The brewers at the 405 Brewing Company in central Oklahoma say they make art out of alcohol. A project brewery, the 405 Brewing Company is among the newest craft brew businesses that have opened in Oklahoma, and with specialty beers found nowhere else, they are quickly becoming a favorite.
The new interest and laws in Oklahoma are paving the way for an industry that is coming into its own. “Our business model was different enough that we would have pursued our business anyway, but it helped knowing there is such a consumer demand for craft beer,” said Trae Carson, who opened 405 with Jonathan Stapleton. “Had craft breweries not been sustainable, we may have thought twice about it. But the market was right.”
Within the decade, Oklahoma has brewed up an award-winning craft beer culture, and this movement is forming a flourishing industry that combines great taste, entrepreneurship and community throughout the state. For years, Oklahoma ranked 48th in breweries per capita, but thanks to more forgiving liquor laws and a heady desire for locally created brew, Oklahoma now boasts of more than 20 local breweries and numerous brewpubs.
“Oklahoma has traditionally been grossly under-served in craft brewing,” said Charles Stout, owner of the Bricktown Brewery and president of the Oklahoma Craft Brewers Guild. “But Oklahoma is home to a lot of great breweries now that are producing some exciting products.”
From the pioneer breweries like Choc, Coop Ale Works and Marshall Brewing Co. to newcomers like Twisted Spike Brewing Co., 405 Brewing Co. and Vanessa House Brewing Co., brewers are toasting the success of craft beer in Oklahoma.
“I think others are seeing the success of the established breweries and are encouraged,” he said. “Right now, craft beer is trendy and sustainable. People want to consume products that are created locally, and they are being educated that craft beer is much fresher and much more interesting in taste than what they’ve been used to.”
This past summer, Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law a bill that allows craft breweries in Oklahoma to sell full-strength beer for the first time. In November, Oklahoma voters approved a much debated proposition, which among other things, allows full-strength beer and wine to be sold in convenience stores and grocery stores.
“We are experiencing the best of times right now,” Stout said. “Being able to sell our beer cold will have a huge impact on the industry. This can be a huge game changer.”
Having access to additional markets like convenience stores and grocery stores will also boost sales of locally created beer, he said.
“Will Oklahoma be able to sustain an influx of new breweries?” Stout asked. “I think so. It will be tougher to do a mediocre job, and having new breweries increases competition and forces all of us to stay on top of our game to produce quality, interesting beers. I think having more breweries in the state naturally increases the desire for the product. More breweries means Oklahomans have more options to enjoy craft beer.”
New Breweries On Tap
The success of Oklahoma’s established craft breweries is now inspiring others to create their own frothy businesses.
Vanessa House Brewing of Oklahoma City officially hit the market with their first beer the last week of September. Founded by Andrew Carrales, and six others, the company was inspired by a love of craft beer.
“We started home brewing, but that became very expensive,” said Carrales. “We started to research breweries in Oklahoma and what it would take to open a brewery. We took nearly five years to start the brewery.”
Since Oklahoma isn’t oversaturated with breweries yet, Carrales said the partners saw an opportunity to make an impact on the market. “With the new laws, I think we have a real opportunity to introduce a lot of people to craft beer,” he said. “If we were in someplace like Denver, we would have a tougher road as far as shelf space and marketing. In Oklahoma, we have a chance to really get into the market.”
Twisted Spike Brewing Co. is another brand new brewery, located in the heart of Oklahoma City, which opened in December. Offering a Belgian Blonde, a saison and a milk stout, the brewery fills its own niche in downtown Oklahoma City.
“I’ve always had a huge passion for beer,” said founder Bruce Sanchez. “In the last few years, there has been a growing beer culture here. We saw a big movement to have our liquor laws change, and when we saw the changes coming, we began timing things out so we could open our business. It’s nice that we can now focus on our passion and share great craft beer in Oklahoma.”
Try A New Brew
Twisted Stache Milk Stout by Twisted Spike
Holy Beer Belgian Quadruple by Twisted Spike
Grapefruit Sour Sour Beer by 405 Brewing
FDR Imperial Coffee Stout by 405 Brewing
401KCream Ale by Vanessa House