Greetings beer fans from coast to coast. Today we kick of the conference portion of the 2011 Beer Championship Series. You can cast up to 10 votes in each conference. The conference winners will earn automatic entry into the BCS 64-beer bracket, and a chance to compete for the title of Oklahoma’s favorite beer and the coveted Golden Taphandle Trophy. The beers that do not win their conference will have to hope for an at-large entry from the Beer Selection Committee. Without further delay, let’s get this party started!
One year ago to the day, I wrote this column. The title: “What to make of OSU’s offense.” The theme of the column was that we didn’t know what to expect out of the offense. There were so many question marks. Turns out, I pretty much nailed my assessment that OSU’s offense could indeed be very potent: Although Brandon Weeden hadn’t started a game prior to last season, he looked good when he did play. Although the offensive line lacked starting experience, they had game experience and Joe Wickline to get them ready. Although OSU was in its first year under a new offensive coordinator, Dana Holgorsen had a history of prolific offenses in his first year on campus. Check, check and check. The only question I couldn’t answer was who would step up at wide receiver. We know the answer to that question now, but I wasn’t alone at the time.
In the end, I concluded there was a good chance OSU could be quite good on offense last year. Two all-Americans and one first-team all-Big 12 quarterback later, we know things worked out fine. So fine, in fact, that OSU was really just three or four defensive stands away from having a realistic shot at an undefeated season. Alas, OSU’s defense gave up a combined 98 points in the team’s two losses. The common theme: Opposing quarterbacks standing unmolested in the backfield, waiting, waiting, waiting for a receiver to get open. The end results: A combined 791 passing yards allowed in the losses to Nebraska and Oklahoma, and 1,128 yards of offense allowed overall.
In fact, for however great the 2010 season was — and hitting 11 wins for the first time is certainly pretty good — the 2010 season for OSU’s defense was not good. Welcome to OSU football in the Mike Gundy era. Let’s take a look at some of OSU’s defensive statistics in the Gundy era. We’ll look at points per game allowed/yards per game allowed/opponents held under 20 points/team wins.
The numbers show that 2009 has been by far the best season of defense under Gundy’s watch. Now I know you can twist statistics any way you want, but I think this next set of numbers illustrates a good point:
What are those numbers? Those are the total number of sacks and quarterback hurries recorded by OSU’s defense. Notice a trend? OSU’s worst statistical defensive years for yards and points allowed match up perfectly with the team’s worst years for sacks and quarterback hurries. I know it’s no coincidence, but I think it points to what will be the Cowboys No. 1 indicator for overall success in 2011: Defensive line play.
Simply put, stellar defensive line play is the missing ingredient, the one thing that can push Oklahoma State to an elite level.
It’s safe to say that Kevin Williams is not going to walk through that door. But if OSU could at least get a reasonable facsimile to show up on Saturdays (and one Thursday and Friday) this season, this could be a big year. You can feel confident the offense will put up some numbers. With the amount of returning talent and continuity, there’s no reason to think otherwise. (And let’s not even worry about this whole “How will Todd Monken do” theme. As Eddie Sutton once said, Jimmies and Joes are better than Xs and Os.)
On the other side of the ball, you know there are multiple playmakers in the secondary and Shaun Lewis is a star at linebacker. But you also know that Bill Young’s defense is not built on risk-taking and crazy all-out blitz packages. It’s about playing it safe, wearing opponents down and waiting for them to make mistakes and turn the ball over. While that may work against 90 percent of the Big 12, it won’t work against the Sooners. It may not work against Texas A&M or Missouri this year, either, especially on the road. What will work for OSU? Someone on the defensive line stepping into some form of beast mode. A tackle demanding double teams. An end beating his man with regularity.
Can OSU record a truly magical season in 2011? It can, if someone can get to the quarterback.
Today I bring you the latest installment in the Five Questions With… series. Our guest is KRXO radio host and beer aficionado Dave Kelso. Kelso is the main organizer behind Beerfest VII, which is scheduled for Aug. 6 at Remington Park.
1. The Thirsty Beagle: Can you give readers a rundown of what Beerfest is all about? Obviously there will be beer, but what else can visitors expect in terms of entertainment, venue, etc.?
Dave Kelso: Beerfest is all about beer. The original idea was to do a morning show about beer, but I think that made the program director a little nervous. We agreed a beer festival, as opposed to just drinking beer on the air some morning, was a better way to drink beer and NOT get in trouble.
At Beerfest VII there will be beer from around the city, state, country and world. We will feature craft beer from the national level (Full Sail, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, for example), the local level, (Choc, Battered Boar, Mustang, COOP, etc.), local brew pubs (BJ’s, Coach’s, Bricktown, Belle Isle, etc.) and even homebrew clubs (still waiting for a final run down of just who’s coming in this category, but I know the Draughters, the Yeasty Boys, Red Earth Brewers are on). We will also feature Johnsonville Brats, because nothing in the world goes better with beer than a Johnsonville Brat. We will be at Remington Park on the casino side. We will have tables set up inside and outside on the plaza. Tickets are $12 and the proceeds go to PROS 4 VETS.
It’s a chance for craft beer lovers (and self-professed “beer snobs” like me) to gather, talk about, learn about and drink good beer. It’s also a great opportunity to convert one more lost soul to the great American tradition of making good beer and drinking it with good people.
2. TTB: Speaking of the beer, will this be similar to events like Zoo Brew and Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival in terms of the format for beer tasting?
DK: I love Zoo Brew… the name is enough, but they serve great beer and it supports the OKC Zoo, so I’m all in! Didn’t get to make the Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival this year and am very sorry. I hear it was a great time. Our event will follow much the same format. Ticket holders will be able to sample beers from every corner of everywhere. We will also feature periodic giveaways.
3. TTB: How many different types of beer will be available? Are the local breweries/beer companies on board?
DK: Oh hell yes, the local boys are coming. Apart from raising money for veterans’ families, the local brewers are what this event is all about. I think I’ve called everybody. If I’ve not called you to invite you to come pour at Beerfest VII, please accept my apologies and email me at email@example.com. As far as numbers of beers and what types, we have invited Capital, Republic, Red Dirt and Quality and every local brewer and brew pub and at least three home brew clubs. You shouldn’t leave thirsty.
4. TTB: Beerfest will benefit the group Pros 4 Vets; can you talk a little about that organization and what it is all about?
DK: Right now there are 3,400 Oklahoma National Guardsmen and women stationed in Kuwait and Afghanistan. 3,400 families are incomplete and worried because 3,400 of our neighbors are in danger. Pros 4 Vets (pros4vets.org) offers legal assistance, free medical clinics and whatever assistance is needed to vets and their families during and after deployment. Pros 4 Vets can assist veterans with the stress and trauma that can follow a deployment. They also provide assistance to military family aide groups in our area. They’re doing what they can and I think we should help. The sacrifice these men and women make is real and we ought to salute and honor them daily. They ought not to need for anything because we, the people, ought to offer them the best we have. I would encourage you to go to the website and learn about these folks. There are heroes among us.
5. TTB: Beerfest predates the modern Oklahoma craft beer revolution — how has it helped or changed the event to have so many local beer companies on the scene?
DK: Oh, there were craft beers here when we started about eight years ago. I know Coach’s was here, Huberts Lager and Choc, too. Now there are quite a few more. We may have helped pass the good word around, but good is good and I think the revolution was coming anyway. It is great to be able to go to the Spirit Shop and have a hard time picking a beer because there are so many to choose from. How has it helped? Are you kidding?! The only thing better than good craft beer is MORE good craft beer. The more local brewers step up, the more Battered Boars, Mustangs and Redbuds we have, the better it is for Oklahoma beer snobs! At the same time, we’re creating an industry here in Oklahoma that is providing tax revenue and jobs, and very tasty beers! When there are more brewers and brew pubs, we thank God and rent more tables for the event.
There you have it folks. Thanks to Dave for taking some time to answer my questions. If you’re interested in attending Beerfest VII and helping support Pros 4 Vets, you can click on this link for tickets or go to www.pros4vets.org.
Beer news and links
-Tonight is the second show in the Mustang Brewing Presents music series. Show time is 9 p.m. at the 51st Street Speakeasy. Tonight’s act is The Damn Quails. Free cover and Mustang beer specials.
-Marshall Brewing is taking part in a cheese and beer seminar tonight at Sage Culinary Studio Brookside. 7 p.m. Call (918) 364-SAGE for tickets.
Tapwerks general manager Greg Powell confirms the following:
-The bar will put all of its IPAs on special that week. $4 for all of them.
-The bar will have about 25 IPAs to choose from that night.
-Tapwerks will have three firkins of special IPAs, one each from COOP, Marshall, and Choc.
-Choc is bringing a double black IPA.
-COOP is bringing a special extra-dry-hopped F5 IPA.
-The bar will have food specials incorporating IPA on Aug. 4.
-There may be T-shirts available from local and national breweries.
So what is International IPA Day all about? Here’s a description:
International IPA Day is a grassroots movement to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers, and brewers worldwide through social media. On Thursday, Aug. 4, craft beer drinkers across the social sphere and across the globe will raise pints in a collective toast to one of craft beer’s most iconic styles: the India Pale Ale. This celebrated style represents the pinnacle of brewing innovation with its broad spectrum of diverse brands, subcategories, and regional flavor variations – making it the perfect style to galvanize craft beer’s social voice.
IPA Day is an opportunity for breweries, bloggers, businesses and consumers to connect and share their love of craft beer. Getting involved is easy; the only requirements are an appreciation for great beer and the will to spread the word. Anyone can participate by enjoying IPA with friends, making some noise online with the #IPADay hashtag, and showing the world that craft beer is more than a trend!
So there you have it. The Thirsty Beagle is carefully formulating his own plans for IPA Day. I know it will inolve an IPA or three. So I’ve got a good start.
Beer news and links
-Mustang Brewing Co. announced today that its Washita Wheat was awarded a gold medal from the Beverage Tasting Institute in the World Beer Championships. I may just have to have a can of Washita Wheat to celebrate!
-Wild Brew is less than two weeks away. Tickets are still available at www.wildbrew.org.
-Marshall Brewing is having a pint night at 5 p.m. today at Main Street Tavern in Broken Arrow.
-If you’re looking for free tickets to Beerfest VII (more to come on this event on the blog this week), go to the 51st Street Speakeasy tonight from 7 to 8 p.m.
It’s the question that has dominated the beer offseason: Can Marshall Brewing McNellie’s Pub Ale go for a three-peat in The Thirsty Beagle Beer Championship Series? My friends, we’re about to find out. With college football season drawing near — OSU kicks off in less than 50 days — our thoughts will soon turn to that other BCS, the dreaded Bowl Championship Series. Back in 2008, I came up with my answer to the corrupt and nonsensical football BCS: The Beer Championship Series. The concept is simple. I pit 64 different beers on a bracket and my readers vote their favorites through to decide Oklahoma’s favorite beer. The winner claims the coveted Golden Taphandle Trophy. But first things first; how do we decide which 64 beers get into the bracket? The answer is beer conference action, of course. Starting next week, voting will begin in numerous beer conferences. The conference winners will earn automatic entry into the bracket. Those winners earning the most votes will gain top regional seeds. Once the automatic entries are determined, the Beer Selection Committee will convene to choose at-large competitors to fill out the bracket. Then, as we have traditionally for the past three years, voting in the BCS bracket will begin the first week of November. So hide your kids, hide your wife, and get ready for a beer throwdown to determine Oklahoma’s favorite beer!
Beer news and links
-Today is the beginning of Belgian Beer Week at Republic. They are offering a flight of Belgian beers that includes Stella, Maredsous Blond, Chimay White and Ommegang Abbey Ale. Plus, visitors tonight can receive a specialty Chimay glass with purchase, and a visitors Friday can receive a Duval glass with purchase.
-Tonight is pint night at McNellie’s OKC. Starts at 5 p.m. On tap today is Widmer Hefeweisen.
-Also in McNellie’s news, Friday’s firkin features Mustang’s new Crimson and Cream Ale.
-Marshall is having a beer and cheese class at 7 p.m. Thursday at Sage Culinary Studio Brookside. Call (918) 364-SAGE for tickets or more information.
Here’s the latest installment in my new series, Brewer’s Blog, where Oklahoma’s beer experts have a chance to guest blog and sound off about their breweries, beers and the industry in general. Today we hear from Marshall Brewing Co.’s Wes Alexander. Take it away, Wes:
My name is Wes Alexander and I am the director of sales and marketing for Marshall Brewing Co. But for the purpose of this blog, I prefer to set that hat aside and offer some thoughts as a craft beer fan.
Craft breweries are defined by the Brewers Association as small, independent, and local, having a flagship beer that is all malt. (www.craftbeer.com) In short, craft beer is made the old-fashioned way, with high-quality ingredients that produce small batches of flavorful ales and lagers. Further, the Brewers Association offers statistics that show that craft beer is the only growing segment of the American beer market, with gains of 11 percent in 2010. (http://www.brewersassociation.com/pages/business-tools/craft-brewing-statistics/beer-sales)
But we are beer drinkers, so let’s dispense with statistics and definitions. Craft beer is flavorful. Grass-fed beef tastes good, too. I love artisan cheese and bread. The similarities here seem to be starting with high-quality ingredients and skilled people crafting those ingredients. As a consumer, I find myself starting to seek out products produced by artisans. Luckily for all of us that love craft beer, many others are searching for these products as well.
The result is producing a small shift in culture. Sure, as a young person you have to be highly discerning with your dollars, but as we mature many of us are determining that our available dollars should bring us joy. A wise bar owner explained it this way: “Most people spend their days in a basic routine. At the end of the day they seek something unique and pleasurable to mark that day as special.” Technology and information have provided us all with ways to find these special products, and we are enjoying them with increased frequency.
Moreover, the magic in the situation is that we tell our friends, we wax poetic about the virtues of fine cheese, beers and cigars. Sure, the multiple-national marketing machine tells us what products to enjoy, but we prefer to rely on our own palates and the advice of others. If you were in Colorado 10 years ago, you witnessed this revolution. Craft beer is king in Colorado and its offshoot is a culture to support the industry. Evidence is the pride Coloradoans have towards the many breweries they support and the fine beers those breweries produce. This passion and pride are key elements that propel the growth of craft beer and other “craft/artisan” industries.
So is the craft stuff just a trend? Not if we grow a culture to support it. Today there are seven companies that brew/sell craft beer in Oklahoma. Just five years ago there were only the pioneers at Choc Beer Co. Even better, with the growth of local breweries comes the viability of more restaurants and pubs to enjoy hand-crafted libations. Further, more craft brands are attracted to our state based on the success of local brands, resulting in more selection at liquor stores. It has been fun to watch this small shift in culture transpire in a relatively short time.
I leave you with this, if you care about craft beer and other craft/artisan products, help promote these products. The producers rely on word of mouth marketing to carry their brands. Cheers!
Thanks Wes! Well said — getting behind the local craft beer movement is a no-brainer.
Beer news and links
-Marshall is doing a firkin at 6 tonight at McNellie’s Tulsa. The beer is Rum Raisin Bitter. Here’s how they describe it: “This is a one-off of McNellie’s Pub Ale, cask-conditioned with golden raisins sauteed in butter and Sailor Jerry Rum. Only 10.8 gallons of this delicious beer exist, so get there early.”
-A full-service bar recently opened in the Ohio state house. They should open one at the Oklahoma state Capitol with all the 3.2 beer state legislators can handle. (Thanks to Red Earth Brewers for the link)
-McNellie’s OKC is offering $2.50 cans of Mustang Golden Ale all month in honor of Mustang’s second anniversary.
-Here’s a fairly thought-provoking blog post about craft beer, and a rather timely one in light of Wes’ guest blog. The question: Is craft beer getting too snobby?
-Just a reminder that the first ever International IPA Day is set for Aug. 4. Tapwerks says it has plenty of neat things lined up for all us hopheads out there.
I had a chance to meet up with Mustang Brewing Co. president Tim Schoelen the other day to chat about his company, the music series they’re sponsoring and what’s shaping up as a pretty insane month of July for the 2-year-old company. The purpose of our meeting primarily was to talk about the music series, which is called “Mustang Brewing Presents.” The series features one concert a month on a Thursday at the 51st Street Speakeasy. There’s no cover to attend the shows, the bar features Mustang beer specials, and local bands get a chance to earn a little publicity.
They held the first show June 23, featuring the band Defining Times. Next in the series is The Damn Quails, set for 9 p.m. July 21. What’s cool about the series for me is the reason Schoelen decided to start it up in the first place. As a small Oklahoma-based start-up, Schoelen worked a lot of pint nights and tastings to help generate buzz for his company. In doing so, he got to meet a lot of bands out at local bars and restaurants. It wasn’t long before he realized there was a certain synergy between his company and the bands he saw each night. Mustang and the bands were both local guys looking for a chance. And it didn’t hurt that the bands were pulling people into the bars who just might order up a couple Mustang beers. So this year, Schoelen decided to turn it around and use his company’s name to pull people in to see the bands.
I asked Schoelen what was in it for him in the end. Getting his brand in the public eye and selling a few beers was definitely a plus, but he said giving some great local bands a chance to make a bigger name for themselves, to live their dream, was the real deal.
And Schoelen should know about living the dream. After all, Mustang’s second anniversary is coming up this Saturday. If you know the Mustang Brewing story, it’s hard not to describe the past two years as anything but a meteoric rise. I think I’ve shared this story before in some version, but if you haven’t read Schoelen’s explanation of the history of Mustang, you really should. To summarize: Unhappy at his job, Schoelen decided he wanted to live his dream and start a beer company. He researched several business models, decided on a plan, sold his house, cashed his 401K and got the ball rolling. As you can read in his description, a short two years later, Mustang now sells tens of thousands of cases of beer each year, will be brewed soon in four different states and has hired a brewmaster and additional staff. Schoelen even was able to quit his day job recently to focus 100 percent of his effort on the beer business.
So what do you do when you’ve pulled all this off? Well, you celebrate. Saturday (July 16) is Mustang’s second anniversary party. The event is set for 9 p.m. at the Wormy Dog Saloon in Bricktown. The evening will feature music by The Turnpike Troubadours and beer specials. Tickets are $8 and can be had at www.wormydog.com. And there’s a contest to win free tickets at this link.
Mustang will also be at Eskimo Joe’s 35-year anniversary celebration on July 18 in Stillwater. As part of the celebration, Mustang cans will be on sale for $2.25 all that week. You gotta love college-town beer prices.
And Mustang will wrap up its celebrating with a special two-part firkin at the OKC (July 22) and Tulsa (July 28) McNellie’s locations. On tap will be Mustang’s newest beer, Crimson and Cream Ale. You can read more about that beer at this blog post from last week.
The Thirsty Beagle would like to offer congrats to Mustang on its first two years — here’s hoping for many more brews in the years to come.
Beer news and links
-Are you a fan of COOP DNR? Dumb question. Of course you are. You’ll be happy to hear that COOP plans to release DNR in 750 ml bottles in about a month.
-If you subscribe to Beer Advocate magazine, the latest issue has a story on Marshall Brewing.
-Speaking of Marshall, here’s a neat video of their bottling line. These guys are making cargo shorts and rubber boots look good!
I’m rolling out a new feature on The Thirsty Beagle blog today. It’s called Brewers’ Blog. This is where I give Oklahoma’s brewers and beer experts a chance to have their say in the form of a guest post. Our first post comes from Mustang Brewing Co. brewmaster Gary Shellman. The topic: Mustang’s newest seasonal beer, Crimson and Cream Ale. Take it away, Gary:
I was driving through Norman just a couple of days ago and thought, you know, football season is just around the corner, and football season reminds me of tailgating season, which reminds me of BBQ season, and nothing goes better with football, tailgating and BBQ than good craft beer.
Mustang Brewing Company is opening tailgating season this year with a new beer — Crimson and Cream Ale — a seasonal beer that fits our target for great session beers. This is a beer that is light and refreshing, so it doesn’t slow you down when you’re watching the big game.
I’ve done a little variation on the standard cream ale – a beer that is usually a pale straw color, from the pale malt and flaked corn, with an almost champagne-like quality. This beer uses the same amount of flaked maize as a standard cream ale, but I’ve reduced the amount of pale malt a bit and used subtle additions of amber, Munich, and Vienna malts, to give it a light to medium body, a hint of crimson color, and interesting caramel and biscuit notes that round out the beer’s finish and still maintain the malt and hop balance of a cream ale, without making the beer seem too heavy.
At 4.8% ABV and 18 IBUs, Crimson and Cream Ale will refresh your taste buds, whether it’s paired with local pub grub, your best BBQ at a local tailgating party, or satisfying your thirst as you put on your best Heisman pose before, during, or after the big game.
Want an early sample? Crimson and Cream Ale will be on tap from an English-style beer engine at McNellie’s Public House in OKC and Tulsa for their weekly Firkin Friday event on July 22, starting at 6 p.m. The 80 pints in the Firkin don’t last long, so get there early in search of your Friday refreshment. You can expect to see Crimson and Cream Ale at your favorite tap house and bar, and available in kegs for tailgating at the start of the college football season. Let’s get ready for football, Oklahoma.
Thanks, Gary! Now on to the news and links:
-Bricktown Brewery is holding a grand re-opening party at 5 p.m. Friday. The party is a fundraiser for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s Food for Kids backpack program.
-If you like New Belgium’s Fat Tire and prefer to fly on Frontier Airlines, you sir are in luck. Fat Tire cans are now available at 30,000 feet.
-Here’s a reviewon Choc’s Super Saison. Apparently the guy on the right had never had beer of any kind prior to this tasting.
-Marshall Brewing reports that the release of its Arrowhead Pale Ale went very well, so well in fact that people are just plain sold out of the stuff. Expect a re-stocking of the pipeline in the next few days.
-McNellie’s OKC is holding a pint night at 5 p.m. Thursday featuring Sam Adams Brewmaster Select in a special glass.
In hono(u)r of the True North Strong and Free, I’m celebrating today’s important holiday by sharing a collection of some of my favorite Canadian beer commercials.
There’s this one:
And then there’s this:
Getting all patriotic, Canadian-style…
And of course there’s got to be a hockey reference somewhere:
Happy Canada Day everyone!