Hop Jam brewers get a taste of Tulsa while showcasing their beers

By | May 18, 2015

Tulsa World

More beer. That’s what attendees wanted at The Hop Jam’s inaugural year last year.

And boy did they get it.

Brewers lined Main Street during the second The Hop Jam beer and music festival on Sunday, and they all came prepared.

The event, founded by pop stars and MMMhops brewers the Hanson brothers, was created to showcase music and craft beers, the Brady Arts District, and the city of Tulsa.

And it did that and more, drawing well-established brewers from around the world who had nothing but nice things to say about the city.

The list of brewers included 14 Oklahoma breweries, seven from elsewhere in the United States and nine international breweries.

Organizers and brewers learned a lot from Hop Jam’s first year about how to prepare for this beer-tasting event and free music festival, said Wes Alexander, director of sales and marketing for Marshall Brewing Co.

“The idea was to hold a free concert, but we don’t really know how many people are going to show up for a free concert. Well, you have a baseline now,” Alexander said. “Last year demand outstripped supply.

“This year everyone has the ideology of, ‘We are going to come with all the beer that we possibly can, and we are going to make sure that everyone gets taken care of and that is happening.’”

There were more brewers offering more beers, more vendors, more space for brewers to spread out, more volunteers to help the brewers and better access for the brewers to work, Alexander noted.

In addition to the local breweries represented at The Hop Jam, beer tasters were treated to many beers that they might not otherwise get to taste.

And the Hanson brothers served as ambassadors for the festival, meeting and networking with brewers all over the world and inviting them to come to their festival in Tulsa, including Stephan Michel, owner of Mahrs Bräu brewery in Bamberg, Germany.

The brewery was started in 1602 and purchased by the Michel family in 1895. Stephan Michel represents the fourth generation of the family at the brewery.

Michel met Taylor Hanson at a beer festival in California last year.

“It was kind of funny because I did not know who he was. But I saw that every five minutes somebody asked him, ‘Can we do a picture?’ So I was like, who is this guy?

“So I walked up to him and said, ‘Hey, Taylor, is your beer so famous already that everybody wants to take a picture? Nobody is coming to me and asking me for a picture.’”

Taylor Hanson explained that he and his brothers launched pop music careers in the early ’90s, and that was why his photo was in such high demand.

“And we became friends. We have the same spirit,” Michel said.

Michel said he has been impressed with Tulsa during his time here for the festival and he plans to come back and collaborate with the Hanson brothers on beers in the future.

“This city is pretty cool. I like the old brick buildings,” Michel said. “I like the style, and the people are very cool here, very open, very friendly. I will come back for sure.”

Ben Middlemiss of New Zealand’s Ben Middlemiss Brewing shared Michel’s sentiments about the host city for The Hop Jam.

Middlemiss met the Hanson brothers when they did a concert in New Zealand. He showed the brothers around and shared his beer with them.

“They liked my beer so much they said ‘We need to have you come to Tulsa,’” Middlemiss said.

While here, Middlemiss toured the Prairie Artisan Ales brewery and was impressed by the Woody Guthrie Center. Tulsa feels very much like home to him.

“I told my lady in New Zealand, ‘You would love here. It is just like home.’ The people are friendly and you feel safe and comfortable walking around during the day or night. Some cities in America, I am not so sure about. You feel nervous, just a little apprehensive.

“But here, it is just like home.”

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