The list of Oklahoma brewers shipping beer to local bars will grow by one in the coming days, as the state’s newest brewing company, Black Mesa Brewing, moves its beers to market. The Thirsty Beagle interviewed Black Mesa’s Brad Stumph recently, check it out:
The Thirsty Beagle: Let’s start off with a little bit of a role call. Who makes up Black Mesa and what are your titles?
Brad Stumph: Black Mesa is a three-man operation at this time. Titles are a bit amorphous while we’re in the start-up phase. We’re really just three guys trying to take a step beyond being craft beer enthusiasts and make our own contribution to the Oklahoma community. We all brew, promote, and pick up slack where needed. Chris Sanders gets to claim the title of head brewer. If you’re dealing with our social media, you’re likely to talk with Chris Taveau. But Taveau is also Brewer No. 2, who you are likely to hear more from with our more creative seasonal releases. I am Brewer No. 3 and so usually get relegated to the business end of things.
TTB: So you guys are involved with OKCity Brewing, correct? How does that work? Are you leasing fermenter space?
Brad: Yes, we brew at OKCity Brewing along with Redbud and Anthem. We basically rent the use of all brewing equipment. It’s a great arrangement. OKCity Brewing acts as a brewery incubator, and we have a way to contribute to all that is happening in the Oklahoma craft beer scene much sooner than if we had had to build our own brewery first.
TTB: Let’s step back a minute and talk about the creation of Black Mesa. Was it one person’s brainchild? Why did you guys decide to do this?
Brad: I’d say it was more of a realization of possibilities than any one person’s brainchild. Chris’ beer has always gone over well at tastings and backyard gatherings. I always offer to pour because I get almost as much enjoyment out of talking beer with people as I do the beer itself, even if I am a tad bit jealous of Chris’ skills.
So we’ve known that we have two of the three ingredients we need to start-up brewery: 1) Delicious beers, 2) at least one person willing to tell everyone how delicious the beers are. That left just one barrier: start-up capital. Then we stumbled on Kickstarter.com. It’s a micro-investing site for those interested in funding new creative endeavors and a handful of breweries around the country have been funded. The guys over at Fubelly have agreed to help us create a video profile. They do great work for the OKC food and beverage scene.
So, we need just a little help getting a foothold (but we’ve got a fair bit of skin in the game at this point) and hope the craft beer drinkers among us will join the cause. If Portland can support 40 breweries, there’s got to be room for at least one more in Oklahoma, right? Demand it people! Demand it!
We’re just excited to be part of all that going on in the OK craft beer scene and OKC in general. If we can be one more reason that people are proud of their city or state, we say, “Cheers to that!”
TTB: Let’s talk about the beer. What kind of/how many styles will you make?
Brad: Our first two releases will be a Blonde and a Pale Ale which will be out shortly. We will add a Porter to our line-up in the fall and also release our first seasonal in the fall.
TTB: Can you give an idea of what the Blonde and Pale Ale will be like?
Brad: A note about our beer philosophy that will help explain what we are shooting for: The perfect beer in our eyes is one that will have the complexity to be appreciated by the choir but is drinkable enough to grow the congregation. We think that balanced beers are the way to achieve that goal. Chris is an amazing brewer that has a knack for creating beers with layers of malt complexity that are perfectly balanced with the hop bitterness so that they finish clean and crisp.
Our Blonde is best described as an American Blonde Ale. It has this very subdued fruitiness (almost floral) that is first detected in the aroma and also provide the initial flavor profiles which give way to distinctively German malts that are the heart of the beer. It finishes crisp with a slight spice note. It’s how Black Mesa does summer.
Our Pale Ale is a pale ale in more the Euro sense of the word than the current hop-forward American state of things. Hop heads may not get what they’re expecting if Sierra Nevada is their gold standard; but if a well-balanced pale ale like Mirror Pond (I know, not Euro) is what you crave, you’re going to enjoy our pale. Biscuity and caramel notes dominate, but the hint of grapefruit imparted by the hops make this pale ale thirst-quenching. Craft beer drinkers will appreciate a return to a sessionable beer in this style. Those who haven’t yet ventured beyond wheats and blondes will get an introduction to the delicious world of hops and still be able to taste their next pint.
TTB: Are all three of you regular working guys? Do any or all hope to move to the beer biz full time at some point?
Brad: Chris Sanders, our head brewer, is a retired firefighter. He also flips properties when he sees a good opportunity. Chris Taveau, an assistant brewer, works in furniture sales; and I am in the environmental consulting business. We all are looking forward to the day when enough people are enjoying our brews that we have no choice but to go full time.
TTB: When can beer drinkers expect to see Black Mesa brews?
Brad: Our Blonde will be on taps around OKC and Tulsa around August 4th or 5th. Our Pale Ale will follow by about two weeks.
TTB: Will it be keg-only at first? Are there plans to bottle/can eventually?
Brad: Yes, keg-only at first. We will bottle eventually, but the bottling line at OKCity Brewing is still under construction. Once it’s operational, we plan to release our seasonals in the bomber bottles and the year-round brews in the standard 12oz. bottles.
TTB: How long do you plan to hang at OKCity Brewing, and further on down the road, do you hope to open your own brewing facility?
Brad: Of course we would like to have our own facility eventually; but right now we have the perfect situation for a fledgling brewery, so we’re not trying to put a timeline on our tenure at OKCity Brewing. We let the folks at OKCity Brewing worry about the mechanics of maintaining a brewery so that our brew staff of three can put all of our focus into developing and delivering delicious brews. I’m willing to say there has never been a better time to be a craft beer drinker in OKC. How exciting is it that the craft beer scene is now at a level where you have a business that has sprung up to basically serve as micro-brewery incubator?
TTB: Is there anything you’d like to tell me about Black Mesa that I haven’t asked?
Brad: A little background on the logo is a good way to wrap things up. Black Mesa is the highest point in Oklahoma. By sharing our brewery name with the state’s highest point, we are hoping to encourage people to explore OK beer and OK’s out-of-the-way places. The color scheme of the logo is also intentionally Okie-centric: blue sky, golden wheat, red earth. Tolkien fans may recognize that, “All who wander are not lost” is a paraphrase of a line in a Tolkien poem, “…Not all those who wander are lost…”. It’s not that Chris or I are huge Tolkien fans, but we think the phrase captures the spirit of exploration. Chris is a career firefighter. I am a wildlife biologist. Black Mesa would have never happened if we didn’t allow ourselves a little room to wander.
TapWerks Ale House recently released the complete list of cask/firkin offerings for this Thursday’s IPA Day celebration. Listed below are what the local/regional beer guys are bringing. TapWerks also has an extensive list of draft and bottled IPA offerings.
-Anthem: Belgian-inspired IPA made with Belgian candi sugar. 5% ABV and 72 IBU.
-Choc: Curry Spiced IPA. Dry Hopped with Columbus and Citra, then curry spices added. 6.75% ABV and 65 IBU.
-COOP: Orange Blossom Imperial IPA. Hopped mostly with Amarillo, with an addition of orange blossom honey. 9.5% ABV.
-COOP: Double dry-hopped F5. Additional dry hop on whole leaf Citra, Centennial, and Columbus. 7.0% ABV.
-Marshall: English IPA dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin.
-Marshall: Imperial IPA hopped every 10 minutes using a hopback with whole leaf Cascade, Amarillo, and Simcoe. Dry-hopped with Cascade.
-Tallgrass: Apricot IPA dry-hopped with Amarillo.
-Bricktown Brewery: Cask version of their Aught 7 IPA. Hopped with Simcoe, Columbus and Centennial. Dry-hopped with the same.
If you’ve got 15 minutes with nothing better to to, and let’s not kid, what else do you have going on, sit back and check out Episode 3 of The Thirsty Beagle Podcast. My guests in studio this week were Redbud Brewing brewmaster Chase Healey, and Sibyl Kang, owner of Oklahoma City’s new brewing cooperative, OKCity Brewing. We talked about what OKCity Brewing is all about, what’s going on with Redbud and about the upcoming Wild Brew and IPA Day festivities.
You can get tickets at www.wildbrew.org.
To see my recent interview with Wild Brew’s co-chairman, click right here.
And for links to the beer and restaurant lists, plus other information, click on this link.
Tonight’s beer will be a Mustang Washita Wheat infused with blueberries. Sounds like an intriguing mix.
If you want to stop by the check it out, the firkin will be tapped at 6 p.m.
Today’s TapWerks Ale House Thursday night pint night will feature a selection of beers from Anderson Valley Brewing Co., of northern California.
TapWerks has Anderson Valley’s Amber and IPA on tap, as well as ESB and Stout in bottles. An Anderson Valley glass is available with the purchase of any of the aforementioned beers.
I’ve got a second update for the cask/firkin lineup for TapWerks’ IPA Day celebration, which is set for Aug. 2. Today’s update comes to us from Anthem Brewing and Choc Beer.
Anthem will bring a Belgian-inspired IPA, while Choc reports it is still tinkering with some recipes, but most likely will bring a firkin of curry-spiced Oklahoma Pale Ale. OMG. (OPA is an offspring of Choc’s Spring IPA, so I say it counts for IPA Day purposes.)
So our cask/firkin list now looks like this:
-Curry-spiced OPA, Choc Beer
-Apricot IPA with Amarillo hop addition, Tallgrass Brewing
Saw a link to this Web article today courtesy of Red Earth Brewers.
In a nutshell, Choc is being sued, accused of trademark infringement by a Minnesota soda company — New Ulm Brewing and Beverage Company — that uses the name 1919 for its root beer. Choc’s 1919, as you know, is the name of its flagship beer.
New Ulm is asking the court to block Choc from using the name 1919 and is seeking unspecified damages for trademark infringement, among other claims.
You can see a copy of the lawsuit right here.
Choc President Zach Prichard said the Krebs beer team is aware of the lawsuit and is reviewing the matter.
“We hope to reach an amicable agreement with New Ulm,” Prichard said.
You may be wondering why a Minnesota company would have to worry about what Choc was doing. There’s the catch: For a time, Choc sold its beer in Minnesota. Prichard said Choc is now out of the Minnesota market and has been for about two years.
On a separate note, this isn’t the first example of an Oklahoma beer maker facing an issue over a beer name. Mustang Brewing this year changed the name of its Mustang Session ’33 to simply Mustang ’33 after another company said the name “Session” was reserved.
Just in case you’ve been trapped in your beer cellar and haven’t been keeping current on beer news, here’s a reminder that the second annual IPA Day is now only a little more than a week away. The celebration is set for the night of Aug. 2 at TapWerks.
The event will feature a great selection of special cask beers, plus several IPA-infused menu options.
One of the casks will be from Tallgrass Brewing of Manhattan, Kan. Tallgrass will ship down an IPA infused with apricots and a generous helping of Amarillo hops. Sounds like a great offering for a hot summer’s night!
Stay with the blog for more updates on cask offerings and menu updates.
In today’s segment of 5 Questions With… we get ready for this Saturday’s Wild Brew festival with a conversation with Wild Brew co-chairman Kristopher Koepsel. Just a reminder, tickets are available at www.wildbrew.org and can be had until Friday.
1. The Thirsty Beagle: For those readers who may not be familiar with Wild Brew, give a general explanation of what the event is all about.
Kristopher Koepsel: Wild Brew is one of your best opportunities to donate to a great organization, get to taste the largest selection of craft beers under one roof, and to eat food from some of Tulsa’s best restaurants.
2. TTB: What can people expect in terms of the number of beers available, and are there any special or unique beers people should know about?
KK: This is by far the largest selection of craft beers assembled at any event in Oklahoma. In addition to the Wild Brew beer brewed especially for the event by Choc and F.O.A.M., some of the members of F.O.A.M. (Fellowship of Oklahoma Ale Makers) will have some of their craft beers for sampling that are not available in stores.
3. TTB: Let’s talk about the Rye Saison Wild Brew collaboration beer; how does it help to have Choc and FOAM create a beer especially for the event?
KK: This generates a tremendous amount of publicity for the event. The publicity began with the beer launch in early June, which gets everyone thinking about the Wild Brew event. Then once the Wild Brew beer arrives in the local stores, there are signs provided to the stores to help publicize the event. Having the beer made by locals like Choc and F.O.A.M. is great. Both Choc and F.O.A.M. love beer, so each year they produce a great product.
4. TTB: What kind of work does the Sutton Center do? How will proceeds from Wild Brew help?
KK: The Sutton Center conducts avian and conservation oriented field research, which has included the development of reintroduction techniques and captive breeding of endangered species, including the Bald Eagle. In addition, Sutton has produced surveys of bird populations across the world. Another key part of Sutton’s mission is education, and proceeds from Wild Brew will be used to enable Sutton to continue presenting avian- and conservation-oriented education programs throughout the state as well as continuing its field research projects.
5. TTB: What is the deadline to get tickets, and what is the best way for people to go about doing that?
KK: Deadline for getting tickets is 5 p.m. on Friday July 27, 2012. Unfortunately, we are prohibited from selling tickets at the door. Visit the website for more information and to buy tickets.
Thanks Kristopher! If you’re looking for more information about Wild Brew, you can find the beer and restaurant lists on the website.