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Stumph hops on brewery co-op deal
Anthem Brewing and Black Mesa Brewing companies can trace their origins back to a cooperative brewery on Sheridan Avenue. In May 2013, the co-op was damaged by a tornado, and the brewers went their separate ways.
But Black Mesa Brewing co-founder Brad Stumph wanted to bring that incubator-type environment back to the state’s brewing industry, especially with the laws changing. He has restarted OKCity Brewing co-op. He purchased the former Mustang Brewing Co.’s equipment and is now leasing the property.
The OKCity Brewing, 520 N. Meridian Ave., is home to four breweries: Elk Valley, Angry Scotsman, Vanessa House, and Tulsa-based Kolibri Ale Works. Each brewery pays rent based on the amount of beer produced.
With these brewers on site, Stumph said the co-op is close to capacity, but he doesn’t expect that to last long. Angry Scotsman and Elk Valley have breweries under construction, and Vanessa House is narrowing down its property search.
“The idea of the co-op is you don’t have to risk a lot of capital to do this,” he said. “If you’ve wanted to start a brewery, you can do this for very low risk.”
The initial capital expenses for a nano-brewery, with a three-to-five barrel brewhouse, can cost about $100,000 in set-up costs. When it’s kicked up to a 15-barrel system, the cost can be $500,000.
Vanessa House co-owner Andrew Carrales said for the company, the co-op offers a huge revenue opportunity because now the brewery will have a taproom. Vanessa’s beer is made at O’Fallon Brewery in St. Louis.
“The (revenue) margin on beer shipped from O’Fallon is about 10 percent or less,” he said. “But at the taproom, we’ll have three times the revenue margin.”
Stumph said the taproom is being renovated now with brighter colors.
Carrales said the co-op’s 15-barrel system will let the brewery be more creative because the brewers won’t have to make as much product at one time. There’s less risk compared to the 50-barrel system used in O’Fallon.
Moving back to Oklahoma will also save on transportation costs and brand registration fees, which are $200 for every new beer type. The brewery has an additional price layer because it has to use a beer broker since the product is made outside the state.
“I asked our finance guy (about the co-op) and he said, ‘Yeah, we have to do this,’” Carrales said.
Angry Scotsman owner/founder Ross Harper said he was excited to be part of it so he can use the co-op’s equipment to get his beer to customers while his downtown brewery is under construction. He said it’s also a good opportunity to try out commercial-grade equipment.
“As someone who’s homebrewed for 12 years and now brewed on pro systems, I can tell you there’s a very steep learning curve,” he said.
He said he’ll have beer ready for wholesalers by Oct. 1. Getting to market faster is the biggest perk of being at the co-op, he said. His place won’t be open for at least six months.
But the co-op will let him own in three phases: produce beer there and get it in restaurants, open the brewery, and open his taproom.
“I’m pretty darn excited,” he said. “Having seen my friends (open breweries), I get more and more excited that we get to do it next.”
Starting in October, each co-op brewery will take over the taproom on Saturdays and serve their beers. Starting Oct. 7, the brewers will be Elk Valley, Angry Scotsman, Vanessa House, and Kolibri Ale Works. The grand opening is Nov. 3.
Stumph said he thinks these four brewers are only the beginning. He expects to generate business statewide.
“Now is the best time for this co-op,” he said.