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Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival seeks to grow state's beer culture

Beer-tasting event will feature more than 200 beers, many made by Oklahoma brewers.
BY NICK TROUGAKOS Modified: May 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm •  Published: May 15, 2013

Greg Powell will serve you a Bud Light if you really want one.

But Powell, the general manager at TapWerks Ale House in Bricktown, might be just as likely to stage a beer intervention.

Given the chance, he'll recommend a craft beer — especially one brewed in a small batch by an Oklahoma brewer.

That's exactly the type of drink beer enthusiasts will be able to sample Saturday at the third annual Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival. The beer-tasting event — set in the parking lot next door to TapWerks, 121 E Sheridan Ave. — will feature more than 200 beers from roughly 50 breweries, including all of Oklahoma's licensed brewers.

Powell said this year's festival will be the largest to date, with as many as 2,000 expected to converge on Bricktown for the event. The growth of the festival in some ways mirrors that of the state's craft beer scene, with new breweries popping up every few months.

“You go to other quote-unquote beer cities, like Portland, and they have like ... 40 breweries for that one city,” Powell said. “It's cool to see Oklahoma City, and Oklahoma in general, getting to that point.”

One of the new local breweries to pop up is Roughtail Brewing Co., which opened its commercial brewhouse earlier this year in Midwest City. Roughtail will offer samples at this year's festival, said head brewer Tony Tielli, who attended the first Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival in 2011.

“We attended that and it was so cool to actually have an event like that here, in the city, in the state,” Tielli said. “It was a blast. We got to try a ton of great beers. It really was one of the fundamental things that spurred on the craft beer movement here in the city.”

Tielli said the taste of beer drinkers in the state is changing and maturing.

“It seems like there's a lot of people out there that are thirsty for this stuff, and are really looking for flavorful craft beers,” he said. “I'm just really excited that we can be just a little, small part of that.”

Tielli's business partner, Roughtail CEO Blaine Stansel, said the festival offers a huge opportunity for a startup brewery like theirs to garner public attention.

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