Don’t drink beer this fall.
That’s right, I said it.
Don’t drink beer. Experience it.
Too often we are subjected to the nuances of daily life. And even when we reward ourselves for winning that new account or cleaning out the garage, we just slug down something that is cold, fizzy and wet.
There are times for those beers, but the fall and winter seasons have so much tied to them that a beer can help intensify and catalogue these special moments in our life.
Tulsa is on the fast track to catching up with the rest of the country’s craft/independent beer boom. We now have more options than ever to imbibe a tasty handcrafted pint as consumer demand continues to ask for local options.
Let’s start with the most catchy and news grabbing trend: the taproom. Funny how history is cyclical and what has happened before will happen again. In the pre-prohibition era, taprooms/saloons were the only way to enjoy a housemade beer. There wasn’t a confusing distribution network loaded with middlemen to bring beer to supermarkets and such. We now enjoy the benefits of living in a city like Tulsa and being served a beer meant for you.
However, it used to be you could not even receive a sample of beer from local breweries in Oklahoma, let alone purchase beer to go. The passing of Bill 792 and 424 enacted these breweries are allowed to sell on premise, which increases their capital and brings you the freshest product possible.
As of this writing, you can visit the American Solera, Dead Armadillo and Marshall Brewing taprooms. Brewpubs are a different kind of species, especially here in Oklahoma, as Prairie Brewpub and Elgin Park can only currently offer low point house beers. There are six more microbrewery taprooms in development: Cabin Boys Brewing, Heirloom Rustic Ales, Nothing’s Left Brewing, Renaissance Brewing, Welltown Brewing and Willows Family Ales.
For now, cheers to the local breweries we can enjoy today, and we look forward to raising glasses to those opening in 2018.
American Solera, 1801 S. 49th W. Ave. and 108 E. 18th St.
American Solera offers unique wild ales derived from local cultures and utilizing Oklahoma grown fruit and grains and then aged in oak barrels. They experiment with hazy IPA’s that have grown in popularity since released on the Northeast coast. Chase Healey is a true brewer at heart who tinkers and dials in beers to his specifications, and he’s not afraid to try something new and outside of the box.
There’s a limit out there of what does and doesn’t work with the locals. Beer drinkers are certainly divided into several classes, yet Solera has found a way to bring them all together with farmhouse wild ales to dank IPA’s and fruited sours. Please take a lazy afternoon to sit at the original brewery in west Tulsa and take in the smells and eerie quietness away from the city while imbibing on a cold, crisp Grisetta Stone or Solera Skin Blackberry.
If you find yourself downtown at Burn Co. BBQ (18th and Boston), order your food to-go and sit across the street at the new American Solera South Boston or “SoBo” location. Those pork belly burnt ends go down easily with a couple of SoBo Pils, an unfiltered lager with German hops.
Dead Armadillo Craft Brewing, 1004 E. 4th St.
Back downtown on 4th and Madison, the Dead Armadillo gang have been going full steam with their flagship Amber, which can be found at almost anywhere that sells craft beer. Tailgating, grilling or after raking leaves, you can’t go wrong with their new Dunkel Weizen. A light brown color with sweet malt aromas, this packs a good amount of caramel malts with hints of banana and cloves. The Dunkel is the perfect ale to imbibe at the Hoptoberfest tent at Tulsa’s Oktoberfest, which runs October 18-22 at River West Festival Park.
Also growing to be a favorite of mine is their Coffee IPA from locally sourced coffee. You get the best of both worlds when mixing their IPA with Topeca Coffee. Roasty coffee notes up front followed by sweet malts and finished with floral and tropical Pacific coast hops. Just in time too for the brewery’s newest outdoor patio with yard games, live bands and glistening views of downtown Tulsa.
Marshall Brewing Company, 618 S. Wheeling
Finally at the institute that started the brewing revolution in Tulsa, Marshall Brewing has made it easier to take their Oktoberfest lager almost anywhere. They’ve recently introduced crowlers: a 32-ounce can filled with fresh-from-the-tank beer and sealed on site. These cans encourage days of lounging outside in the cool fall air making memories with your family. A taproom exclusive is their new Side Notch IPA hopped up with Citra, Eukanot, Galaxy, Mandarina and Bavaria hops. It pours a lovely copper to amber color with a billowy white head. Hop aromas dance straight to your nose inviting you to slake your thirst. Finally, their double dry-hopped India-style black ale, El Cucuy is back in full force on October 13th. This marries the best of both dark, roasty malts and floral hops for the perfect beer to sit around the campfire and tell ghost stories.
Elgin Park, 325 E. Mathew B. Brady St.
Tulsa’s downtown scene has prolifically changed during the years with a younger audience more accepting of the craft movement and seeking out a multitude of options. One such venue marries the microbrewery and full service restaurant into a brewpub that offers housemade beers and pizza. Elgin Park is a collaborative effort between the McNellies Group and Marshall Brewing.
Our antiquated laws only allow brewpubs to make beer under 4 percent ABV, but the experience of the Marshall team has brewed some delicious and easy drinking beers that make the alcohol content irrelevant. The odd laws go hand in hand with the oblong pizzas from a kitchen staff that changes recipes daily. Might I suggest the Mr. Oktoberfest, a bready, malty Marzen lager that pairs well with their Wednesday night 50 cent wings. Growler fills will lend a helpful hand for your upcoming tailgate party.
Prairie Brewpub, 223 N Main St.
For a warmer, cozier atmosphere than a sports bar, Prairie Brewpub in the Brady Arts District is the perfect fit. The bar features a vast array of drafts from Prairie as well as guest taps all from a large oak foeder. They release a new fall menu and will open for lunch at 11 a.m. daily beginning November 1. Pair the cooler weather with some Thai Pumpkin Soup with red curry and cilantro. I’d also recommend any of the savory items that feature Burn Co. meats like the Mac and Chase with rib tips. The outdoor patio is ideal for sipping their funky Brett C in the fall weather and catching some tunes from neighboring bands. You could also take some great selfies next to the Hanson mural.
Roosevelt’s, 1551 E. 15th St.
Venturing southeast of downtown, you’ll find a multitude of quality restaurants that offer craft beers, but nowhere near the quantity found at Roosevelt’s on Cherry Street. Modeled after a gastropub concept, Roosevelt’s delivers a vast array of local and regional craft offerings. The most inviting drink option is a flight box, which allows you to sample four different 4-ounce beers. I’m always one to find my new go-to beer or a rare, one-off release from these flights. You can pick and choose and still have enough cash left for dinner. Order the Franky D, a house burger with cheddar and bleu cheese, mushroom duxells and pickled shallots. Most of their dishes are savory, pairing well with a saison or Oktoberfest lager on their expansive outdoor patio.
About the Author
Ever since Brian Welzbacher moved to Tulsa from St. Louis in 2008, Oklahoma’s brewing industry left him wanting more. So he went out to build relationships with the people behind the breweries and the community that supports it to document the culture of craft beer in Oklahoma. He invites beer enthusiasts to follow along and help continue the education and proliferation of the craft beer community through his website, OklahomaCraftBeer.com.
Cabin Boys Brewery, 1717 E. 7th St., (918) 809-4203
Heirloom Rustic Ales, 2113 E. Admiral Blvd.
Nothing's Left Brewing Co., 1501 E. 6th St.
Renaissance Brewing Company, 1147 S. Lewis Ave.
Welltown Brewing, 114 W. Archer St.
The Willows Family Ales, 4th and Peoria
GET CRAFTY AT HOME
For a full list of Oklahoma craft breweries, click here