In our latest segment of the not-quite-yet-award-winning series Five Questions With…, we talk to Mustang Brewing Co. President Tim Schoelen about the roll-out of the new Mustang Washita Wheat and what the future holds for Mustang Brewing.
1. The Thirsty Beagle: Talk about the early reaction to Washita Wheat. How has the reaction compared to your expectations?
Tim Schoelen: Washita Wheat has gotten the best reaction of all our beers so far. Sales have been outstanding! In just a couple of weeks, it has outsold both the Golden Ale and Amber Lager from last month. The overwhelmingly positive feedback means a lot. This was our attempt to make something truly indicative of an Oklahoma product. The wheat we used was harvested from the Washita River Valley in Oklahoma. The black and orange label was a little something to reflect on my days as a kid in Stillwater. The red and white banner is for our college days at OU and being fans of Sooner sports. Of course, none of that really matters to the flavor; but it means a lot to us as an Oklahoma-based company.
2. TTB: The Wheat makes it three varieties for you; any plans for a fourth? Or more?
TS: We definitely have a few more beers in the queue, including a canned product that will hit just in time for tailgate season. Market research has shown us the majority of Oklahoma beer drinkers want something that rides that balance between quality and quantity. We want to ensure that Mustang’s flavor profiles are consistent with craft beers, but have the smoothness one expects from a session beer. That limits the types of beers we’ll produce. Pilsners, lagers, brown ales, American pale ales; all of those could easily be produced under the Mustang Brewing banner. Our new brewmaster, Gary Shellman, has some great recipes that he can’t wait for me to taste.
3. TTB: You’ve got the building, and office furniture, I believe. Where do we stand now on the brewery?
TS: We have two fermenters in place now. The brewhouse is being constructed in (California) and should ship by mid-June. The walk-in has been ordered. Frankly, buying equipment is the easy part. The biggest milestone we have to overcome is licensing at both the federal and state level. There is a fair amount of sequencing that has to occur with both and we are patiently going through the steps. You can expect to see some brewing and kegging start to occur in our Oklahoma facility around July. However, the brewing partnerships we have out-of-state are great for us. They allow us to brew in large quantities without a major capital outlay. We won’t completely forego contracting out some of our production to meet demand; it just makes good business sense.
4. TTB: I see Mustang beers at liquor stores around OKC. Are you guys available anywhere else in the state? Are there plans to go regional or further?
TS: Our beers are available in over 350 locations all across Oklahoma, most of those being liquor stores. The decision to get into six packs quickly was a great move for us. It’s always neat to get an e-mail from Altus or Guymon stating how much they like the beer. We are currently working with distributors in all the states neighboring Oklahoma. We expect to be in at least two of those by the end of summer.
5. TTB: Mustang Brewing is frequently out on the pint night scene; have you enjoyed that part of the job, hitting the pavement and meeting the beer fans out there?
TS: We love being able to speak to people one-on-one. That’s the primary reason why you see us doing all the pint nights. They’re costly — the price of glasses, shirts, etc., and being away from the family — but they are worth it. It gives us a chance to tell the Mustang story. The beer has to speak for itself (which we think it does quite well), but it’s always nice for people to place faces and names with the company. When we buy someone their first Mustang and get to see the positive reaction after the first drink; there’s no better feeling.
Thanks again, Tim, for taking some time to chat with The Thirsty Beagle. I know it’ll be an exciting time to have the local brewing operation up and running, and I’m sure beer fans across the state can appreciate another local option.