When the sun came up on June 1, the brewhouse at the OKCity Brewing Cooperative did not look good.
The combination of winds, rains and tornadoes that swept through the Oklahoma City area the night before caused the roof to collapse, sending debris crashing down onto the gleaming stainless steel beer brewing tanks below.
One of the cooperative's brewers, Matt Anthony, of Anthem Brewing Co., described the scene as “devastating.”
“I knew it was bad, but I had no idea just how bad it really was until I saw it in person that morning after the storm,” Anthony said. “The devastation inside was incredible — mangled steel, wires and insulation on the tanks and the floor.”
When co-op owner and Mustang Brewing Co. President Tim Schoelen showed up at the building that morning, he too saw the damage. Only the blue sky was where the roof used to be. A large, rooftop air conditioning unit hung perilously over the brewhouse, which is on Sheridan Avenue just west of downtown Oklahoma City.
Move ahead nearly two weeks, and things haven't improved much, Schoelen said. The air conditioner has been removed, but more segments of the roof have fallen in. Debris still covers the brewing tanks. The structure suffers from a lack of stability that makes it unsafe — leaving demolition a likely option.
All that damage came only days after Mustang opened and filled its 12,000-square-foot warehouse with donations to support those affected by the May 20 Moore tornado.
“It's just a little irony that two weeks later, our brewhouse was taken out,” Schoelen said.
Nobody was at the brewhouse — which is home to Mustang, Anthem and Black Mesa brewing companies — at the time of the storms. The building also contains warehouse and storage space and an office area, but those areas did not sustain damage, Schoelen said.
“We've looked at some of the surveillance footage and you can see debris spinning around before the cameras were knocked out of commission,” he said.
Since that night, adjusters and a structural engineer have visited the site. Schoelen said all indications point to a three- to six-month period until the brewhouse will be operational again. As it stands now, the brewers are not allowed to enter the brewhouse because of the safety concerns. That obviously hampers beer-making efforts for all three companies.
Fortunately for Mustang, it may be positioned ideally to survive the lull.