Sometimes I think about how the inaugural Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week turned out, and it kind of blows my mind.
The idea for the week was planted in 2013, actually, not long after the fine beer people over in Tulsa announced plans for their first craft beer week.
It never really got past the idea phase, until this year. When Tulsa announced plans for their second craft beer week, it was like a kick in the backside. Wait a minute, I thought, over here in OKC, we’ve got like nine functioning breweries. We’ve got great beer fans. We’ve got a really thriving beer scene.
And, we already had a crown jewel in place for a beer week in the form of the Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival.
So I went to work. I reached out to just about every beermaker in the state, sought out venues and enlisted our two homebrew supply stores. Pretty much everyone was on board right off the bat. In fact, it was less “Sure, we might be interested,” and more “This is great, just tell us what we can do.”
As the week drew closer and as people realized this thing was actually happening, even more people came on board. It was really pretty wild to consider that a couple months ago, I was sitting around the house thinking, “You know, we should start a craft beer week in Oklahoma City,” and from that it morphed into more than 30 events over eight days. People were even hijacking the week, in a manner of speaking, and adding unsolicited events under the OKC-CBW flag.
In the end, I look back at the week as being a success. Almost all of the events I went to were well-attended. The Mule ran out of Choc glasses; Republic pulled in a great mid-week crowd and had to ask for more COOP glasses; Wes Welker’s hosted its first beer pint night, with Roughtail glasses; and Learn to Brew filled up a homebrew class even after raising the number of participants.
And we can’t forget to mention that the fourth annual Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival sold out both sessions, with more than 2,000 tickets sold.
There are things I would do differently, for sure, including coordinating event times a little more aggressively and perhaps even limiting the amount of events.
But overall I thought it was a great start. And I’d be sorry if I didn’t take time to give formal thanks to some of the people who helped.
First, big-time kudos to Greg Powell and his crew at TapWerks. Not only did they undertake OCBF yet again, but they really did provide the back-bone for the week. Knowing that TapWerks would host a beer night each day of that week provided a great starting point. When I started planning, I knew that if nobody else agreed to host events, we could still have a pretty cool beer week with just what TapWerks was doing.
Thanks go out to the state’s brewers, notably — but not limited to – Roughtail, Anthem, Mustang, COOP, Bricktown and Belle Isle. They opened their doors to visitors, offered samples, provided glassware and generally helped spread the craft beer gospel.
Thanks go to Gail White at The Brew Shop and Scott Windsor at Learn to Brew. Our local homebrew shops are also on the front lines of the Oklahoma craft beer movement. And of course all the bars and restaurants that hosted pint nights were great.
Last but not least, I have to thank my wife, Mrs. Beagle. Her marketing, social media and graphic design skills are top notch — it was her design work that gave so much credibility to our logo and flyers. And it was her who kept me on track and encouraged me not just to have an OK week, but to try for an awesome week. Thanks, Mrs. Beagle, you’re the best.
So, now we start to get ready for next year. I already have a few cool ideas kicking around, and I know that by this time next year, we’ll have a few new brewers on the scene. I think everyone will like what we have in store.