The number of licensed brewers in Oklahoma has grown once again.
Get ready for beers from accomplished homebrewer and Midwest City resident John Elkins and his Elk Valley Brewing Co.
Elkins will set up shop in the interim at Battered Boar Brewing Co. in Edmond, with an eye on opening his own facility in the near future.
I interviewed Elkins recently to learn more about his new company and his beer-making plans.
The Thirsty Beagle: Tell me about the origins of Elk Valley Brewing Co.; how long have you been brewing, and was it always a goal of yours to start your own brewery? How did you decide on the name?
John Elkins: Well, I started brewing in 2001 with my best friend and room mate Dave. We brewed probably twice a month for a little over a year. We dreamed of opening a brewery after we got back from the 2001 GABF and visiting some of the local Colorado breweries. But as time went on we were brewing less and less until we stopped all together and moved down our separate paths in life. Years later in 2007 on our honeymoon, Cynthia and I visited several breweries in Colorado. When we pulled into Left Hand Brewing Co. the smell of freshly mashed malt was in the air. I told Cynthia, that is what it smells like when you brew and she said she could get used to that. So she asked me if I wanted to get back into brewing and I said sure. Well a few batches in and a fire was started in me. I started brewing very often and joined a home brew club (High Plains Draughters) and the dream of opening a brewery came back. I spent a lot of time online learning and practicing the techniques out in the garage. I started entering competitions in 2010 to get some unbiased feedback and my beers started winning medals all over the country. I was planning on opening the brewery in 2015 but I came across a good deal on some equipment in August of 2013. I purchased the equipment, put it in dry storage, cashed in all of my accounts and started Elk Valley Brewing Co. I came up with the name from my nickname, Elk. I have been called Elk most of my life from my friends I grew up with, so I wanted that to be a part of the name. I have a fear of heights so I would much rather be in a valley than the peak of a mountain, ha ha.
TTB: What are you shooting for with your beers? Accessible? Edgy? Experimental? Something else?
John: What it boils down to is I will be brewing the beer I love to drink. So really there will be a bit of everything through out this beer journey.
TTB: When can we expect to see your beers on the market?
John: I am planning on releasing three beers in May.
TTB: What types of beers or beer styles should we expect to see first? What’s planned for down the road?
John: Two of the beers, Elk Valley Pale Ale, an American style pale ale, and Brother Dave’s Chocolate Porter will be year-round beers. And I found an awesome experimental hop that smelled and tasted great, so I will release eXperimental Imperial IPA also. This will most likely be a single-release since the hop growers aren’t even sure they will continue to grow it. As far as down the road I plan on having a small barrel-aging program with six releases. as well as some seasonal releases.
TTB: You’ll be starting out in a contract-brewing situation (at Battered Boar), not unlike several of Oklahoma’s brewers have done. Are you shooting to open your own brewery? If so, do you have a timeline for that?
John: Yes I will. Mike and I have been good friends for a long time. The opportunity came up to where we could help each other out. I brought in some equipment to help get the beer where he wanted it and for me to brew and package the beer the way I want. So this is a win/win situation. I had lost my investors less than two weeks before moving in to the facility we chose. So this is the chance I needed to not have to rely on others for financing. I’m looking to get the building before summer is over so I can get the paperwork started. I am very excited to bring some great craft beer to the public.
Thanks John! If you don’t want to wait until May to try Elk Valley’s beer, Elkins says he will be pouring at the upcoming Tulsa Craft Beer Week grand finale festival on April 19.