(Submitted originally on 12/4/12 by Cassie DeLozier-Miller)
As a kid growing up in a tiny Oklahoma town, I didn’t really like it here. I spent a lot of time daydreaming of bigger cities full of people in fancy shoes. Taxi-cabs. Skyscrapers. Coast lines. I was pretty sure that as far as states went, mine was the plainest of the Great Plains.
Upon graduation from Oklahoma State University, I wanted to get as far away as possible. I reluctantly agreed to move from Stillwater to Tulsa with my husband. I told myself it was temporary and that I could survive until we moved to a real city. Within three months, I was in love. Streets like Boston Avenue felt like a big city, but easy Tulsa traffic let me get anywhere I needed to be in 20 minutes or less. Lofts were few and far between, but affordable. There wasn’t a whole lot going on in downtown in 2007, but there was an energy. You could tell things were starting to happen — people had ideas. Five years later, many of those ideas are now a reality.
If there’s one thing I still don’t get about Oklahoma after all of this time here, it’s our reluctance to embrace beer culture. I’m not talking about getting-smashed-and-making-a-fool-out-of-yourself culture. I’m talking about refined palettes mulling over flavors and smells that make beer unique during a guided tasting. I’m talking about understanding the art and science behind a process as old as the Bible.
I love Oklahoma, but I’m in love with the idea of what Oklahoma could be. I’m talking Napa Valley, people. Right now, there is no clear beer-equivalent to the wine-producing areas that have become tourism powerhouses. But there could be. In the first part of 2012, craft beer was the strongest growth sector in a multi-billion dollar industry. With support from their communities, Oklahoma brewers could be in the center of it all. In the middle of the country, accessible to all. We could be the Sonoma of beer. We could have hordes of tourists show up each year to visit our many breweries and learn about our delicious Oklahoma-made craft beer.
Our friend Brian, the founder of Beer Is OK, has a lot of plans for this club. I’m excited about hanging out with people who love craft beer as much as we do. I’m excited about shaking the hands of the brewers who make my favorite beers and touring their facilities. But mostly, I’m excited about the energy. Things are starting to happen, and people have ideas. I can’t wait to see the reality.