Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival and Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week join forces 

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When Nick Trougakos started writing about beer in 2008, hosting a craft beer week or festival in Oklahoma City would have been almost impossible.

“We didn’t have enough breweries or beers or bars or even the appetite for cutting-edge beers at the time,” he said. “But things have progressed a lot since then.”

The number of state-based breweries quickly multiplied, and with them came a number of craft beer enthusiasts who had grown tired of the same slate of predictable national beers. In 2010, TapWerks Ale House general manager Greg Powell started Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival in the restaurant’s parking lot.

Attendance wasn’t bad; about 300 showed up, sampled brews and connected with other fans. Since then, it has grown exponentially.

The sixth annual Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival is spread into three sessions over two days, June 17-18, at Cox Convention Center, 1 Myriad Gardens.

Tickets are $40 for Friday or Saturday evening sessions and $50 for the VIP Saturday afternoon session.

Each session includes unlimited 1 oz. samples of more than 300 beers from about 80 breweries, with a focus on local brewers. Oklahoma brewers scheduled to attend are Twisted Spike Brewery, Elk Valley Brewing Co., Mustang Brewing Company, Battered Boar Brewing Company, Iron Monk Brewing Company, Nothing’s Left Brewing Company, 405 Brewing Co., Marshall Brewing Company, Dead Armadillo Craft Brewing, Anthem Brewing Company, Royal Bavaria Brewery, COOP Ale Works, Choc Beer Company, Bricktown Brewery, Belle Isle Brewery, Black Mesa Brewing Company, Prairie Artisan Ales and Roughtail Brewing Company.

Designated driver tickets are $15 and include free nonalcoholic sodas and snacks.

For those drinking, there will be food trucks at each session, but food prices aren’t included in the festival ticket price.

Beer backdrop

Breaking the festival into three sessions means beer lovers spend less time in line and more time tasting brews and talking to representatives from state, national and international breweries.

The event moved to Cox Convention Center last year because of an inclement weather threat, but Trougakos said it ended up enhancing the festival’s feel.

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“It felt like a real-deal beer convention, like you might travel to attend,” he said.

Powell chose to keep the festival at Cox and go for an even bigger room, responding to last year’s sellout crowds.

However, the festival is far from the only craft beer event in town. Trougakos organized the third annual Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week, which celebrates the city’s many bars and home and professional brewers. It runs Saturday through June 19.

Much to his chagrin, Tulsa beat Oklahoma City to the punch on a craft beer week four years ago.

“The landscape here has changed,” he said. “I wondered why we were behind the game. We’re not going to get left behind with a thriving craft beer scene here.”

There were plenty of craft beer events, Trougakos said, but it was a matter of getting everyone on the same page in the same week. Every brewery he asked wanted to participate.

This year, he transforms from a beer lover to a beer-loving brewer — kind of.

Trougakos worked with Roughtail on a collaboration brew that will only be sold 6 p.m. Monday at the brewery’s taphouse, 1279 N. Air Depot Blvd.

A double black India pale ale, or IPA, at a hearty 7.5 percent alcohol by weight, the brew is dark as night and was aged on raspberries and three kinds of peppers for a unique, spicy, fruity flavor.

This is also the first year Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week features a kickoff event. It’s 2 p.m. Saturday and is put on by League of Oklahomans for Change in Alcohol Laws (LOCAL), Hillbilly’s and S&B’s Burger Joint’s 20 NW Ninth St. location. The party closes down the street and includes a cookout and bean bag toss games.

“TapWerks is having an event every night that week, and Oak & Ore is, too,” Trougakos said. “When you look at the way it’s being embraced in different districts, you can tell people understand what this week is about.”

The proliferation of breweries, including Anthem, COOP, Roughtail, Prairie, Marshall and more being planned and built, makes it clear Oklahoma already gets it when it comes to craft beer.

Learn more at oklahomacraftbeerfestival.com. Find a Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week schedule at facebook.com/okccraftbeerweek.

Print headline: Beer skies, Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival and Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week combine to showcase the local love of brews.

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