If your idea of a hot night out in Oklahoma City involves spending $600 for one bottle of beer, you are in luck.
That's exactly what you can order at TapWerks Ale House in Bricktown after the bar's recent introduction of a new rare- and cellared-beer menu.
Bar General Manager Greg Powell said he believes TapWerks, 121 E Sheridan Ave., is the state' first pub to roll out such a menu.
To make it possible, Powell has been setting back cases of popular beers. The collection — including a $600, six-liter bottle of St. Bernardus Abt 12 Belgian abbey ale from 2011 — is stored under lock in a climate-controlled cellar.
He said the idea to start a beer cellar took hold several years ago during a visit to a beer bar near Denver.
“We have visited some great beer bars around the country, and found that some of our favorites were already offering aged and rare beers on a specialty menu,” Powell said. “We just thought Oklahoma deserved a bar that offered the same thing.”
He said he started ordering extra cases of certain beers about three years ago. Not every style of beer is suitable for aging, but for those that are, the process can lead to a different product several years down the road. Some flavors in beer will mellow and fade over time, while others intensify.
Gary Shellman, the brewmaster for Oklahoma City's Mustang Brewing Co. and a certified beer judge, said he's had several outstanding beers that had been aged from five to 10 years.
“Strong ales age particularly well,” Shellman said. “Also, highly hopped beers age well, since hops are a natural preservative. Highly hopped beers do not generally maintain their high hop character over time, but as the hops fade, the malt character often becomes more dominant in the flavor profile.”
Choc Beer Co. brewmaster Michael Lalli said old ales, barley wines, imperial stouts and strong Belgian ales are ideal candidates for cellaring.
Lalli said he applauds Powell for having the foresight to set aside beer for cellaring. The beers kept in the cellar are generally of the 750-milliliter size and retail from roughly $20 up to $40 a bottle.
Lalli said he believes there will be a market for the beers.
TapWerks also recently introduced a new food menu, and updated its marquee along Sheridan Avenue.
Powell said the enhancements to the menus and the new sign signify bar staff's desire to remain a prominent destination for beer-savvy patrons, and for those who simply want to enjoy a good bar experience.
“I think TapWerks is evolving and growing along with the craft beer movement around the world,” Powell said. “We are also mindful of our location in an entertainment/tourism district. By that I mean, we get a lot of guests who are not at TapWerks to drink ‘fancy' beers; they just want a great bar experience. So we challenge ourselves to balance our passion for great beers with the need to create a friendly, comfortable bar in Bricktown.”
Powell said he's not certain anyone — beer snob or otherwise — will snap up the $600 St. Bernardus Abt 12, or a $350, three-liter bottle of Chimay Grand Reserve from 2010.
“We only have one of each of those, so if someone buys them, great,” he said. “If not, maybe in a few years we'll just pop them open at the staff Christmas party.”