From Hobby To Business: Tulsa's Craft Beer Boom

The craft beer trend started to gain traction in the 1990s, catching on because of its emphasis on unique flavors and independent ownership.

Wednesday, September 6th 2023, 10:49 pm



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Fall is a popular time for craft brewers and beer tours. Over the past few years, more breweries have popped up all over Tulsa.

The craft beer trend started to gain traction in the 1990s, catching on because of its emphasis on unique flavors and independent ownership.

Dave Knott and his wife Desiree began experimenting with their craft beer hobby in the 1980s.

"If you got introduced to craft beer, beer styles from around the world, making your own made more sense," said Dave.

Usually, beer is a simple combination of water, grains, hops, and yeast, but Dave and Desiree started working to perfect their recipes and give them unique flavors and colors.

"We have about 50 different types of grain we can play with," said Dave.

After growing tired of their IT jobs, the couple turned their passion into a business, starting High Gravity Fermentations in Tulsa in 2004. It's a place where both amateur and experienced home beer and wine brewers can learn and get supplies.

"The community built up over the years," said Dave.

Some of their customers have even started their own businesses.

"In the city of Tulsa, like all of them basically started here," said Desiree. "We kind of joke that we're the godparents of all of the breweries."

Since opening, the Knotts have introduced hundreds of others to the hobby. Hosting introductory brewing classes on weekends and being a part of the Oklahoma Craft Brewers Association. That networking has helped more than 15 breweries in the Tulsa area get started, with even more planning to open in the next few years.

"It's been very gratifying being such an influence on the brewing industry," said Desiree.

The growth of breweries can also be credited to a 2018 law change in Oklahoma that allowed breweries to sell their beers on-site in tap rooms. Previously, brewers had to buy their beer back and were only allowed to sell beer with 3.2 percent alcohol by weight.

Under the new regulations, the Knotts opened a taproom next to the store and now sell their own beers under the brand High Gravity Brewing Company. The tap room is just one of many people go to every fall in something known as brewery hopping.

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