will be April 3 and 4, respectively. Tickets are $75. More info available here.

-Iron Monk has some news: Their newly canned Chocolate Habanero Stout should be making its way to liquor stores this week. Also, they're hosting a St. Patrick's Day party on Friday. Details here.

-McNellie's OKC and TapWerks are hosting their traditional St. Patrick's Day events on Friday. WSKY Lounge is hosting an Irish Breakfast with drink specials on Friday as well. The Root is hosting a St. Patrick's Day Variety show Friday night. Also, Saints, Slaughter's Hall, Pub W and Skinny Slim's are offering specials. Apologies to any establishment that I missed.

-Marshall is putting on a special St. Patrick's Day Double Firkin on Friday, featuring Donnybrook Porter (cask-conditioned Big Jamoke infused with Jameson soaked oak) and Irish Coffee Stout (Black Dolphin infused with Irish coffee). The taproom will be open noon to 7 p.m., but make note that the firkin beers will only be available starting at 4 p.m.

-The Patriarch is hosting a National Corn Dog Day fundraiser on Saturday to benefit the Pat Summitt Foundation for Alzheimer's Research. The event will feature corn dogs, naturally, as well as tater tots and beer donated by Roughtail. More info here.

Another big-name brewer headed to Oklahoma

If you were excited for the arrival of Stone and New Belgium in Oklahoma in February, I have some news you might also like.

Ballast Point Brewing Co. is heading to our fair state as well.

Sources confirmed that news today, with an expected retail deployment in May for the California-based brewery.

At this time I do not have additional details, such as official launch date and the line-up of beers that will be offered.

But many will look forward to Ballast Point's popular Sculpin IPA and its offshoots -- Grapefruit, Pineapple and Habanero Sculpin -- among other offerings.

I will share more details as they become available.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Oak & Ore claims top award, preps for anniversary

A hearty congratulations is due to Oak & Ore after the Plaza District spot recently was recognized as the top craft beer bar in the state by readers of CraftBeer.com.

Oak & Ore scored the top honor for Oklahoma in the website's annual ranking of Great American Beer Bars.

You can see the whole list here, and search for Oklahoma to find the mention of Oak & Ore. Votes were collected in November and December, with more than 7,000 votes cast in all.

Oak & Ore obviously is being rewarded for its beer-centric focus, and has made quite the climb in its two years in business.

And that segues nicely into the next bit of news for O&O: They are getting ready to celebrate their second anniversary with a week of special tappings, culminating with a party on March 25.

Here's the scoop from a press release issued by the bar:

Special beer tappings and customer appreciation promotions will be held throughout the week of March 19.

The official two-year anniversary party will take place from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, featuring a flurry of special release beers being tapped each hour. All 36 taps will be filled exclusively with Oklahoma craft beer. There will be hourly drawings for door prizes, and attendees who purchase an Oklahoma craft beer will be entered to win a limited-edition Oak & Ore anniversary T-shirt.

Beginning Sunday, March 19 through Saturday, March 25, kids 12 and younger can eat free from the kids menu and customers can get a 20 percent discount on food from the regular menu with a Keep It Local card. The restaurant will also be officially debuting several new menu items.

That the anniversary plans coincide with the Great American Beer Bar title means a lot to Oak & Ore owner Micah Andrews.

“We’ve really focused our efforts this year not just on continuing to grow our business, but also by trying to contribute positively in this city and this state that we love,” said Andrews. “While 2015 was all about settling in and working towards being our best operationally, our second year gave us an opportunity to be more involved in our community, both in the Plaza District and the local craft beer culture. We were honored to help create an outlet for the public and local craft brewers to make known to legislators and state officials about important issues facing Oklahoma craft breweries. We were able to be more actively involved in causes in and around our neighborhood like Plaza Beer Walk benefiting local schools. It feels great to see that our customers appreciate and encourage those efforts, along with enjoying the quality of service we work to provide.”

You can bet there will be some worthwhile offerings to score during this celebration.

Meanwhile, you might want to put a visit to Oak & Ore on your list a little earlier -- like this Thursday -- as the bar hosts Rahr & Sons as that brewery celebrates its first year in Oklahoma. There will be eight beers on tap, special co-branded glassware and visits from Rahr & Sons beermakers. Festivities begin at 6 p.m.

So, what else is going on?

-If you just cannot wait for your Rahr & Sons one-year-in-Oklahoma fix, head to The Patriarch today (Tuesday) as they are hosting a Rahr night at 5 p.m. This one also includes commemorative glassware with the purchase of Rahr beer.

-Roughtail announced Monday that they now have a 32 oz. crowler machine, and they sort of half-cryptically announced you can stop by this weekend to have it filled with double-dry-hopped Everything Rhymes With Orange. Double-dry-hopped ERWO? I mean, that calls for like a national holiday or something. I checked in with Roughtail's Blaine Stansel, and can report that DDHERWO will be available on draft and for fills of crowlers or 32 oz. growlers only.

-Twisted Spike will be putting its Dirty Blonde Sanchez through the infusinator with clementine oranges this week. The fun begins at 4 p.m. today at the brewery.

-Anthem is hosting a brewery bottle release at 5 p.m. Thursday for its 2017 Babalon, a sour ale aged in wine barrels with cherries and raspberries added. The beer will be available in bottles with no limits, and on draft, however there will be no growlers.

-I got out to COOP's eighth anniversary party on Saturday and had a great time. The peach Alpha Hive, the older variants of TR Stout and the 2015 barleywine were tremendous. Plus, COOP's new taproom looks great. (If I could nit-pick, I'd say I could use a little more natural light in there, but that's just a minor gripe. I'm sure they'll have no problem knocking some holes in the walls to help me out.) Anyway, good to see the progress and continued success over there. Keep it up guys!

-Dead Armadillo recently announced they are beginning a barrel-aging program, just FYI.

-Couple items of note from up in Stillwater: Iron Monk is hosting a brewery St. Patrick's Day party on March 17, and they also announced they have canned their chocolate habanero stout. As an amateur connoisseur of pepper beers and someone who tried a one-off Iron Monk habanero stout a couple years back, I'm giving this a premature enthusiastic two thumbs up!

-Lastly, get your car gassed up for a trip down to Krebs this Saturday as Prairie will release a pair of beers: Okie Paradise and Bromance. From the Prairie FB page:

Okie Paradise is our imperial brown ale, Okie, that has aged in whiskey barrels for two years that has been blended with our rum barrel aged stout, Pirate Paradise. We finished this beer with toasted coconut and vanilla. 2,500 bottles // 6 bottle limit // $12 each

Bromance is an imperial brown ale that has been aged for two years in whiskey barrels. Sales of this beer benefit local charity Shared Blessings (http://sharedblessings.tv/). 400 bottles // 2 bottle limit // $12 each

Friday, March 3, 2017

COOP plans epic beer list for anniversary party

As mentioned earlier on the blog, there's a big party planned for tomorrow as COOP Ale Works celebrates its eighth anniversary.

It's hard to believe it's already been eight years for COOP, which really has come a long ways from its start-up in relatively cramped headquarters next to the Speakeasy, with a mere seven-barrel brewhouse (pretty sure it was seven, but someone can set me straight if not) and a highly labor-intensive, mostly-by-hand canning system.

Now of course, COOP touts one of the state's largest -- if not the largest -- state-of-the-art facilities, and churns out a variety of beer that is shipped to a variety of states in the region.

So perhaps an anniversary celebration of epic proportions is precisely what is called for.

Well, that is precisely what COOP is delivering.

The festivities are planned for 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the brewery, 4745 Council Heights Road, and in case you weren't aware COOP is going big.

Last night they unveiled a truly epic beer list, featuring dozens of offerings spread out over six different stations and spanning two sessions (11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.).

Here's the list:


As you can see, it's much easier to just paste that image as opposed to typing the whole thing out. More specifics you'll need to know: Tickets to attend are $20 for general admission and $50 for VIP access. You can score tickets at the brewery or by clicking here. More details are available on the COOP FB page or the FB event page.

Seems like you could do worse than checking out this event!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mashed In tickets available today

Big day today as tix for the annual Mashed In Homebrewers Showcase will be available at a trio of locations.

If you've never attended Mashed In, it's an event you need to consider adding to your list. Past versions of the event have featured dozens of homebrew varieties available for sample, and in an intimate setting where you can chat up the brewer about what they were trying to accomplish with their beer.

And it's good beer, too! We have an array of very talented homebrewers in the Oklahoma City area. If you keep up to date on your local beer, you'd know that breweries such as Roughtail, Elk Valley, Anthem and Twisted Spike -- among others -- all began with a homebrewing brewmaster who decided to take his talents to the pro level.

So you never know if that beer you sample at Mashed In may eventually end up on tap at a local bar or on the shelf at your favorite liquor store. Really, it's best to cover your bases just to be sure.

This year's Mashed In is set for 2 to 5 p.m. March 12 at TapWerks, and it's free to attend.

All you have to do to guarantee your entry is swing by TapWerks, The Brew Shop or COOP Ale Works starting today to pick up a ticket (must by 21 years old, limit two tickets per person, must pick up tickets in person). Organizers encourage you to check with the specific locations to learn about hours for pick-up.

You can learn more about the event here.