The armadillo is an animal closely associated with the American Southwest, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that a brewery in Oklahoma seized upon the animal for its name. So when Mason Beecroft and Tony Peck started a commercial brewery production, Dead Armadillo Craft Brewing was born. In 2016, the brewery opened its own taproom in an industrial area of town.
Like most craft breweries, Dead Armadillo celebrates the unique tastes it brings to beer drinkers. Customers see this irreverent humor on the door before walking into the taproom.
The taproom used to be home to Fourth Street Auto Repair, which was ideal for a brewery because it provides plenty of space to install the brewing equipment. However, it meant the taproom was smaller. The bar is immediately to the left upon entering with a small seating area to the right.
The bar seats about a dozen people while the seating area, which features high top tables, seats about nine people. Even the glass behind the bar pays homage to the building’s former occupant with “Fourth Street Auto” stenciled above the brewery’s logo.
The brewery offers flights, so my wife Katie and I took advantage and ordered two different flights. She ordered the Berliner Weisse flight, which featured a selection of Berliner Weisse beers mixed with a variety of simple syrup flavors. On my flight, I ordered the Amber (an American amber), Inland Porter (an American porter brewed in collaboration with Hanson Brothers Beer), IPA with Pineapple, and Renaissance Black Gold (an American stout). The Amber is a bit hoppy in the traditional American style, and is one of the brewery’s flagship beers. The Berliner Weisse and Inland Porter were my two favorite beers.
Perhaps the coolest aspect of the taproom was the tire tread on the bar counter. It runs across the entire bar except where a metallic version of the brewery’s logo sits in the middle of the counter.
I visited the taproom during a midweek holiday, so despite it being a Thursday and the brewery offering special one-off beers through their Randall. However, the crowd appeared to consist of some regulars and a few newcomers trying the brewery’s beer with a flight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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…
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.