Brian Welzbacher / Contributor
Back in the summer of 2007, I attended a Tulsa Drillers game. I’ve always enjoyed baseball as a St. Louis Cardinals fan growing up on the east side of the Mississippi in Illinois. Just the atmosphere of friends and family coming together for a shared interest and love of baseball always seemed so inviting to me. As a kid it was always the stadium hot dogs that just made things click. Now, as an adult, beer is synonymous with the leisure sport and for some, the only way to enjoy the game. Back in 2007 I had branched out into the “craft” beer world not because it was a fad, but more that I enjoyed variety. In St. Louis there had been quite a variety. However, in Tulsa, I soon learned that it was lacking. That being said I thoroughly enjoyed my Choc 1919 pale wheat on that warm summer day as I discovered a new beer and not subjected to yellow fizzy water. Not long after, I moved from the comforts of home, to a new city that did not lend itself well in the ways of libations.
For those true natives to Oklahoma, you knew about the archaic and outdated alcohol laws that shackled many of your options. The liquor by the wink era and social clubs were all too common in the 70's and selection was based on how far out of state you wanted to drive for that slightly higher ABV Bud Light. For a state that did not repeal prohibition until 1959, Oklahoma was doomed to be behind the curve of modernizing alcohol laws and therefore, the public was punished due to lack of options and millions in revenue for the state.
"Support your local brewer."
I only learned these factoids after not seeing enough craft beer culture in the state. So I started my own enthusiasm group. In 2012, I created Beer is OK in hopes to bring together fellow craft beer enthusiasts to drink and explore the world of craft together. With few breweries and strict laws, it progressed slowly. It turned into a blog and podcast to help inform the public and document Oklahoma’s resurgence into the craft market. I developed relationships with breweries coming online, volunteered and participated in beer festivals and even helped bottle with Prairie/American Solera. Paired with my graphic design skills I created iconic products that I thought others like myself would enjoy having and wearing to display their pride for Oklahoma craft beer.
Today, Oklahoma is rich in beer culture thanks to the past few years and especially with the passing of SB 792, allowing our local breweries to sell their own products directly to the public. Eliminating the need for a distributor to an extent to solely make a profit; they can now host you at their taproom and give you the full experience of a microbrewery as intended. Taprooms selling direct to the public is the newest wave in our state and allows us to catch up with the rest of the country.
The neighborhood watering hole will be your local brewery as it was in pre-prohibition times. It is my firm belief that where there are successful breweries, a lush and prolific city will reap the benefits of more jobs and revenue coming into the state. Support your local brewer, here and wherever you may travel. Prost!
June 19, 2017