The Thirsty Beagle: Cooperation makes it happen: OKC brewing co-op is reborn

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cooperation makes it happen: OKC brewing co-op is reborn

The OK City Brewing Cooperative is back.

That news was revealed today as former Black Mesa Brewing co-founder Brad Stumph announced he has acquired the brewing license most recently controlled by Mustang Brewing.

The move -- one that has been rumored in beer circles for weeks -- means brewing operations are now resuming at the former Mustang brewery on N Meridian, where a foursome of brewers are expected to be working.

That group is comprised of Elk Valley, Vanessa House, Angry Scotsman and Kolibri Ale Works.

This is now the third iteration of the OK City Brewing Cooperative.

Stumph said when Mustang closed shop in July, it created a big opportunity.

“The barriers of entry into the brewing industry are substantial, largely because of the high cost
of brewing equipment,” he said. “By providing a fully outfitted place to hone their craft, I hope
to give aspiring brewers an outlet and a less risky option for learning the business of running a
brewery. I’d like craft beer enthusiasts to see this facility as an ongoing preview of the Oklahoma
brewing industry’s future.”

A grand opening for the new co-op is set for noon to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3. Leading up to that, each of the four member brewers will host special releases set for each Saturday in October. That schedule is as follows: Elk Valley (Oct. 7); Angry Scotsman (Oct. 14); Vanessa House (Oct. 21); and Kolibri (Oct. 28).

This latest development marks another turn in a somewhat twisting history of the OK City Brewing license.

Back in August of 2012, I wrote a story about the advent of the co-op. The concept was launched west of downtown in a building on Sheridan Avenue.

The original members of the co-op were Redbud Brewing (led by brewmaster Chase Healey, who had earlier left COOP Ale Works); Anthem Brewing (with brewmaster and founder Matt Anthony, who later exited the company over philosophical differences); and Black Mesa.

That arrangement was short-lived, however.

Within a month of my writing that article, Healey left Redbud to take a brewing job in Texas (he of course went on to found Prairie and eventually American Solera). The cooperative's owners said they would hire a new brewmaster, and the Redbud brand would continue.

As the calendar flipped to November 2012, Redbud still had no brewmaster.

That's when Mustang Brewing stepped in to the equation, striking a deal to purchase the Redbud brand, the cooperative building and the OK City brewing license. (Blogger's note: In a blog post concerning Mustang's closure in July, I inaccurately described Mustang as having an earlier role with the co-op.)

From there, Mustang, Anthem and Black Mesa continued brewing at the co-op. That lasted until May 2013. That's when the second of two horrific spring storms that month ravaged the building, tearing off a portion of the roof and leaving debris strewn over the brewhouse.

That ended the Sheridan building's run as a brewing cooperative. Anthem eventually opened its own building, and Black Mesa built a relationship with O'Fallon Brewing in Missouri to contract brew. Mustang moved to its long-time home on N Meridian Avenue. While Mustang maintained control of the Redbud brand -- and promised on-and-off for years that the brand would be revived -- it never was.

With Mustang going out of business in July, it appeared the OK City Brewing license -- and the idea of a cooperative -- would fade into oblivion.

But back in to the picture came Stumph, who within the past year separated from Black Mesa over philosophical differences. He is now the third owner of the OK City brand.

"This is going to be fun," Stumph said. "(It's a) good slate of brewers to kick this thing off right!"

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