Since 2016, Oklahoma has taken strides to modernize its beer and liquor laws. One of the biggest changes was the state allowing breweries to sell beer on premise that was above 3.2 alcohol-by-weight. The change in the law motivated Bruce Sanchez to finally open his own brewery after 25-plus years as a homebrewer. So on December 10, 2016, Twisted Spike Brewing Company opened its doors.
Like many home brewers who realized their dream of opening a brewery, Bruce has a technical background that prepared him for his current undertaking. He worked for 25 years as a software engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He also won a handful of awards as a home brewer, too (see the list here). However, it was the changes in Oklahoma law that led him to open a brewery. As with any business, it was a lengthy process to find an appropriate site. Eventually Bruce settled on a location in Midtown Oklahoma City because of its proximity to a growing restaurant scene in the area and the more established Bricktown entertainment district, which is about a mile away.Customers see the bar the instantly when they come inside, but the layout also created a space in the front to display the brewery’s swag for sale. The building is also very long, which has allowed the brewery to rent out its space to host corporate holiday functions. The bar was built from a shipping container, which figures prominently into the brewery’s architecture.
Shortly after arriving and sitting down at the bar, we got to meet with owner Bruce Sanchez and got a detailed tour of the brewery. We started the tour in the brewing area, which has a window into the bar area. However, if you get to tour the facility, you enter the production area by walking through a shipping container. After walking through the shipping container, which Bruce employs to give the brewery a bit of an industrial feel because of its location in Automobile Alley, you see the fermentation tanks and other brewing equipment. From the production area, you can see the bar because of the cutout window. So like many breweries, customers enjoying a pint can see the beer being brewed on site.
In the back of the brewery, again with another window providing access to the process, is what Bruce calls “Funky Town.” A vibrant, eclectic design covers the wall looking down on a half dozen barrels that contain batches of barrel-aged beers. It is also the area that Sanchez hopes to use to brew sour beers, which have become a growing trend in the craft beer scene.After getting a tour from the owner and learning more about the brewery’s history and Bruce’s personal history as a homebrewer transitioning to full-time commercial brewer, we came back to the bar to have some beers. Twisted Spike has a pair of laminated sheets describing each of their eight core beers, so whether you’re a craft beer expert or novice you’ll learn a lot about your choices before ordering. With my wife Katie along, we split up the offerings to cover our bases. I ordered the Golden Spike (a saison), Crew Kölsch, Dirty Blonde, and Twisted Stache (a milk stout). My wife Katie had the whiskey-barrel-aged Black Snake (a Russian imperial stout), 10th St. Pale Ale, Holy Beer (a Belgian quad), and TSB IPA. All we very solid options. My favorites were the Golden Spike and Crew Kölsch, which are both light and approachable and very true to the traditional style.
Additionally, Twisted Spike’s beer is bottled and distributed throughout the state. So if you like something you had at the brewery the odds are very good that you can find the beer at home. Of course, you can also fill a growler and take home a 32- or 64-oz. bottle home with yourself.
Like many breweries, the atmosphere at Twisted Spike is fairly relaxed with a unique cross section of people. It is walking distance from a handful of Midtown Oklahoma City hotels and some residential areas, too. It’s also a great starting point for people exploring downtown wanting to sample some local craft beers before eating at one of the restaurants in Bricktown.