The award-winning product of Prairie Artisan Ales is available around the world, but until recently, fans had to go to its Tulsa brewpub or production facility in Krebs to get a taste of its new beer.
Prairie Artisan Ales opened its first Oklahoma City taproom Nov. 15 at 3 NE Eighth St., becoming the first business to open in the 8th Street Market building, which operators envision as a market hall retail concept patterned after successful models in Denver and New York.
The taproom has 16 total taps and currently features 10 beers, about six of which have never seen wide distribution. For instance, the taproom opened with Cinnamon Pecan Bomb!, a seasonal variety of its Bomb!, which has a sterling score of 99 out of 100 on Beer Advocate.
Previously, Cinnamon Pecan Bomb! had only been unveiled for a party at its Krebs facility.
“Unless you were one of the few hundred people there that day, you haven’t seen it before,” Greg Powell, the taproom’s manager, said. “Everyone down there loved it, and it’s been a huge hit for us here too.”
Market Hall concept
The November opening was the culmination of a 16-month process to open in the former storage facility warehouse, which was purchased by developers Patrick Murnan, Brandon Lodge and Cale Coulter in early 2016 for $1.2 million, according to The Oklahoman.
“We bought the building because we believed in the area and really liked what Oklahoma City was doing in the urban core, but at first, we really didn’t have a plan for the premise,” Murnan said in an interview with Oklahoma Gazette.
He said they knew the market wanted a retail space in the burgeoning Automobile Alley neighborhood but the building’s dimensions didn’t exactly lend itself to a traditional retail model. That’s when a friend suggested the group tour Denver’s The Source and New York City’s Chelsea Market, where retail, restaurant and office space co-mingle in an open-air setting.
“We were skeptical because Oklahoma City didn’t have anything like this,” Murnan said. “We went to The Source in Denver and loved it. It helped sell us on the idea of a market hall.”
The building’s renovation, which finished in July, installed roll-up doors and large windows, which bring natural light into a central pedestrian corridor. It also added a second-floor mezzanine, which Murnan said could be perfect for coffee shops or other food space.
The group recently secured a deal with Key Construction, a Kansas company, to house its Oklahoma City offices in the market. Key has been active in the metro area, building Warren Theatre in Moore, among other projects.
Murnan said 8th Street Market will focus on either local companies or those that do a lot of business in Oklahoma.
“Sears will never come in here,” he said.
With Prairie Artisan Ales in place, Murnan said he wants the taproom’s funky and fun design, which features pink fluorescent lights and artwork from Prairie’s co-founder Colin Healey, to anchor a wider aesthetic for the hall.
“I think being the first business on this end of the street is pretty cool,” Powell said. “We’ve seen it in Oklahoma City for the last 20 years. The first person that goes in on a street, and the next thing that you know, the street is full of development.”
Prairie installed six fermenters and seven bright tanks for brewmasters Reed Jaskula and Kevin Kristek, who relocated from Ohio for the project, to work.
“The fun aspect of this place is that we have freedom to experiment and try new styles that wouldn’t be available in the standard portfolio,” Jaskula said. “We’re proud and excited to be part of the movement in this area. We’re pulling out all the stops.”
The taproom is currently open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. seven days a week. Powell said that will likely expand when the new alcohol law takes effect in 2018 and when the market hall adds other businesses that complement the taproom, which doesn’t serve food.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to stay open until 2 a.m., but it would be nice to have the option,” Powell said.
Brothers Chase and Colin Healey founded prairie Artisan Ales in Tulsa. Krebs Brewing Co., brewers of Choc beer, purchased Prairie in 2016. Krebs Brewing Co. President Zach Prichard has overseen an expansion of the brand, which has a worldwide reach.
International sales account for 5 percent of Prairie’s profits, and Prichard has overseen the opening of a brewpub in Tulsa, the taproom in Oklahoma City and the construction of a new brewery in Krebs, according to Tulsa World.
Print headline: Taproom trendsetters; Prairie Artisan Ales expands into Oklahoma City as it becomes the first tenant to open in 8th Street Market.