By D'Wain Carthen
Let's talk about beer! OK now that I have your attention let's get down to business. There's a new beer spot in town..and its name is McNellies South City. Yes. Our beloved McNellies has opened a new location in South Tulsa. For me this is great news. I literally live less that 5 miles from this place as opposed to having to drive 20 minutes downtown.
Convenience. Is. King. But is it everything?
This is the question of which we seek to answer.
McNellie's South City is located on 71st. & Yale in Tulsa right by the Charleston's. If you have been to the OG McNellies in downtown Tulsa you are used to being greeted by a squeeky door before walking in to a room full of wood....and beer. South City delivers the wood and beer(this should he their tag line), but what they are missing is the worn ruggedness that we have all come to love.
Everything in South City is new as it should be, but I instantly miss the old worn feel of miss matched chairs and Irish memorabilia. We had a group of 8 and the wait was only 30 minutes, so the capacity is much larger at this location, if you exclude the upstairs area downtown. As we waited I surveyed the taps. Instantly, I loved the bar setup. Double-sided wrap around bar and I spot Anthem Golden One and Rough Tail along with the usual suspects: Marshall and Prairie on tap. Support local! There is also a nice beautiful cooler lining the back wall behind
the bar. Loving the aesthetics.
In place of the upstairs area there is a patio area outside. This will be great when the whether is nice. I could easily see some outside games coming about out there, like a big Jenga board...ping pong..etc. There is certainly a lot more room for the place to evolve. As does McNellie's downtown, the South location reflects the area of town that it is in. I encourage my fellow craft beer drinkers to check out our new beer location and try some local brews. I was disappointed to see many rounds of Coors Light tallboys being ordered by a table nearby us...but I guess you go with what you know.
While South City provides more space and convenience, for me I still feel like McNellies downtown is my place to be. However, the idea is to make South City in to a great place to go have a beer. The time is nigh! They just opened within the last month. We need to build its character. Make it in to YOUR beer place. Sit at the bar, imbibe with those around, and have fun.
In light of these hot summer months and to celebrate National Ice Cream Month, I decided to "brew" something different with some friends this past week.
While perusing the St. Louis FEAST magazine (a great monthly periodical highlighting St. Louis' food culture) I found an intriguing article about food collaborations. Now we all know beer and dairy go well together and both share similar creative processes like the aging of cheese. I've had my fair share of Irish Stout cheddar and other fanciful beer cheese's but never beer ice cream.
The very thought made me think root beer float. Maybe a heavy Russian imperial stout or porter served with some vanilla bean ice cream. Not so in this case.
I Scream Cakes Pear Saison ice cream inspired this endeavor to create something I've never tried before. I contacted them via Facebook and was given a rough cut of their recipe for a small batch. (Their normal recipe makes 5 gallons, not sure where I would put all of that.) They collaborated with 4 Hands Brewing Co. by utilizing their Pyrus, a fall saison brewed with pear juice.
Light bulbs went off, I had to try this. I contacted some friends who have an ice cream maker and similar passion for beer and off we went.
Basically all you need for this is a good vanilla ice cream recipe...minus the vanilla. Makes sense when you're looking to get the flavor from the beer and fruit. I decided to go with Prairie Standard as our beer and use dried apricots instead of pears. We boiled a few bottles of the beer, then added the dry apricots to simmer for 15 - 20 minutes. We then pureed the mixture until smooth. On the side we combined 2 oz of almond paste and 1/4 cup of honey. Once the ice cream mixture was prepared we drizzled the almond/honey paste throughout, then mixed the now chilled apricot beer mixture into the ice cream. Let that freeze overnight and enjoy.
Sounds perfect, right? Unfortunately our ice cream mixture was a bit on the soupy side and after it froze it did not have the ice cream texture we normally expect. It still worked but seems to have more ice and not enough cream. Instead of half n half we may use milk next time.
The overall flavor was good in my opinion. You got plenty of beer flavor and the apricots complemented it well with a slight tart yet sweet flavor. This is definitely something to experiment with. I'd really like to combine a chocolate stout with some fresh raspberry ice cream...but I'd better finish this batch first.
Where's my spoon?
On a recent trip to Boulder, CO my wife and I met up with some good friends of ours to FATE Brewing Company for some eats and general imbibing. Great beers and dining. During conversation with one of the servers we were asked if we were from the area. Jessica (my beautiful wife) and I said we were from Oklahoma. To which the server responded,
"Isn't that a beer desert?!"
No fault of his own…I suppose. He explained he has a friend who lives in Bartlesville, and that is where he got the description from. He didn't ask about the beer scene, instead he had a predetermined opinion from a local that is not in touch with the local beer culture.
I proudly informed my good man that we had great breweries such as Prairie Artisan Ales that may be invading his area soon. How great would it be to have people from other states be introduced to Oklahoma brew with Prairie Bomb? Oh, you thought this was a beer desert? That beer is a 100 on Ratebeer and a 99 on Beeradvocate. So yeah, it's kind of a big deal.
There are two things we must have in order to change our image. First, we need to educate ourselves as beer citizens. Study beer. In this case, studying involves drinking (Yay), reading (with a beer), and discussing (not slurring).
Drinking is a pretty obvious method, but be sure you try new beers. Instead of the same big beer six pack, venture out with a mix-a-six. Try something you have had before and maybe did not particularly like.
Your taste buds change over time. Remember broccoli, you hated it as a kid, now, well more than likely that has changed. You may have not liked the Marshall Atlas IPA when you first tried it, but upon further review it's delicious. There are going to be beers you like and others you despise, but it is all in getting out of your comfort zone. We have not been drinking beer as long as we have been eating food, so we have a lot
to learn…and drink.
Reading is fundamental! Read books like Ultimate Beer by Michael Jackson or Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher. Learn about the history of beer, the various styles, the region's they come from, and each of their characteristics. Unearthing the mysteries of beer will give you a better appreciation and enhance your enjoyment ten fold. As a bonus, you can impress your friends with this beer knowledge because even stuff in the first couple of chapters is not common knowledge. It is also a good excuse to read and drink beer (as if you needed an excuse). Don’t be satisfied with drinking a Stella because it sounds fancy. If you read up you will know Stella is actually the Belgian PBR. It is sold for just $1.10 per pint in Belgium. They just have a great marketing campaign to make it look prestigious. Knowledge bomb!
Reading and drinking leads to the best part; talking about beer. This is why I started writing about beer. Tell your buddies about great beers you have enjoyed, fun times about hunting for one offs, home brewing, beer festivals and so much more.
The whole idea is about sharing. They still learn. You will learn. Go to local beer festivals. The Harvest Festival hosted by Mcnellies (http://mcnellies.com) is a great festival. They also host Beer Universities about once per quarter. Follow Mcnellie’s on Facebook for info. If you have read my first post you’ll know that Biergarten hosts beer tastings. Tap Werks also hosts the Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival. Wild Brew is a festival that celebrates Oklahoma craft beer and raises money for the Sutton Avian Research Center.
We have a good beer scene budding in Oklahoma, but you have to go out see people, try beer, and talk about it for it to grow.
Don’t think I forgot about the second part! We have to have good beer to enjoy! However, we cannot settle for the same ole same ole. Brewers like Chase Healey are doing some amazing things with beer right here in our great state. Personally, I like to see breweries get wicked with their brews. Don’t come out to the beer festival with the same lineup time after time. Bring out the firkins! Experiment. This is where the beer imbiber and brewer really come together. There are going to be beers that the people love and some that they don’t, but if you bring out a small batch of something that is great, you’re a hero at the festival. If people don’t like it, hey you only did a small batch.
That is why the Prairie Artisan tent is always busy at the festivals. That is why I love the Saddlebag series by Mustang Brewing. I recently had the Dragon’s Breath, which is a chili pepper infused IPA. Amazing. Absolutely amazing.
Let's get out and Cultivate the Craft Oklahoma. We've armed you with knowledge, now go learn and spread the good word of Oklahoma craft beer.
Ah, summer. Here again to oppress us with it's heat waves and droughts. Luckily we have a multitude of beers and places to enjoy beer to beat the heat. Until Oklahoma breweries can serve up free samples here are some neighboring breweries you can visit for a mini vacation.
Not long ago I made a trek with some friends up to Missouri along I-44 to visit a few breweries in a day. We started at Public House Brewing Company in Rolla. Driving past the city so many times I never thought it would actually have a brew pub in it'd downtown area. This great brew pub has a nice lounge area and large seating capacity. While they don't serve much food you can bring your own in. We sampled 6 beers they currently had on tap from Rod's Cream Ale to Revelations Stout. Their Bird and Baby Mild was my favorite and rightly so as it won the 2011 GABF bronze medal for English Mild.
After we picked up some imprinted discus and bumper stickers from Public House we made our way south to Bucyrus, MO. A small community an hour south of Rolla, pretty much the middle of nowhere, there's a big red barn located near the Piney River. Just so happens that is the name of the brewery as well. Piney was developed by Brian and Jolene Durham who took their love of craft beer and transformed their barn into a brewery/canning facility/bar and lounge. We had a rather informal tour from one of the brewers which are always the best where we viewed their 7-barrel brew house and canning machine. Their beers reflect the Ozark community as easy drinking beers that you can take in a can on float trips. Their Firefly Ale now called Float Trip Ale is a 4.5% Blonde Ale is perfect for such an occasion. They have live music on Saturdays and plenty of merch and beer to take back with you.
We had to tear ourselves away from the beautiful countryside to venture into the big city of Springfield, MO and Mother's Brewing Company. Marked by the large white silo we were a little close to closing time but able to get about 20 samples in a dish washing rack.We took it out to their lawn area where people were playing bocce ball and gearing up for a night out. Mother's offers some very sought after, flavorful year round beers as well as seasonal releases. They recently released a farmhouse ale called Spring Batch for their spring seasonal and MILF, a wonderful Imperial Stout. What put me over the top was their Black Cherry Sherry Thang which prompted me to buy a stainless steel growler of it. Check them out soon as they are a three hour drive from Tulsa and will be celebrating Springfield Craft Beer Week starting July 14th.
You'd think we were done by then but ohhhh no. For dinner we made our way to Springfield Brewing Company. They offer great American cuisine and several year round beers as well as seasonals and special one-offs. A great end to a great day of beer in our neighbor state of Missouri. And that was just the southeast corner! It's a great way to take a mini-vacation and stock up on great local craft beer.
By D'Wain Carthen
On a recent visit to one of the Hideaway Pizza locations here in Tulsa I had an epiphany. Oklahoma restaurants that serve beer should be working to put our local beers on a pedestal. Think about it. As people who love beer, any time we travel out of state, our sights are set on trying local brews. In fact, many of those trips are probably made with the purpose of finding new beers indigenous to where we are traveling. We could also be eager to revisiting an old hometown location and taking a drink down memory lane with a nice pint of an old favorite. Oklahoma has beer lovers. We have great beers like Coop DNR, Marshall Pub Ale and Anthem Golden One that we can share with those who travel to our red dirt nation.
Don’t get me wrong. There are places where you can get great local beers in Oklahoma. Specifically in Tulsa, it goes without saying that you can go to McNellie’s (Downtown), R Bar (Brookside), or Main Street Tavern (Broken Arrow) and get an excellent selection of local drafts and equally outstanding food to enjoy with them. Unfortunately, the Hideaway location I patronized only had 2 of 7 Oklahoma draughts available and the same amount could be ordered in a bottle.
I will be the first to tell you that I know nothing about the back-office operations of running a restaurant. Like millions of Americans, I watch Food Network (love Chopped) and I thoroughly enjoy finding local eateries via Yelp, but by no means can I run a restaurant. However, those that do know how to run a restaurant should stay aware of the beers available in the area.
I remember the first time I visited the beautiful city of Boulder, CO. My best friend, Jeremy, lives there and I headed out there with a couple of buddies to visit him in the hospital after he had been in an accident. After busting Jeremy’s chops for a while we decided to give him some rest and explore the city. We stumbled upon Pearl St. If you have been there, you know this area is awesome. There are tons of shops and places to eat up and down the street. After finding some food, I was on the hunt for coffee. However, as we walked by one particular store I heard a band playing inside and a guy sitting outside on a bar stool says to us, “You guys like t-shirts?” I’m thinking, “Yeah…what dude doesn't?” He then follows up with “ We've got t-shirts, live music, and free beer.” WHOA! You had my curiosity, but now you have my attention! There was no catch. My buddies and I ventured in, enjoyed some Boulder Beer with our live music and each bought a t-shirt. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of the shop, but they have an awesome approach to business. Could this happen at Boomtown Tees? Let’s make it happen!
Oklahoma should be doing things like this for beer…for our state! 405,918…where ya at?! If we are going build our craft beer culture we need our beers readily available to thirsty patrons eating in local stablishments. Convenience is king and everyone should know more about the beer around them. When I first moved to Tulsa, I knew nothing about beer. In fact, I didn't like beer at the time. All I knew were the standard commercial beers that we all see ads for during sporting events. A great friend of mine said, “Dude, we have to go to McNellie’s.” I am the adventurous type, so when I saw all of the brews available I went nuts. I tried random beers, asked the servers about the beers, asked those with me about beers they liked, researched them, etc.
That was 6 years ago.
Oklahoma’s craft beer scene as evolved tremendously since that time. We have great places like BierGarten, McNellie’s, R Bar in Tulsa, and Tap Werks in OKC providing us with a fantastic selection of beer daily and hosting beer events, but we have to get involved. Tap Werks is presenting the Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival at their location in Bricktown on May 18th. If you have not bought your tickets do so NOW! This is a great way to try a variety of beers and meet great beer folks. I have my ticket. Let’s have a beer!