Renaissance Brewing Brings Oklahoma The Timeless Taste Of The Ages

Author: C. L. Harmon
Category: People | Tulsa | Uniquelahoma
Date Published: April 5, 2018

Renais­sance Brew­ing Brings Okla­homa The Time­less Taste Of The Ages

5

APRIL, 2018

Beer
Brew­ery
Okla­homa

It’s Beer Thir­ty! Yes, it is time to soak up the suds, open up the taps, and let the gold­en elixir flow. It is a potion of old dat­ing back over 5,000 years to Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Chi­na.  It was history’s first keg­ger which began with the world’s first civ­i­liza­tions.  Inter­est­ing, don’t you think…as soon as man real­izes he can use fire for some­thing else oth­er than stay­ing warm…he brews a beer with it? Beer is one of those man-made cre­ations that appear to just keep get­ting bet­ter with time, nev­er los­ing its lus­ter.  It’s a recipe that tran­scends bor­ders and beliefs with its ingre­di­ents that draw peo­ples togeth­er into a toast to cel­e­brate a taste for life…and the occa­sion­al buzz of course.

Thanks, in part, to some new alco­hol-relat­ed laws in Okla­homa and the con­tin­ued desire to brew and toast, the state has seen an enthu­si­as­tic jump­start to what could become a thriv­ing indus­try. Beer brew­ing is heat­ing up. Although it has been legal to home brew beer since 2010, sell­ing to the pub­lic on a brew­ery site has not been a legal option since August of 2016. With these and oth­er legal changes, the oppor­tu­ni­ties for brew­eries to make income out­side the whole­sale mar­ket have cre­at­ed quite a buzz them­selves amongst wannabe brew­ers in the state.

The tap­room at Renais­sance Brew­ery.

C.L. Har­mon

One of those beer enthu­si­asts is a real Renais­sance man by the name of Glenn Hall. The def­i­n­i­tion, accord­ing to the dic­tio­nary, is a man who has exper­tise in sev­er­al dif­fer­ent sub­ject mat­ters. Hall def­i­nite­ly fits into this cat­e­go­ry when it comes to build­ing Oklahoma’s first brew­ery from the ground up.  The project began six years ago when he and his wife Sarah began look­ing for indus­tri­al zoned prop­er­ty to build what is now Renais­sance Brew­ing Com­pa­ny locat­ed in the heart of mid-town Tul­sa.

This loca­tion was orig­i­nal­ly three sep­a­rate lots with dilap­i­dat­ed homes on them and zoned for com­mer­cial use.  He spent 2011-12 acquir­ing the prop­er­ties and then the fol­low­ing year he spent doing intern­ships at dif­fer­ent brew­eries and acquir­ing his for­mal edu­ca­tion in the beer brew­ing sci­ences. He also attend­ed the World Brew­ing Acad­e­my achiev­ing his Mas­ters in Brew­ing Tech­nol­o­gy and spent time in, Munich, Ger­many for his appren­tice­ship in 2013. He then spent the entire year of 2014 get­ting his new prop­er­ties zoned for indus­tri­al use.  It was an ardu­ous endeav­or, but suc­cess for the cou­ple and paving the way for oth­ers to get prop­er­ties zoned indus­tri­al much eas­i­er was the result.

We were the first brew­ery to ever chal­lenge any of the zon­ing laws in Tul­sa and the first and only brew­ery in Okla­homa to build from the ground up”.

We were the first brew­ery to ever chal­lenge any of the zon­ing laws in Tul­sa and the first and only brew­ery in Okla­homa to build from the ground up,” Hall said. He also helped city lead­ers under­stand what brew­eries are real­ly about. Although the city did have some expe­ri­ence work­ing with Marshall’s Brew­ing, also in Tul­sa, that brew­ery had been zoned indus­tri­al from the begin­ning. So Renais­sance Brew­ery and the City of Tul­sa became class­mates of sort of Build­ing a brew­ery 101.

After nine months of wait­ing on per­mits, the Halls began build­ing in Decem­ber of 2015. The con­struc­tion would take two years to com­plete. The colos­sal effort of build­ing as opposed to tak­ing a much eas­i­er job work­ing for an exist­ing brew­ery boils down to a sim­ple phi­los­o­phy; “I just like my own stuff,” he quipped. In actu­al­i­ty, he is one of those peo­ple who believe in invest­ing in his own ideas over those of oth­ers.

I had a real­ly good job in IT for 16 years with a good salary. I basi­cal­ly let that go to move back­ward,” he quipped. “I have been brew­ing since 1994 and so I have always loved the brew­ing aspect. I like the engi­neer­ing side of brew­ing and the equip­ment even more than the beer. I have want­ed to do it pro­fes­sion­al­ly for a long time. This has actu­al­ly been a 20-year plan or vision if you will.  When Hall com­plet­ed his appren­tice­ship in Munich, Ger­many, he knew it was time to fol­low the teach­ing of philoso­pher Pla­to who said, “He is a wise man who invent­ed beer”.  The time had come to become a real Renais­sance man and apply his new knowl­edge to the art of craft beer. In his efforts, he became the gen­er­al con­trac­tor for the con­struc­tion, along with han­dling many oth­er aspects of design­ing, financ­ing and build­ing a brew­ery from the ground up.

Hall explained that the brew­ery itself is debt free, leav­ing only the con­struc­tion loan and oper­a­tions costs. In essence, the cou­ple already has over 50 per­cent equi­ty in the enter­prise.  The brew­ery paid for itself with­in two months of its pub­lic open­ing on Jan­u­ary 11. In addi­tion, he and his wife are proud of the fact that they have made the neigh­bor­hood a bet­ter place and increased prop­er­ty val­ues by remov­ing decay­ing struc­tures and build­ing an asset with­in the com­mu­ni­ty.

The busi­ness is real­ly doing what we believed it could. Of course, we have to grow it more to get where we want to be. One of those future visions is com­plet­ing two bed and break­fast type apart­ments on the sec­ond floor where ‘beer trav­el­ers’ can stop in Tul­sa and spend a cou­ple of nights”.  The vision begin­ning to bring peo­ple into the brew­ery and allow them to expe­ri­ence some of the craft beers Renais­sance has to offer. They believe the idea of peo­ple being able to stay in a brew­ery and be exposed to the oper­a­tion will be very entic­ing to beer enthu­si­asts.

Our main focus is here at the brew­ery,” Hall said. He explained that it is not their intent to sat­u­rate the mar­ket and push the beer into the main­stream.  He and Sarah want to use the brew­ery as some­what of a social gath­er­ing. A place for tasters in the tap room, occa­sion­al beer din­ners where din­ers can try new beers and have meals pre­pared by chefs, have short order foods and even become a place to host events.

We are not going to beg and plead to get our taps every­where. We want those places that like our beer to car­ry us. We want to estab­lish rela­tion­ships with var­i­ous estab­lish­ments that we real­ly like and who like us,” Hall said. Renais­sance actu­al­ly got start­ed and was able to get into the whole­sale mar­ket by using its own equip­ment to brew at the Dead Armadil­lo brew­ery loca­tion. While there, they were able to get their four flag­ship beers per­fect­ed and avail­able to the whole­sale mar­ket.

Since the open­ing of the brew­ery, the main focus has been to get the tap­room open. Now that this is com­plet­ed and patrons are stop­ping by to try their beers, they have begun to work on brew­ing new ones. They pride them­selves on hav­ing a vari­ety of spe­cial­ty beers every week, along with their sea­son­al line-up for the year.  Every Wednes­day they release a new beer list which always sells out with­in that week.

We now have peo­ple show­ing up ear­ly in the week to try some of our new spe­cial­ty beers.” Thus far, the brew­ery has pro­duced 40 dif­fer­ent beers that are “proven recipes,” Hall said. The tap room is vital to the exper­i­men­ta­tion process, he explained. As they pro­duce these spe­cial­ty beers, the cus­tomer demands them allow them to see which ones are pop­u­lar and could even­tu­al­ly become flag­ship brews. Cur­rent­ly, there is Renais­sance Gold, Indi­an Wheat, Gam­ma Ray IPA and Black Gold as flag­ships.  Renais­sance Gold and Indi­an Wheat are light beers, Gam­ma Ray IPA is more of a hop­py beer and Black Gold is a dark beer.

We are sell­ing every­thing we can make right now,” Hall said.  This is with nine cur­rent part-time employs and a few tanks. Renais­sance has built in the capac­i­ty for sev­er­al more tank oper­a­tions, but Hall said that grow­ing slow­ly and using earned cash flow to move for­ward is much more of a pri­or­i­ty than quick expan­sion.

I am a Renais­sance man because I like to do so many of the things myself,” Hall said about his involve­ment with the day to day oper­a­tions of the brew­ery. Although he calls him­self own­er and brew­er, he is also the book­keep­er, jan­i­tor, recipe mak­er and pack­ager as well.  With his renais­sance men­tal­i­ty, and the neigh­bor­hood being known as the Renais­sance area, it seemed as though the name was meant to be.

Still 5,000 years lat­er that crisp and often bit­ter drink we call beer is still as pop­u­lar as it has been through the ages. Hall has now joined the ranks of many before him who have tak­en what nature pro­vides to quench a thirst that seems nev­er-end­ing. Although it is dis­put­ed that Ben Franklin ever said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be hap­py,” some­one cer­tain­ly said it. And who­ev­er it was, I bet that man was a Renais­sance man just like Glenn Hall.

The Renais­sance area is in the heart of Tul­sa’s his­toric mid­town, bor­der­ing streets are East 11th to 15th and from South Har­vard to Lewis with the brew­ery locat­ed at 1147 S Lewis Ave. Hours are Wednes­day-Fri­day from 4–9 pm, 12–9 pm on Sat­ur­day and 12–6 pm on Sun­day.  For more infor­ma­tion about their flag­ship beers, vis­it renaissancebeer.com. To try one of their spe­cial­ty beers, stop by and bel­ly up to the bar.

C.L. Harmon is a journalist and author of "In The Midst Of Reality". He has worked for several newspapers as a reporter and was the managing editor for a daily before publishing his own paper, The Mannford Reporter in Mannford, OKlahoma. In addition, he has worked as a freelance writer for various magazines writing feature stories on people and events.

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