Booming Breweries 6

Thanks to a new state law, Tulsa breweries have more to offer visitors than ever before

Beer no longer has to be just Budweiser or Coors. A craft beer renaissance has swept the nation, giving drinkers choices such as extra-bitter IPAs, fruit-infused wheat beers and strong imperial stouts, just to name a few.

Some local brewers have found great success with their own creations, which can be found at bars, restaurants and liquor stores throughout the metro area.

Yet for many years, a piece of the beer experience was missing. Brewers could invite the public to their breweries, but they could only give out tiny samples of their beer — selling strong beers in glasses, bottles, cans or growlers was forbidden.

SB 424 changed all that. Under the new law, brewers across Oklahoma can offer the full range of their creations and give the kind of brewery experience drinkers used to have to cross state lines to find.

And local brewers are ready. Here’s a rundown of the three biggest craft breweries Tulsans can now experience in their own town.

Dead Armadillo Craft Brewing

1004 E 4th St.

Taproom hours: Friday 12-7 p.m.

Dead Armadillo’s best known for its amber beer — Tony Peck, owner of the brewery, said that flavor outsells every other flavor by a factor of four to one.

But the brewery’s no one-trick pony. In fact, Dead Armadillo is using its taproom as a way to try out all kinds of new brews.

“We’ve got three test batches that aren’t production beers, we’re just doing them as special releases,” he said. “It gives us a great test bed for trying some new things and doing crazy stuff.”

Though what’s available could vary — and may never be seen again after it’s gone — a recent visit featured a coffee oatmeal stout, a mango-infused English bitter, and a raspberry twist to Dead Armadillo’s amber.

Peck said the passage of SB 424 came as a surprise. In fact, he had already built out a taproom in a former auto mechanic garage and worked with the old laws to try to give customers a taste of what he experienced in breweries in other states.

“We didn’t realize it would be passed so quickly, we got a separate pilot license for a high-point beer bar,” he said. “We then sold our products to the distributor, then bought them back.”

SB 424 now gives Dead Armadillo the freedom to sell beers that may never make it to store shelves.

Marshall Brewing Company

618 S Wheeling Ave.

Taproom hours: Thursday 2-7 p.m., Friday 12-7 p.m., and Saturday 12-4 p.m.

As the oldest of the current crop of Tulsa breweries, Marshall beers are a familiar sight at liquor stores and restaurants throughout the region.

Fans have long dropped into the brewery, even though they were limited to just small samples of their batches.

But now that Marshall can sell full glasses and fill growlers with everything they create, the brewery has braced for even more fans, said owner Eric Marshall.

“We put in an industrial dishwasher to make things easier when we get in more people,” he said.

Visitors on especially busy days may be able to sample Marshall’s brews within the brewing area itself, which sports the giant metal cylinders used either to cook or ferment beer.

Marshall said they’ll always offer their standard flavors, which include Atlas IPA, Sundown Wheat, McNellie’s Pub Ale and Old Pavilion Pilsner. And they’ll feature plenty of seasonal brews that rotate through the year.

But Marshall also plans to make the brewery a one-stop spot for all the special beers they only sell on tap in certain places, such as the Double Tough IPA that was only at Fassler Hall or the Driller Dunkel sold at ONEOK FIeld.

Marshall said he’s happy to be able to sell directly to his fans, but he’s also intrigued by what SB 424 could do for local crafters as a whole.

“You’ll see a lot more people get the ball rolling with their own breweries,” he said. “I know a few people who are already in the process.”

American Solera

1803 S. 49th W. Ave.

Taproom hours: Wednesday, 5-9 p.m., Friday 4-8 p.m., Saturday 1-5 p.m.

August 26 wasn’t just the first day Oklahoma breweries could sell high point beer. It was also opening day for Tulsa’s newest brewery, American Solera.

Though brand-new, opening day brought long lines of fans eager to try American Solera’s oak-aged beer. That’s because Chase Healey, brewmaster and co-owner along with his wife Erica Healey, was the creator of Prairie Artisan Ales.

Prairie’s strong and offbeat flavors became a rapid hit across the country and earned Healey a cult following. Though he had a facility in west Tulsa, Prairie’s beers were brewed by Choc Beer Co. in Krebs.

Healey sold Prairie to Choc this summer, but kept the west Tulsa facility for himself. Now American Solera’s brewing beers in a variety of traditional styles, such as lambic, golden sour and farmhouse ale.