craft beer

Hops in Heaven: Anthem Brewing in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Transitioning from an 8th grade U.S. history teacher to become a brewmaster isn’t usually in the cards for most people, but it’s the path Patrick Lively took.  Lively came on board at Anthem Brewing Company in 2014 after founder and brewmaster Matt Anthony left the company (read more about the brewery’s early history).  Patrick spent five years working at COOP Ale Works before coming to Anthem, which had just relocated to its current location on S.W. 4th Street following a 2013 tornado that destroyed the brewery’s previous co-operative location on North Meridian Avenue that it shared with OKCity Brewing, Redbud Brewing, and Black Mesa Brewing.

Like many breweries, Anthem is in an industrial area with few restaurants or other entertainment options nearby.  According to Lively, the building was previously a transmission shop.  Visitors driving up to the brewery wouldn’t be able to tell what is inside the building without the exterior signage.

Entrance to the brewery.

Once inside the brewery it’s quite a different feeling.  There’s even signage making sure you don’t get lost after entering the lobby and turn around and leave.

Sign pointing customers to the taproom.

The signage directing people to the taproom is humorous because the only other option is to turn around and leave.

Once inside the taproom, visitors see the brew kettles and fermentation tanks you’d expect to see at an American craft brewery.  At work since 5 a.m. standing over a brew kettle is where my wife Katie and I found Patrick when we arrived around ten o’clock.

Brewmaster Patrick Lively at work in the brewery.

As Patrick finished up his work, we were greeted by taproom manager Ben Childers.  After updating the brewery’s beer list on Untappd, he asked what we wanted to drink and then decided he’s give us a sample of everything they had on draft.  The brewery is a verified venue on Untappd, which means people who use the free social media app are able to check the brewery’s tap list without leaving the comfort of their home.

Taproom manager Ben Childers working on preparing a flight of beers.

As Ben worked on preparing the flights, I took the opportunity to walk around the taproom and take a few more pictures.  So I found the brewery’s merchandise in a corner with a display of all its T-shirts.

The corner of the brewery with its selection of T-shirts and other merchandise.

The taproom is part of the brewery itself, so I didn’t feel like walking through the entire working area to get pictures.  However, I made sure to capture a picture of the barrels Anthem was using for some specialty beers.

A view of the seating area and some of the brewery’s barrels.

It is through the loading dock that all of the company’s supplies arrive and all the beer departs.

Occasionally, a food truck parks outside.  However, the lack of other potential customers in the area has made it difficult for Anthem to consistently attract a food truck.  Lively noted that the biggest boom to the brewery has been the change in beer laws allowing breweries in Oklahoma to brew higher ABV beer, and most importantly, to sell beers with higher ABV on site at the brewery.

For example, Anthem had on draft Bourbon Barrel Golden One, which is a variant of one of the brewery’s core beers Golden One.  Bourbon Barrel Golden One has a 7.0% ABV, which means the brewery would not have been able to serve it in the taproom under the previous state laws.

So onto the beer…

A flight of beers.

With more freedom to brew different beers, the draft offering at Anthem have expanded since the beer laws have changed.  The flight pictured above is a great example.  Ben set us up with four lighter beers, their OK Pils (a German pilsner) and three goses (their standard gose, a blood orange gose, and a dry-hopped gose).  Although sour ales are growing in popularity they can be hit-or-miss for some drinkers, but the brewery’s four core beers provide a great introduction to craft beer.

I sampled Arjuna (a Belgian wit), Golden One (a Belgian blonde), IPA, and Uroboros (a stout).  All are excellent representations of their styles.  However, my favorite beer was the Blood Orange Gose.  It was tart yet with a hint of sweetness.  It was so delicious that my wife and I got a growler fill because we wanted more of it.

Katie and I were at Anthem during the morning in the middle of the week, so we didn’t get to see or get a feel for the customers at Anthem.  However, the taproom has plenty of space with a variety of seating options from the bar top to bar-height tables to a countertop facing the brewing equipment.  With less restrictions, the brewery also features beers that you can only find at the taproom like the Blood Orange Gose.

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Categories: craft beer, Oklahoma

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