When I actually lived in Oklahoma I wasn’t much of a craft beer drinker because, you know, I was just a little kid. And little kids can only afford macro beers with their $1 a week allowances. But as I got older and returned from college and beyond to visit Oklahoma family and friends, hit up the bars, I’d be stupefied by two things:
1. Beers were often as cheap as 50 cents to a dollar a bottle.
2. And not only was the majority of beer macro shit, it was low-ABV macro shit.
I remember just five years ago going bar hopping with an Oklahoma friend in his element and noticing that at each new bar we hit up he’d inquire of the bartender, “Is your beer 3.2?”
3.2? What the fuck did that mean? Well apparently, many Oklahoma establishments, perhaps even due to law (though I’m too lazy to even Wikipedia this), don’t serve your standard 4-5% macro garbage put serve even more watered down 3.2% macro garbage.
Worse, Oklahoma is one of three states that still doesn’t allow homebrewing!
This obviously did not help create a culture of craft brewing nor does it exactly lead to Oklahoma being a hot bed of quality beer. Yet people persevere.
Without homebrewing, the minor leagues, or perhaps “semi-pros,” of commercial brewing, it’s hard to forge craft brewers in your state. Nevertheless, Eric Marshall of Marshall Brewing was able to open a brewery in Tulsa, Tulsa’s first production brewery since 1940, and they make some pretty nifty beers. I first became aware of them a few weeks ago when I saw a picture of their gorgeous wax-dipped bombers and instantly I wanted some.
Now they don’t distribute to New York City yet, but that didn’t stop me from sending a shameless e-mail to Mr. Marshall begging him to send me some bottles. Gratis. And he did. Gratis. (Meaning Marshall Brewing Co. is now in the Breweries-That-Send-Me-Free-Shit Hall of Fame along with The Lost Abbey and Buckbean, if you are interested FTC.*) I received essentially Marshall’s full line with the exception of their summer seasonal Sundown Wheat and their Old Pavilion Pilsner, both of which I hope to try soon. (A higher-ABV beer is also on the way apparently, which greatly interests me.)
McNellie’s Pub Ale
5% ABV bottled
Now the English bitter is not a style I deal with a lot, but, McNellie’s Pub Ale is ranked as one of Beer Advocate’s top of the style. I feel like bitters can be easy to confuse for a macro if you don’t focus on their very nice subtleties. This is a pleasantly light beer with a nice hoppy taste. Surprisingly bready and malty, though just barely, just enough to balance it out and let you know you’re drinking something complex and well thought out. The very bitter finish is it’s most noteworthy asset, while it’s overly prickly carbonation stands as its biggest debit. Nonetheless, a terrific session beer I’d drink the shit of if I lived back in the Sooner State.
Atlas India Pale Ale
6.5% ABV bottled
I was most excited to try this offering, more of an English IPA than your San Diego uber-hopped example of the style. Hoppy but not too bitter at all with a solid bready malt backbone. The dry dry finish almost makes Atlas seem more like an ESB than an IPA but there’s nothing wrong with that. A prickly carbonation (yet again) that I wouldn’t mind having toned down a tad. Solid and incredibly drinkable, a terrific beer.
6.8% ABV bottled
This highly drinkable porter introduces itself with a very rich chocolate smell. The taste is of dark cocoa with just a hint of hoppy bitterness, smoke, and a roasted coffee finish. A nicely mild carbonation, I thought Jamoke was a little thin on the mouthfeel but that’s my only quibble. I really enjoyed Jamoke and it’s a great effort.
One more thing on Marshall Brewing: now the wax-dipped bombers may be what first piqued my interest about the company (I’m a sucker for fancy pants packaging) but they ended up being what I liked least about the beers. The actual wax-dippings were more hardened plastic than silky wax, making the bottles hard to open and causing the brittle wax to keep breaking off into shards everywhere, onto my counter top, floor, some even fell into my glass as I poured.
*Brewers, if you’d like to join this prestigious Hall of Fame, please contact me: theviceblog [at] gmail.com