To say the next big thing on the burgeoning Oklahoma craft beer scene looks somewhat inauspicious would be a bit of an understatement.
One look at the OKCity Brewing Co. warehouse from the outside, and you're not left with a great deal of confidence in its potential. The plain, yellowish building sits in a rundown area just west of downtown where the weeds that grow up through cracks in the concrete are taller than some cars.
But inside the new brewing cooperative, you find a dream space for any serious beer maker.
There are walls lined with towering stainless steel brew kettles and fermenting tanks. There's storage space for the several hundred pounds of grain brewers use to make each batch of beer. There's even an area to store oak barrels where artisanal craft beer can age.
In July, the cooperative added a third brewer to its roster of clients, further spurring the growing Oklahoma craft beer market, which has expanded rapidly over the past four years.
“It's about promoting our local Oklahoma brewers,” said Sibyl Kang, owner of OKCity Brewing. “We've got some great local guys here that make a great product. Our space allows them to get their product out into the market without the expensive cost of starting up on their own.”
OKCity Brewing opened its doors to its first beer maker in April, when Redbud Brewing christened the commercial brewing system. They welcomed a second brewer, Anthem Brewing, in May, and a third, Black Mesa Brewing, last month.
Kang said OKCity Brewing has the capacity to bring in more brewers and would even look to expand if the demand calls for it.
The idea of a brewing cooperative is one that is gaining steam across the country, as the number of people trying to brew commercial batches of beer outpaces the space and availability of equipment to do so. The cooperative also solves the problem of startup brewers with little capital being able to afford their own equipment.
At OKCity Brewing, as is typical at brewing cooperatives in other states, the brewers rent time on the equipment to make their beer, which they can then keg on site and ship to market.
Greg Powell, the manager at TapWerks Ale House and Cafe in Bricktown, said that influx of new local beers into the market is much appreciated.
“The growth in craft beer has shown everyone that the drinking populace wants options when it comes to beer,” Powell said. “It has also shown us that a city our size is large enough to support more than just a handful of breweries.