Time was when every American city had indigenous beers and national brands were few and far between, but the unfortunate ascent of brands like Budweiser and Miller slowly choked the local beer to death in the Seventies and Eighties. Epitome of Sooner culture that it is, Tulsa hadn’t seen a new brewery open since the end of World War II when Marshall Brewing Company first made its presence felt in 2008 (not to be confused with an operation of the same name in Michigan). Worse, it happened to open its doors during the height of the Great Recession. It should have been doomed, but Marshall turned out to be on the vanguard of craft beer in Oklahoma, and that’s where it remains today. Within three years it took the original Red State from a brewmaster’s wasteland to a recognized outpost of authentic German beer culture, helped along by the fact that the brewery’s namesake actually managed to exploit a family connection between Oklahoma and a brewmaster in Munich.
Even for a microbrewery, Marshall is only really known for four beers: Sundown Wheat, which models itself after Bavarian witbier, an Indian Pale Ale called Atlas, brewed with hints of caramel, a British bitter known as McNellie’s, made with American Glacier hops, and their signature brand, the pilsner known as Old Pavilion, a North German-style pils which the brewmaster developed while actually working as an apprentice in that German brewery. But as usual with craft, it’s the seasonal which really get everyone excited. Their American porter known as Big Jamoke will steer you through those harsh plains winters, while Spring brings the six-malt Revival Red Ale, emblazoned with a 46 in honor of the 4th State. When you need something light for Summer, try the citrus notes of the Arrowhead Pale. Finally, what better way to usher in the fall than with the lager known simply as Oktoberfest? The true fan favorite, however, must be El Cucuy, an Indian Black Ale with hints of caramel whose 8.6 potency matches its name perfectly — in Hispanic countries, El Cucuy is an ancient ghost-creature who eats bad children, though it’s also known to make folks dizzy with fear.