Oklahoma's First American Homebrewers Association Rally
Roughtail Brewing Company, located at 1279 N. Air Depot, held Oklahoma’s first American Homebrewers Association (AHA) Rally on Saturday November 11. The event was held from noon until 3 p.m. and open to the public. The AHA hosts a series of AHA Rallies nationwide to give homebrewers the chance to check out some of their local breweries and connect with other beer enthusiasts and homebrewers in their area, but this was the first one held in Oklahoma.
I had the pleasure of interviewing and mingling with the crowd during the event, as well as trying some of the delicious brews they had available including a red Jameson beer, a mango pineapple cider and my personal favorite a chocolate cocoa stout that was divine. Not only were the beers delightful, but the people were warm, friendly and inviting. Their passion for homebrewing was contagious and their camaraderie with one another was very obvious.
“It’s much more popular than people realize, but it’s also a very tight knit community. There are lots of local clubs.” Said Brandon Jones, who is a part of the Red Earth Brewers group and also helped coordinate the event. “We have the Oklahoma City club, the Stillwater club and the Tulsa club that are all here today. We all kind of know each other anyway but it’s just a good time to hang out together. A lot of our local breweries, I know for a fact that Tony and Blaine here at Roughtail started as homebrewers so it’s a lot of fun to watch them go from brewing small 5 gallon batches to this in the last 5-6 years.”
The Rally offered attendees the opportunity to take home five gallons of unfermented beer for AHA members to ferment at home. Attendees were also able to take a VIP brewery tour, enjoy beer samples, and meet Roughtail brewers and staff. There were many different types and kinds of beers and ciders to try that the homebrewers also brought in to share as well.
“It’s really just a chance for members of the home brewers association to get together and share beers and talk about brewing and you know, cultivate the hobby a little bit.” Said Tony Tielli, the co-owner of Roughtail Brewing. “It’s a great space to do it, we’re pretty excited to have everyone out here.”
The AHA has worked on behalf of the homebrewing community since 1978 and celebrates a membership of more than 46,000 homebrewers. They organize events including Homebrew Con and the National Homebrew Competition. The AHA also publishes Zymurgy magazine and offers the Brew Guru™ mobile app. The AHA is part of the Brewers Association (BA), whose independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers. The BA’s Brewers Publications division is the largest publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers and homebrewers.
“I just like to have something I made and I know what’s in it. Especially the beer, I start with the grain and do it. I start with the whole grain instead of extract. It takes most of a day, I crush the grain the same day, you have to let the grain seep for an hour and you have to boil it, and you have all the clean up and set up,” explained Victor Castagnoli, a homebrewer who was in attendance. “I don’t go too off the mark, I’m not really into the real hoppy IPAs. I just did a brown and a stout, it’s mainly just for myself and my friends.”
Many of the homebrewers at the event had different reasons for taking up brewing and different parts that they enjoyed the most.
“I like actually thinking up what I want to brew and putting my recipe together. I mean the whole thing from start to finish is a lot of fun. I like to just sit and think about what I like about various commercial beers that I’ve tried and how do I want to try to put that into my own beer,” said home brewer Franz Hofer, who is a member of the Stillwater Brewers League. “My wife grows a lot of stuff, so I did a basil with honey from a beekeeper who lives in the neighborhood.”
The Red Earth Brewers Club is the Oklahoma City home brew club and was among the clubs represented at the event. They have 123 current active members and stay busy in the local beer brewing community. They host a happy hour the first Thursday of every month which will be held at Saint’s Pub in the Plaza District in December. They also host a meeting every third Thursday of the month which rotates to different venues each time, typically at a local brewery. If you are interested in joining you can find them online at www.redearthbrewers.com or on their Facebook page.
“It’s just a great community to be a part of. We’re tight knit, everyone knows one another and everyone is helping each other out,” said Kevin Lapham who is the President of the Red Earth Brewers club. “When I first started home brewing, it was mainly because I didn’t want to drink the same stuff off the shelf. I just wanted to make my own. Then I kind of went to a different aspect of it and became more standardized. I got really heavily involved in the judging process and styles standards and style guidelines, and I’m starting to move a little bit away from that now and getting more creative. I’ll do a lot of fruit beers in the summer time for our festival and things. I’m about to do one for our Christmas party, a chocolate milk stout and I’m going to do what is called randalling it, running it through a filter of candy canes, it’s a lot of fun.”
Also on a sidenote, Kevin Lapham and I used to hang out as teenagers in the 90's and hadn't seen one another in person in at least 20 years, so the event was a fun reunion of sorts as well. That and he promised to give me some of the holiday milk chocolate stout as well, which I am super excited about. It sounds delectable.
Roughtail Brewing Company has been in business for about 4 ½ years and has been located in Midwest City the entire time. They specialize in hop core beers which are IPAs and double IPAs, but also have a wide variety of beers. In August of 2016 the law was passed allowing breweries to sell directly to consumers, which was when they opened their front tap room. The tap room is open Thursday thru Sunday. It also features a mural from one of my favorite local artists, Dylan Bradway.
“We sell beer that you can drink here and take home. We have a variety of beers, not just IPAs. So if you’ve tried one of our beers that you bought at the liquor store and you liked it, we’ve got an even better selection here at the brewery, or maybe IPA is not your thing, we have an even bigger selection at the brewery so come by and check it out,” said Tielli. “On Sunday we can sell cold strong beer to go, it’s the only place you can buy it in the entire state, is in a brewery so if you need some beers on Sunday come and see us. We like to make beers that we like to drink and have fun doing it.”
Beer lovers and anyone interested in making their own beer are invited to learn more at HomebrewersAssociation.org. You can also follow the AHA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.