To describe Oklahoma’s craft beer scene as “thriving” would be an understatement. World-class microbreweries have been popping up in every corner of the state during the last decade, releasing award-winning beers to national and international acclaim. Inspired by the styles of the moment and traditions of the past, Oklahoma’s bold and innovative brewmasters have carved out a unique place in a crowded field—and they don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Take a tour of some of the state’s most buzzed-about breweries and see what’s on tap in the Sooner State.
Few breweries anywhere have taken off as quickly or spectacularly as Prairie Artisan Ales. Started by Tulsa brothers Colin and Chase Healey, Prairie put the Oklahoma craft beer scene on the map shortly after launching in 2013. Renowned for their delightfully tart farmhouse ales and rich imperial stouts, this craft brewing powerhouse has since become synonymous with Oklahoma craft beer in the United States and beyond. Prairie’s flagship BOMB! regularly ranks as one of the best imperial stouts on the market, and what started as a passion project for two beer-loving brothers is now considered one of RateBeer’s “Top 100 Breweries in the World.”
The Healey brothers sold the brewery in 2016 to Krebs Brewing Company in the heart of Oklahoma’s Little Italy, where Prairie had been brewing on a contract basis since their beers first hit stores, but their signature recipes remain unchanged. Drop by the Prairie Brewpub in the Tulsa Arts District and see for yourself. You’ll definitely want to take your time sipping on special, limited-time brews and time-honored favorites at this stylish gastropub featuring some of the best beers and bites in the city.
BOMB! fans will want to drop by and savor the many different spins on this beloved classic—amped up with extra helpings of coffee, vanilla, cacao nibs and chili peppers—including special barrel-aged versions you can’t find anywhere else. If stouts aren’t your thing, try one of Prairie’s bright and funky farmhouse ales from their Funky Gold series, each bringing a different hop variety to the party with sharp citrus flavors and an earthy complexity. Others might opt for a clean German pilsner like Dave’s Pils, or the refreshing and French-inspired Prairie-vous Français. Prairie may be known for their bold and innovative approach to beer, but there’s a style for every taste at the Prairie Brewpub.
The story of Roughtail Brewing is common to many craft breweries in Oklahoma: two beer nuts begin brewing at home, honing their craft and sharing with friends before bringing their best recipes to a thirsty public. In this case, it was Roughtail founder Blaine Stansel who met brewmaster Tony Tieli at a local brewing club. They soon made the leap to commercial brewing and haven’t looked back. With their distinctive label designs and bold flavors, Roughtail has established itself as one of the most distinctive and lauded breweries in the state.
Intensity is the theme connecting the different offerings in Roughtail’s varied beer line-up. Their flagship IPA is an all-out hop bomb packing a delightfully bitter punch that leaves you wanting more. Roughtail’s Hoptometrist double IPA raises the stakes (and the alcohol by volume) with an even bigger and bolder beer that remains nicely balanced despite the aggressiveness of the hop profile. The Polar Night stout and 12th Round strong ale are rich, boozy delights that make great winter warmers. Drop by the Roughtail Taphouse in Midwest City for special releases like their highly-anticipated Adaption Ale, an experimental offering showcasing an ever-changing hop profile and malt bill.
Celebrating Oklahoma’s unique character is one of Black Mesa Brewing Company’s guiding principles, and you can taste it in every beer they make. The Oklahoma City brewery’s label design also showcases their connection to their home state: the Mountain Boomer Kolsch artwork features a vibrant rendering of the state reptile (the Collard lizard) and their award-winning Endless Skyway ESB—which took home the gold medal at the 2014 World Beer Cup—is named after a song by Woody Guthrie, one of Oklahoma’s favorite sons. Black Mesa Brewing operators Brad Stumph and Chris Sanders have made Oklahoma a core part of their identity as a brewery, and the results speak for themselves.
Hop heads will definitely want to check out Black Mesa’s Big Wheel IPA, an east coast-style IPA that’s more concerned with balance than bitterness. There’s also the Cave Dweller red ale, which flips the script and focuses on letting the hops shine over its subtle malt body. Keep an eye out for seasonal offerings like the highly-anticipated Los Naranjos, a rich imperial stout brewed with de-bittered black malts and a generous helping of java from OKC’s Elemental Coffee.
Marshall Brewing Company has been a long-time leader in the Tulsa craft beer scene. It was opened in 2008, making it the first commercial brewing facility in Tulsa since World War II. Marshall found success early, mostly due to the quality and reliability of its core line-up: Old Pavilion Pilsner, a classic inspired by founder Eric Marshall’s apprenticeship in Germany, McNellie’s Pub Ale, a traditional English bitter, the Atlas IPA and the Sundown Wheat.
In addition to these core offerings, Marshall also offers a potent India-style black ale year-round called El Chucuy. Be careful with this one; it’s got quite a kick. Also, don’t discount the seasonal offerings from Marshall. They offer a pale ale for summer, a porter for winter, a red ale for spring and, of course, a delicious Oktoberfest lager in the fall. If you have the desire to take a look behind the scenes, grab a friend and join one of their popular brewery tours.
COOP Ale Works enjoys the distinction of being one of the most successful Oklahoma City-based breweries in operation. Boasting a diverse and beloved line of beers that are also distinctive and delicious, COOP is an influential member of the state’s craft beer community. Co-founders JD Merryweather and Daniel Mercer have put together a distinguished operation and their experienced brewmaster Blake Jarolim has produced excellent beers in classic craft styles.
The Native Amber is a hop-forward red ale, the F5 is an invigorating west coast IPA hop explosion and the DNR is a strong, complex Belgian-style dark ale best enjoyed in moderation. If you’re looking for an easy drinking, session type beer, COOP also offers their Spare Rib pale ale and Briefcase Brown ale clocking in at an easy-sipping 3-4% alcohol by volume. Don’t miss exciting offerings in their Territorial Reserve series featuring rustic, barrel-aged stouts and barley wines, or their spring release Alpha Hive—a big and boozy imperial IPA brewed with generous amounts of orange blossom honey to soften the sting of the hops.
Brewmasters Gary Shellman and Mike Groshong started Mustang Brewing Company with a very simple goal in mind: brew quality, easy-drinking session beers for the people who love them. These straightforward, full-strength beers formed Mustang’s core line-up and have remained local favorites ever since. The Washita Wheat, Mustang Sixty-Six Lager and the Golden Ale are all crisp, clean and satisfying beers that rely on straightforward flavor profiles with a distinctive finesse that Mustang fans have come to know and love.
Not content to rest on their laurels, though, brewmasters Gary Shellman and Mike Groshong developed bigger and bolder beers for Mustang’s “Unbridled” series. This new line began strong with offerings like Rocket Fuel imperial IPA, a farmhouse session saison, the Frah-Gee-Lay sweet potato porter and even a refreshing strawberry wheat ale. Even more innovative and craft-forward is the brewery’s Saddlebag series, with even more adventurous brews like a chili-pepper infused IPA, an imperial stout with a heavy dose of tart raspberries and a strong Imperial porter brewed with vanilla and chocolate. Keep an eye out for more special releases in the future as Mustang Brewing continues to carve out their space in the Oklahoma craft beer community.
In Anthem’s early days, founder Matt Anthony shared space with Black Mesa and Mustang brewers at OKCity Brewing Co., a cooperative brewery in west downtown that has enabled local brewers to produce without the great expense of buying their own facility. Soon, Anthem was able to move into its own “urban farmhouse” brewery. Now, new brewmaster Patrick Lively and his team are poised to make a profound impact on the craft beer scene in Oklahoma and beyond.
Presently, Anthem features three core beers, all distinctly brewed in the rich Belgian tradition. The Golden One is a bright, citrusy blonde ale. Arjuna is a wit bier or white ale with fruity notes and a refreshing finish. The third is Uroborus, a robust Belgian-style stout with strong notes of roasted malts, chocolate and dark candied sugar. Anthem also regularly produces special release beers like a sour ale aged in oak, an ale aged in tequila barrels and a Belgian-style blond aged in bourbon barrels. An IPA and other tasty developments are brewing at Anthem as well, so keep an eye out for new releases.
Huebert Brewing is the microbrewery that started it all. Before 2003—the year Huebert Brewing first went into operation—beer brewing in Oklahoma was limited to restaurants or bars that brewed their own beer and served it on site. These brewpubs were not allowed to bottle or distribute their beer to the general public. Rick Huebert, however, was quite determined to fulfill his dream of starting a brewery. As he diligently accumulated the equipment and supplies to get started, Huebert, along with his state senator Kathleen Wilcoxson, worked diligently with Oklahoma lawmakers to introduce legislation that made it legal to operate a stand-alone brewery and distribute the beer for sale. With the laws in place, Huebert was able to begin brewing, and the craft beer movement in Oklahoma began.
Huebert beers began finding their way onto liquor store shelves and bar counters soon after, and the brewery began to attract a following of customers looking for bolder local beers. Now, 15 plus years later, Huebert is still producing Oklahoma craft beer. The classic beer styles are well-represented in the Huebert line: Tucker American Pale Ale, Wild Pony Wheat, Rasenmaher (a German-style Kolsch) and the Deep Deuce Porter are served around the state.
A bastion from the days of the brewpub, CHOC beer is produced in the brewery at Pete’s Place, the legendary Italian restaurant in Krebs. After the change in brewing laws, CHOC beer was able to leave the tasting room at Pete’s and spread to bars and stores all over the state. Their classic, unfiltered wheat beer has long been the cornerstone of the CHOC line-up, and now the 1919 brand has become one of Oklahoma’s most recognizable beer labels.
However, there’s a lot more to CHOC than their refreshing summer wheat beer. Miner’s Light is a crisp American lager and a tribute to Krebs’s strong mining history. A sweet, light peach brew, an American white ale and a spring IPA round out the roster at CHOC. Though, in case you think it’s all bright and summery beers at CHOC, sample their rich, malty, gold medal winning, abbey-style Signature Dubbel for a taste of something different.
Started by Prairie Artisan Ales founder Chase Healey, American Solera was named the best new brewery in the United States—and the second in the world—at the 2017 RateBeer Best Awards. If it's bright and funky brews you're looking for, check out offerings like the Bright Black Delight blackberry or Rose Gold raspberry sour ales. Hop lovers will definitely want to seek out the Terp Surp double IPA, starring a harmonious trio of Citra, Amarillo and Simcoe hops. The Mocha Dilemma, a decadent milk stout aged on coffee and chocolate, is a go-to if your taste skews toward rich and malty. Come to the American Solera Taproom in Tulsa and try a couple offerings—or, if you can’t decide, get the Solera Sampler featuring four six-ounce pours of different styles. With food trucks, live music and more, a trip to the American Solera Taproom is a great way to kick off your next Tulsa weekend.
An exciting, flourishing brewery now based in Tulsa, Dead Armadillo Brewery is making waves in the craft brewing community. Their flagship brew and most popular selection is their classic American amber ale. A well-balanced, eminently drinkable beer with notes of caramel sweetness, roasted malt and a slightly bitter finish, this amber has been gaining popularity since Dead Armadillo started operations in June of 2013. Since then, brewmaster Mason Beecroft and co-founder Tony Peck have shown that they have much more up their sleeves.
Dead Armadillo’s sophomore effort was a creative take on a lesser-known style of brew called black ale. Dubbed the Black Hop, this intriguing beer is brewed with an array of dark malts and a healthy dose of Northwest hops to create a rich coffee and bitter chocolate sweetness finished with a light and refreshing bitterness (an intense, satisfying draught). The Dead Ball Hooligan is their version of Belgian-style session beer brewed in cooperation with the Tulsa Athletic Soccer Club. They also have an IPA and an American pale ale that have made the rounds at festivals and brewing events.
Iron Monk has the distinction of being Stillwater’s first craft brewery, and they have proven themselves to be a valuable addition to the Oklahoma craft beer world. Their flagship milk stout and Payne County imperial IPA laid the initial groundwork for this rising brewery’s identity, and brewery founders Dave Monks and Jerod Millirons capitalized a year after their 2014 launch with the opening of the Iron Monk Brewing Company Taproom. You can always find heavy hitters like Stilly Wheat on tap, along with special releases like Holiday Orange Berry Wheat, Somethin’ Pumpkin and Chocolate Habanero Stout.
A smaller brewery operating out of Edmond, Battered Boar produces excellent craft beers of surprising variety. Seven beers make up the core line-up including the rich and slightly sweet Briar Patch Amber, the golden red, aromatic Company Man Pale and the straightforward and satisfying 405 Oklahoma Lager. Their Chuck’s Pumpkin Ale, brewed with real Oklahoma sugar pumpkins and loads of fresh ground spices, is a sweet, fragrant treat full of autumnal flavors. A coconut cream stout and a pair of refreshing unfiltered wheat beers round out their permanent offerings, but Battered Boar also releases popular seasonal and specialty brews throughout the year.
Twins Bazil Twins, a unique farmhouse ale, dry-hopped with Thai basil and Szechuan peppercorns, offers an unusual but compelling flavor profile. It’s more drinkable cousins are their La Padite and Lion’s Tooth Floret, which are more traditional and subtle saisons. The Chocolate Cherry porter and Stumbling Goat imperial stout are further examples of their bold approach and are sure to warm the hearts of craft beer fans everywhere. Keep an eye out for more special releases from this hard-working brewery.
This Oklahoma City-based brewery has been a hot topic in craft beer circles since they released their popular Nemesis imperial stout in 2014. In addition to this coffee-aged knockout, Elk Valley also features a diverse core lineup ranging from hoppy pale ales to refreshing farmhouse ales. This catalog offers plenty to love year-round, but you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for seasonal releases like Pumpion, an imperial pumpkin ale aged in bourbon barrels with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and whole cloves. Elk Valley’s barrel-aging program is also a point of pride, producing whiskey and rum barrel-aged varieties of their beloved Nemesis, along with experiments like Apricot Le Ferme: a tart farmhouse ale aged in chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces yeast and apricots.
While Oklahoma's craft beer scene continues to refine its identity, expect to see more new breweries popping up around the state. Here are a few up-and-comers, in particular, to keep an eye on:
Vanessa House Beer Co. – What started as a humble home-brewing setup in a kitchen shared by five friends at their shared Vanessa Street home in Norman has since become a full-blown bottling operation. The young brewery debuted in late 2016 with their 401k cream ale, an easy-drinking brew with a refreshing malt body supporting its light citrus-forward hop profile. Vanessa House’s second offering, 5th Keg, is a dark and creamy brown ale with flavors that are sweeter and less roasty than traditional stouts or porters. With these two heavy hitters under their belt, Vanessa House is quickly becoming a brewery to watch.
The Willows Family Ales –When Tulsa home brewer Heath Glover got laid off from his day job as a pharmaceutical rep, he decided to throw himself into commercial brewing and The Willows Family Ales was born. Under the mentorship of Prairie Ales co-founder Chase Healey, Glover perfected his craft at Prairie’s facilities and released the brewery’s flagship Family Ale—a bright and funky sour beer with notes of peach, berries and spices. Coffee lovers won’t want to miss Willows Family’s Bump n’ Grind coffee saison, starring huge java flavors offset by a sweeter malt bill for balance. Keep an eye out for offerings from this rising Tulsa brewery.
(405) Brewing Company – 405 Brewing Company began with the mission of bringing craft beer to Norman, and the brewery been gathering steam since owners Jonathan Stapleton and Trae Carson whipped up their very first batch at home. Since releasing their first commercial beer, FDR—an imperial stout brewed from four different chocolate malts and 30 pounds of locally-roasted Mariposa coffee—405 Brewing Company has brought a variety of styles to Oklahoma's thirsty craft beer lovers. Stop by the 405 Brewing Co. Taproom in Norman and see what makes their beers stand out in a craft beer scene full of heavy hitters.
Twisted Spike – The first craft brewery to open in OKC’s Automobile Alley, Twisted Spike serves up a wide range of styles that are sure to satisfy beer lovers of all stripes. Drop by their industrial-chic tasting room located in a vacated warehouse near the railroad tracks off I-235 and sip on beers like the Golden Spike saison, Holy Beer Belgian quad, Twisted Stache milk stout and more.
This has been a quick tour through the hoppy, malty and refreshing world of Oklahoma craft beer. Just as the state’s diverse terrain offers something for everyone, its craft brewers also have a style for every taste. Whether you’re looking for crisp pilsners, knockout stouts, lip-puckering sours or sessionable pale ales, you’re bound to find an Oklahoma craft beer (or two, or three) that will knock your socks off.