The Thirsty Beagle: Who's on the Mount Rushmore of Oklahoma beer?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Who's on the Mount Rushmore of Oklahoma beer?

If you like to consume sports talk, you've probably played the Mount Rushmore game with the NFL or NBA.

You know the drill -- who are the big four? Who would be carved on the mountainside as the most prominent, accomplished and significant members of any particular sports league, profession or walk of life?

I've been tossing the Mount Rushmore idea around for a few months now when it comes to Oklahoma beer. After much consideration, I've narrowed down my list. So without further delay, here is my Mount Rushmore of Oklahoma beer:

-Michael Lalli, Krebs Brewing: Lalli, the longtime brewmaster at Krebs (formerly Choc Beer Co.), is often considered the godfather of the modern Oklahoma craft beer movement. Many an aspiring brewer trekked to Krebs to see what Choc was doing. To this day, Lalli remains the only Oklahoma brewer to win a gold medal at the Great American Craft Beer Festival. The win came in 2008 as Choc Signature Dubbel took top spot in the Belgian Abby Ale Category. Here's what I wrote about the beer in 2009 (when a locally brewed, 8 percent ABV beer was still kind of a novel idea).

-Eric Marshall, Marshall Brewing: Marshall -- classically trained in brewing in Germany -- holds the distinction of opening Tulsa's first modern production craft brewery, opening his doors on the east side of downtown in 2008. Like Lalli, Marshall has served as a key adviser and coach for many brewers who have opened commercially in the past decade, and has also been a highly influential advocate for craft beer legislation in Oklahoma. I should add as an aside that without Marshall opening his brewery, we wouldn't have Wes Alexander. He's Marshall's sales and marketing director and has played as active a role as anybody in educating the public about the nuances of craft beer over the years. Here's a feature on Marshall published in 2007 (that was the year before I started my blog).

-Chase Healey, American Solera: While Healey may lack a one-brewery resume like Lalli and Marshall -- he's led brewing at COOP, Redbud, Prairie and American Solera over the years -- he can make a serious claim to being Oklahoma's most influential modern brewmaster. As COOP's founding brewmaster, Healey was part of the team that developed all of COOP's current mainline beers, including the iconic F5 IPA. As the founder of Prairie, his Bomb! imperial stout put Oklahoma on the international beer map. After Prairie was acquired by Krebs Brewing, Healey started American Solera, focusing on aged and blended beers. Once again, his beers have drawn raves from national beer critics. Here's a feature I wrote about Healey in 2014.

-Rick Huebert, Huebert Brewing: Some of you young whippersnappers out there may not know who Rick Huebert is, but the guys at Krebs and Marshall certainly do. In fact, his role in where Oklahoma beer now finds itself cannot be understated. From 1972 to 2003, there were no production craft breweries in the state. That changed in August 2003, when Huebert opened Huebert Brewing in southwest Oklahoma City. In March of 2004, Huebert became the first Oklahoma brewery to produce high-point beer in more than 30 years. And even then, that was thanks to legislation that Huebert helped create and pass in order to loosen some of the Prohibition-era restrictions still in place at the time. While the Huebert beer line has faded from the Oklahoma scene, Rick Huebert's likeness certainly deserves a spot on Mount Rushmore. Here's a story on him from 2004.

So what do you think? If you've got a different Mount Rushmore, post it in the comments here or on my Facebook page. I'd love to see what everyone thinks.

Also considered (in no particular order):

-Zach Prichard, Krebs Brewing
-Freddy Lamport, Craft & Barrel
-Gail White, The Brew Shop
-Daniel Mercer, COOP Ale Works
-Stephanie Bice, state senator

So, what else is in the news?

-The official event list for Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week 2017 is coming together nicely, and we're getting ready to release the list soon. If you're a bar or brewery manager who wants an event on the list, send it my way as soon as you can.

-Speaking of beer events, there's one coming up in Enid this weekend. The second annual Land Run Beer Fest is set for Saturday at Central National Bank Center, with a VIP session at 4:30 p.m. and the general event beginning at 5. Tickets are $35 for general admission and $60 for VIP access, with proceeds benefiting local charities. You can get more info here.

-Oak & Ore is hosting a special Crazy Mountain Brewing night today, with tickets for special glassware going out at 5 p.m., and beer dropping at 6. Featured beers are Double India Red Ale, Strawberry Kiwi IPA, Sweet Potato Ale, Imperial Marzen and Rum Barrel Aged Dark Ale. More info here.

-Anthem is hosting a Beer Paws pop-up shop on Thursday at 4 p.m., and then a pretty cool event at 6 p.m. on Saturday as they team up with Waters Edge Winery to introduce Against the Grain, what they are billing as the state's first brewery-winery collaboration brew. You can get more on that here.

-The Patriarch and Twisted Spike are teaming up Saturday for a pint day from 2 to 6 p.m. featuring four TS beers, including the previously brewery-only Black Snake Russian Imperial Stout. That beer will also be Randalled through Hoboken Coffee beans. The day features a special co-branded pint glass, as well.

-Lastly, on a personal note: Happy anniversary to my super wife! It's 14 years for us today -- I couldn't ask for a better beer-tasting partner! (And I'm so glad I was able to bring you along to the magical land of the hop-forward IPA!)

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