UKB to open brewery in September

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Giduwa Cherokee News
07/02/2019 04:45 PM
Reprinted with permission
Main Cherokee Phoenix
An artist’s rendering shows the outside of the United Keetoowah Band’s The River Brewhouse, a 6,200-square-foot building that will become the largest brewery in Oklahoma. It will feature four signature beers: an amber, a pilsner, an India Pale Ale and a lager or ale. Sports betting will also be offered courtesy of Bet4 Technologies, according to the UKB Corporate Board. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Custom brews, good food and sports betting will come together under one roof when the United Keetoowah Band’s Corporate Board officially opens The River Brewhouse in September.

“The administration building next to the old Keetoowah Casino and the whole area is going to be transformed by it. It’s going to be the biggest brewery in the state of Oklahoma,” Randall Hendricks, UKB Corporate Board director, said.

The building will measure about 6,200-square-feet with a maximum occupancy of 265 people. It will boast a rustic look and a ground floor and mezzanine area for sports betting and entertainment purposes.

“We’re excited right now,” he said. “We knew the location was excellent, and we’ve been wanting to do something with it for a long time. We asked ourselves, ‘what does Tahlequah not have right now?’ We did our research and we found that in Tulsa, brewhouses are becoming very popular. I see a lot of that happening in northwest Arkansas, too. There’s nothing here for this market. All of these things are happening around us and we think with the college population here, it will fill a void.”

The River Brewhouse has partnered with Broken Arrow Brewery for the endeavor. “We interviewed three different breweries and settled on Broken Arrow Brewery because they were willing to work with us and partner with us, versus just selling us equipment. They were really interested in teaching us and making sure we could be capable of running it,” said Hendricks.

For Phase I, The River Brewhouse will offer four custom beers: an amber, a pilsner, an India Pale Ale and a lager or ale, Hendricks said.

“There’s going to be four different types, so there’s something for everyone,” he said. “They’re going to develop our signature brews. They’re going to show us how to make it and maintain it. After we hit Phase II and we’re up and running and profitable, we’re going to hook our tanks up and start our training process. We’ll slowly phase out the Broken Arrow Brewery logo and they’re going to transition us into making our own and being our own brand.”

Demolition on the old UKB administration building near Walmart began April 11. “When we did the demo on the interior walls and got to the ceiling, we took the ceiling tiles off and they were vaulted ceilings. They had a rustic wood look with exposed beams. That just inspired us to maintain that look for the rest of the building,” said Hendricks. “It’s going to be exposed pinewood, which we are actually milling and harvesting from a pecan orchard that we have property of. It’s going to be a contemporary brewery.”

The River Brewhouse will also have smaller food items that were once offered at the Keetoowah Casino such as hamburgers, fries, hot dogs and nachos.

Amid the food and drinks, sports betting will take place on screens scattered throughout the building, including on the biggest screen in the state, Hendricks said.

“We’re going to have the biggest screen in the state of Oklahoma. I believe it’s an 18 (feet) by 32 (feet),” he said. “We’re going to have big screens everywhere and Bet4 Technologies is bringing in their software. There’s going to be centrally located kiosks at the tables to utilize to place bets. You could even do sports betting on your mobile device if you wanted to.”

The River Brewhouse had a projected opening date of July 4 but had to be pushed to Sept. 4. “With every major build like this comes unforeseen circumstances and things happening that you just can’t plan for,” Hendricks said. “However, we are doing our best to manage and mitigate those delays and we’re working as fast as possible to get the brewpub open. Our plumbers and electricians for the brewpub have to come together with the brewery company to make sure all of the equipment that ties in can coordinate and be placed accordingly, so we have to get all of our groups together.”

He said the facility would become an event destination. “Tahlequah is a college town...I went to school here and I think that there are some things that are missing for the young adults and college-age students to do. This is something that will provide a source of entertainment that isn’t already here.”

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