By Scott Meacham
There is a real science to brewing beer, and there is real chemistry in the annual OKBio BrewFest returning to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark October 21 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
BrewFest showcases Oklahoma breweries, wineries and distilleries while boosting awareness of Oklahoma’s diverse bioscience industry represented by the Oklahoma Bioscience Association, the voice of Oklahoma’s dynamic and diverse bioscience and life science community.
I always appreciate the connections that strengthen the spectrum of innovation here in Oklahoma. OKBio connects the dots in a fun way from the laboratories of our state’s ground-breaking bioscience companies to the brewing and distilling entrepreneurs who, over the last decade, have created this exciting new industry in Oklahoma, where there wasn’t one before.
Connect the Dots
Blaine Stansel, co-founder Roughtail Brewery — one of the many breweries pouring at OKBio BrewFest, exemplifies that cross-ecosystem patterns of connections. i2E first got to know Blaine back in 2008 when, as a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma, his team placed first in the graduate division of the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup (now Entrepreneur’s Cup) collegiate business plan competition. (i2E has managed the statewide competition for 17 years.)
The team’s business plan was for a biotechnology company that simplified insulin treatment. After completing his MBA, Blaine went to work in finance for Charlesson, an early stage drug development company. An avid home brewer, he co-founded Roughtail a couple of years later.
“The Governor’s Cup experience was a big part of me being hired at Charlesson and in helping me start a business,” Blaine said. “Writing the business plan for the competition helped immensely when we sat down to write one for Roughtail. Luckily I had that experience, and I wasn’t afraid to start. How many businesses have failed before they even started because people got hung up on the business plan? Pitching to real investors during the Governor’s Cup helped me build Roughtail Brewery.”
Brewery, Tap Room
For Blaine and his co-founder Tony Tielli, “building” has most recently meant completing a 20,000 foot brewery and tap room from the ground up.
“We bought the land, built the building, and brought in the latest equipment,” said Blaine. “We have 24 taps and large glass windows for customers to see into the brewery.” The pandemic delayed the grand opening, and Roughtail is making up for that, plus celebrating two missed anniversaries with a big Oktoberfest on October 15-17 at its new location.
Writing a successful business plan isn’t the only skill Blaine took away from the Governor’s Cup. He learned just how critical market and customer validation is.
“Beer evolves and consumers’ tastes change rapidly,” he said. “Keeping up with the latest trends is really important. We have to be in tune with what consumers are asking for and drinking. We interface with customers all the time. We see what sells in the tap room. Right now we have a pickle beer that people really like, and that’s something that wasn’t on anyone’s radar a few years ago.”
There will be all sorts of innovative beers, wine, and spirits at OKBio BrewFest — including Roughtail’s pickle beer. Vendors will be spread throughout the open concourse. The priority is a healthy and safe event. It is a great opportunity for some Oklahoma camaraderie across all corners of our community. Advance tickets can be purchased at https://i2e.org/okbio/brewfest/ .
There is a real science to brewing beer.
Scott Meacham CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state support from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at [email protected].