Thursday, May 31, 2007

Beer Hunting: Arkansas and Tulsa

5/26 -5/29, 2007

I knew I wouldn't have a lot of time for beer hunting on this trip since I was travelling from Atlanta all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma with my young children in tow. The events planned around this family reunion were going to take up most of the free time I would have while in town and, let's face it, being the primary caregiver for a 5 and 1 year old for a long weekend isn't the most conducive situation for beer hunting anyway. However, I had a plan, knew what I wanted and had a fair idea of where to find it.

Passing through Arkansas, I knew there were a few decent stores in Fort Smith and using Beer Advocate's great BeerFly directory, I narrowed my visit down to Empire Liquors as it had a nice selection and, almost as important, was located right off the interstate which meant it would be a quick and easy stop.

On previous visits I had seen beers from New Belgium and that was my target for the Arkansas stop. I was looking for La Folie first (hopeful for this being stocked but knew it was not likely), Loft second and after that any New Belgium beer that struck my fancy. There was no La Folie and I couldn't find Loft either. (Since the trip I have seen that Loft is no longer on their website so it may be discontinued or perhaps renamed. I e-mailed the brewery to check.) It's getting hot in Atlanta these days so New Belgium's Sunshine Wheat looked pretty good to me. I grabbed a sixer and Breckinridge's Oatmeal Stout caught my eye. I love a good oatmeal stout so I decided to give that one a whirl too. So in less than five minutes, I had my two sixers of Colorado beer and got back on the interstate.

The day I was leaving Tulsa I stopped off at the Country Hollow Liquor Store to see what might be distributed in Oklahoma that I can't get back home. Country Hollow was said to have the best selection in town in one BeerFly entry and was right on my way out of town. I stopped in and started browsing, 5 year old in tow and 1 year old in my arms. A gentleman working there asked if I needed something and I said, "No thanks, just browsing." It was then that he informed me that children weren't allowed in liquor stores in Oklahoma! I asked if he was kidding and he said he wasn't and that it was state law. (I was aware that Oklahoma was a 3.2 state, meaning that if you wanted beer with the full alcohol content you would have to go to a liquor store to get it but not this particular law.) I replied that OK, I would go when he offered me the option of letting my oldest wait by the door (for some reason, if the kid is in your arms, like my youngest was, it's OK). Since the end of the beer aisle was by the door, I said OK and did a quick scan of the row. Atwater Block from Detroit had a dunkel and since I don't see a lot of dunkels, I grabbed it. I wish I could tell you how the selection was but I didn't want to leave my kid by himself! (As an aside, liquor stores in OK aren't allowed to sell ice either. Crazy laws...)

So on this trip I definitely learned I need to leave the kids with Grandma if I want to grab a sixpack in OK! I also learned that buying beer is a lot easier in Arkansas and finally that when your 1 year old is sleeping, you don't care enough about beer hunting in Memphis to wake her up!

Posts on these beer to follow.

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