Moonshining might be on the rise in Oklahoma, but legal liquor also appears to be surging.
And while the rise in outlaw alcohol in southeastern parts of the state is tied to high unemployment and pronounced poverty, Oklahoma’s craft beer boom is symptom of craftsmanship and local pride.
Boutique brewers in Krebs, Oklahoma City and Tulsa are bringing in awards, expanding operations, and exporting to big city markets like Dallas, the Tulsa World‘s Nicole Marhsall Middleton reports:
The “buy local” movement has also driven the craft beer industry, where building relationships and “meeting the guy who makes the beer,” is a strong selling point, Wes Alexander of Tulsa’s Marshall Brewing tells the paper. Marshall beer launched during the recession yet prospered because consumers took a look at what they had in their pockets and demanded quality in return.
Choc Beer in Krebs produced about 3,000 barrels of beer this year, the World reports. Oklahoma City’s COOP Ale Works has doubled sales almost every year since they started production in 2009, and now produces about 3,000 barrels a year. And “Marshall expects to sell 4,000 barrels this year,” the paper reports.
The brewing business is booming, and the beer makers are starting to realize their impact on local economies. Brewers see the potential, the World reports, and are organizing themselves to leverage their community clout to influence state policy:
One such change was the goal of a legislative measure that died in March. The bill would have allowed a total of 10 ounces of free samples per visitor per day.
It made it through the committee process with the support of the Appropriations & Budget committee, and it had no objections from the Oklahoma Alcohol Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission (ABLE). But it wasn’t given a floor vote by the House of Representatives, killing the bill.