August 2020: When it comes to brewing, timing is everything. Knowing when to add the carefully selected ingredients, how long to let the product ferment, and when to add the hops can make all the difference between a bad beer, a good beer and a great beer.
Just as important as it is in brewing, so is timing in the opening of a new business – something which Emersumnice Brewery owners Donnie Eldridge and his wife Jennifer, found out firsthand.
“We opened up in March of this year – probably not the best timing (at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic), but even so, customers found us, and we’ve been doing fairly well, considering – I think we’re seeing about 50 percent of what we should be seeing, but I think that as things return to normal, our numbers will pick up.”
Located in the Mowery Building on Main Street in Owasso, Emersumnice Brewery is Owasso’s first on-site microbrewery and pub, offering patrons a variety of menu items and original brews, with something for the casual and serious adult beverage aficionados.
Even the name– Emersumnice – is a play on words, Eldridge said, as it’s pronounced to sound like “’Em are some nice (beers).”
“We could have easily been the Owasso Brewery, but the name is a conversation piece, a curiosity,” he said.
Former Tulsa native Eldridge joined the Oklahoma Army National Guard at age 17 when he was still in high school. After graduating, he made a career out of the military, serving for more than 30 years, as well as being a full-time employee of the Army National Guard for 27.
“About 15 years ago, brewing was kind of a hobby for me, like it is for a lot of people, but as I’m in the military, I’m a real stickler for details – always taking notes, always trying to make things better,” he said. “So, each time I deployed to Iraq, I would come back with a bigger brewery system. In 2010 I was deployed to Iraq and roomed with Frank Montgomery, the other brewer here at Emersumnice.”
“We started out basically like every other home brewer starts out, with a turkey fryer in the garage. That deployment we both built a 20-gallon three-vessel system that’s digitally operated,” he said. “ Jump forward to 2017, I lost some friends and thought to myself it was time for a change.”
“One of the guys I was stationed with was another entrepreneur, and he suggested I just open my own brewery,” he said. “After that, I sat down and over the next couple of weeks, came up with a business plan, and almost two years to the day later, we opened up.”
“Although some of the technology has changed over the years, the basic beer-making process has remained the same since Egyptian times,” Eldridge said.
“What we do is take all kinds of different grains and add them to a recipe as we’re ‘mashing’ those grains, which is basically adding water to it, heating those grains to a certain temperature,” he said. “We extract the starches from those grains and convert them into sugar. Once it goes through that process, which takes about an hour, we move it to our boil kettle, and then it’s known as ‘wort.’ While it’s in the boil kettle, we boil it, sanitize it, and reduce the amount of water, making it a higher concentration of sugar water.”
“At that point, we add hops to it, which counteracts the sweetness of the wort – we can also use hops for flavor and aroma,” he said. “We’ll boil it for anywhere from 60-90 minutes, depending on the recipe, after which, we cool it down to about 65 degrees, put it in one of our fermenters, where it will sit for roughly two weeks. During those two weeks, we’ll add yeast to it – start to finish, it’s about two and a half weeks to make a batch.”
Emersumnice offers eight different original beers on tap for the most discriminating beer connoisseurs.
“All the beer recipes are my own – they’re recipes that I’ve worked with Frank to develop,” he said. “Of these, one of our customer favorites is the Blonde Moment Ale, which is a cream ale and a great beginner beer that’s light-bodied with a full flavor, citrus notes, and a smooth finish.
“Another favorite is our Ram’s Head Wheat, which is an American Hefeweizen (German-style beer) that’s a refreshing wheat beer with a clean character that allows a bready dough and graining wheat flavor with banana esters to be complemented by its smooth hop flavor,” he said. “And of course, Hopback Mountain, which is a red ale that’s a moderate-strength American craft beer with a caramel malty flavor.”
As much as Emersumnice is a brewery, it also boasts delectable menu items from appetizers to salads, lunch specials, and more.
“When people come in here, I like to think of it as a date night at a brew-pub for them,” Eldridge said. “We have pizzas, hamburgers, sandwiches, but also sophisticated items – a Caprese salad, a tomahawk pork chop, Cajun pasta – there’s a little bit of everything, and I should mention we have our own woodfire oven. You’ve never had a pizza until you’ve had it baked in a woodfire oven, and sometimes, we’ll even cook other menu items but finish them in the (woodfire) oven so they can get that unique quality to them.”
As Owasso’s only working brewery, Emersumnice offers a one-of-a-kind experience for patrons, with “something for everyone,” Eldridge says.
“Mom and dad can bring the kids in here, watch something on TV, have a meal – there’s something here for people of all ages to eat, and they can feel like they’re at any other restaurant in town, with a brewery atmosphere,” he said. “Having said that, we also have an upstairs area that’s for people 21 and over, where we regularly host musicians playing acoustic music, and where adults can get away from the kids, enjoy the view and have a really cool place to just hang out.”
Acoustic music is played 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 8-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Other nightly events include Brewery Bingo on Mondays, Cornhole League on Tuesdays, Bike Night on Wednesdays, with live music. Plans are currently being made to introduce Trivia Night on Thursdays.
Emersumnice Brewery is located at 102 S. Main Street (suite E) in Owasso. For more information, contact Donnie at the brewery at 918-330-3973.
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