Choc brought home a silver medal in Category 16: Indigenous Beer with it’s Signature Gratzer. I hold a special place in my heart for Signature Gratzer since I was at the brewery in Krebs on brew day last year and got to see the team put in the work to churn out the beer.
I was able to interview the key players and documented the making of the beer for The Oklahoman.
You can see my article by clicking on this link.
And to see all the winners from GABF, click right here.
In other GABF news, Boulevard Brewing brought home a pair of gold medals — Reverb Imperial Pilsner in Category 13: Other Strong Beer, and ZON in Category 68: Belgian-Style Witbier.
Back in August, I interviewed Boulevard brewer Jeremy Danner for The Thirsty Beagle Podcast, and Reverb was one of the beers we spent the most time discussing. You can check out the interview right here.
There’s a pretty cool beer event coming up next week, and it’s being brought to you by a group you might not suspect would be behind a beer event: the Oklahoma Bioscience Association.
Mark your calendar for Thursday, Oct. 18, for OKBio Brewfest — The Science of Beer. The event is slated to include beer samples from COOP, Choc, Redbud, Bricktown Brewery, Belle Isle Brewery and Huebert Brewing, and it will feature discussions led by the brewers and Bob Miller, a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Oklahoma State University–Oklahoma City, and Tony Stancampiano, a homebrewer and assistant professor of biology at Oklahoma City University.
It promises to be an enlightening look into the science behind creating your favorite pint of beer.
The event will be held rain or shine from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Harn Homestead, 1721 N Lincoln Blvd. Advance tickets are $25 for Oklahoma Bioscience Association members, or $35 for nonmembers. Tickets will also be available at the door for $35 and $45 for members and nonmembers, respectively.
You can find more details by clicking on this link.
This doesn’t involve any local players, but I still thought it was a really interesting look at a brewery and farm teaming up to produce a craft beer. It’s worth a watch:
-Tonight’s TapWerks pint night features Stella Artois. Buy the beer, keep the glass.
-Marshall Brewing’s latest newsletter is out. You can read it right here. Busy beer month for those guys.
-Sam Adams has released a Hop Tour six pack featuring two bottles each of Whitewater IPA, Latitude 48 IPA and Noble Pils. Available now in Oklahoma liquor stores.
-Blue Moon now has full-strength (5.4 percent) 16-oz. cans in Oklahoma liquor stores.
In this installment of Five Questions With, I bring you my interview with Oklahoma’s newest brewer, Prairie Artisan Ales.
You may recognize the name of Prairie’s brewmaster, Colin Healey, because he’s the younger brother of former Redbud and COOP brewmaster Chase Healey. Colin is based out of Tulsa, but does his brewing in the gypsy brewing tradition out of Choc Beer headquarters in Krebs. I’ll let him fill you in on the details:
The Thirsty Beagle: Talk about Prairie Artisan Ales a little bit. How did you get started? How did you settle on that name for your company? What’s your vision for your beers?
Colin Healey: PAA is a brewing project I’m working on with the guys at Choc. The idea is to use both the beer and labels to make true artistic expressions. I’m a classical musician and a painter, so for me it’s important that the beers share my point of view. I’m not looking to do a lot of safe, high-volume stuff. To me, the brewing industry has changed to where a brewer can go outside of the norm and still find an audience.
The name Prairie Artisan Ales says a few things about the brand. Prairie was used to define our region. I’m proud to be an Okie, but wanted the beer to reach beyond just our state. We are working on a distribution deal that would place the beer around the country. Artisan Ales helps define the beers. They are complex, unfiltered, bottle-conditioned ales.
TTB: Obviously your brother is well-known on the Oklahoma beer scene; who got started in brewing first? Did you guys work together at all on your recipes?
CH: Chase got brewing first. I was 17 when he started brewing, so I’ve been watching him for years now. Chase worked with me on the beers. I think people will be excited about what we came up with. I’ve got a big book of Healey family secret recipes and I’m not afraid to use them.
TTB: Talk about your beers a little; am I correct that you have three offerings to start off?
CH: The beers will role out one at a time. For right now Prairie Ale is in the bottles. As soon as the labels come in, we will spin them on, and get the beer out. Prairie Ale is a Farmhouse style ale with big Saaz hop flavor and aroma. It’s bottle-conditioned with Brett, so some nice funky notes will start creeping in as the beer ages. Noir, an imperial oatmeal stout is currently aging in Heaven Hill barrels, plans are to have it out just before Christmas. Prairie Okie, a barrel-aged imperial brown ale, will be coming out sometime in February. I’m working on some lactic fermentation beers. I hope to get some of those out in the spring.
TTB: You call yourself a gypsy brewer; where do you call home and where are you brewing? Talk about the advantages and disadvantages of gypsy brewing.
CH: So I’m brewing the beers down in Krebs. The advantage is having a crew of great brewers to help with all the production. All of the beers are corked and caged. The is an expensive, labor-intensive process. I certainly couldn’t do it on my own.
The bottom line is that I’d like to build a small facility in Tulsa to supplement production in Krebs. I think it will be easier to get this done with product in the market versus trying to launch an unknown brand.
TTB: Talk about in general how it feels to be so close to the release date of your beers. Nervous? Excited?
CH: I’d say excited. I’m very happy with the beer. I think the great thing about craft beer is the variety being produced. I think Prairie adds some great options to the beer landscape.
Thanks to Colin for taking some time to answer my questions. Sounds like another strong addition to the Oklahoma beer scene. You should be able to find his first offering, Prairie Ale, in stores in about two weeks, with kegs possibly to follow in a few months.
-Mustang Brewing this week rolled out its first offering in its Saddlebag Series — a 9% vanilla-infused imperial porter named Brandy’s Imperial Sundae. Starting next month — on Nov. 1 — Mustang is set to roll out bottles of its next beer: Route 66 American Lager. Route 66 is a reformulation of the old Mustang Winter Lager. Taking the old Winter Lager’s place will be a new brew — an English-style winter warmer brewed with smoked malt and black-strap molasses. Stay tuned for that.
-Have you ever longed for a stout infused with bull testicles? Of course you have. Well, your long wait is over. Wynkoop Brewing has created Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. Each barrel worth of the dark stout contains roughly three bull testicles — also called Rocky Mountain oysters in those parts. Only a limited batch was made, and it will be available at the Great American Beer Festival next weekend.
-USA Today shares a list of the 10 best beer cities in the world.
-The Wall Street Journal reports that after three years of decline, beer sales are on the rise again. Of course, craft beer sales have been on a steady uptick for several years now.
-Fassler Hall in Tulsa is hosting an Oktoberfest celebration Friday and Saturday. Tickets will be available at the door.
-In case you didn’t know, McNellie’s pubs in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Norman each hold regular Monday pint nights. Next Monday’s offering for McNellie’s OKC is Warsteiner Okotberfest, while the Tulsa offering is Mustang Harvest Lager and the Norman offering is Newcastle Werewolf.
-Widmer Bros. is releasing four new winter seasonal beers.
-Boulevard Brewing headquarters was listed among the 10 top American brewery tours.
I had the fortune and misfortune recently to find myself spending a weekend in Hot Springs, Ark., and so of course I decided to report on the beer scene in case you also find yourself in Hot Springs sometime soon.
The fortune: They have beer, the bathhouses are cool, and the scenery is nice.
The misfortune: They don’t have very much good beer.
In fact, the trip (which focused solely on the historic downtown part of town, Bathhouse Row) was really fairly frustrating on the beer front, and especially the craft beer front. The bars and restaurants I went to all seemed to have one or both of Sam Adams Seasonal or Blue Moon (although I’m tired of Blue Moon these days) on tap, but after that it was a steady stream of watery, mass-production lagers. At one restaurant bar, I had this conversation with the bartender:
Me: So, does Arkansas have a pretty good local craft beer scene?
Me: (Waiting to see if the bartender will elaborate)…
Me: OK, thanks.
At one point, I had as many Land Shark Lagers (read: one) as I could tolerate, and even contemplated switching to mixed drinks. I mean, when Land Shark Lager is the unquestioned best beer option, things are not going well. There was a glimmer of hope at one point when we spotted a bar that had a Fat Tire neon in the window, but when the smell of 40-year-old stale ashtray came wafting out the front door, I couldn’t bring myself to go inside. (Sorry, I’m too old to deal with smoky dive bars anymore. Dive bars? Yes. Smoky dive bars? No.)
I was really about to lose hope for Hot Springs, but there were a couple saving graces. One was a German restaurant called the Brau Haus.
I stopped in for a beer and found a very nice selection of German, Belgian and European beers. At the time, the Oktoberfests were coming on tap, so that was definitely a perk. In a pinch, that could definitely fulfill your beer needs — especially if you like German food.
But the really interesting development was found right in the heart of Bathhouse Row:
This was in August, and the Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery looked like it still had much renovation work required before it could open. The concept looks pretty cool — brew beer using the famous Hot Springs thermal water, which is said to check in at 143-degrees Fahrenheit. The homebrewer in me says that could save quite a bit of money on electricity/gas, since heating water for brewing would be aided by the water being only a few degrees shy of the desired mash temperature.
That being said, some Internet research turned up this article, which shows that they not only intend to make beer, but also whiskey and rum. If you peruse the posts on their Facebook page, it looks like some renovations are happening, making root beer will also be a big part of their operation, and that their tasting room may be open by the spring of next year. So exactly what will the beer be like?
That’s hard to say. It looks like it will be sold under the name Vapor Valley Beer. It’s not clear what styles they’ll brew or if it will only be available at the bathhouse. Either way, score this is as a big plus for an otherwise uninspiring craft beer destination.