A lot can happen in three years. We built a new skyscraper for someone named Cimarex. Mayor Dewey Bartlett continued to Bartlett—and Ted Cruz flexed, in early voting. The band Hanson put out an Mmmhops beer! And while some at the time may have surely only seen it as a gimmick, three years on we can see that the Hanson Brothers’ foray into Oklahoma brewing is proving to be anything but a lark.
We spoke to Taylor Hanson, head coordinator and founder of the Tulsa Hop Jam, as he prepares to make this year’s one-day event the biggest Tulsa has seen yet.
For the third year in a row, the Hop Jam Beer and Music Festival is slated to ease us into summer with a day of good brews, good bands and general merriment. And this year is poised to set a new international standard for future jams to come.
After drawing 30,000 guests to downtown Tulsa for the inaugural event in 2013, the good shows and good word-of-mouth helped to increase attendance by over 30% the next year. There are no signs that this trend will slow down.
“Hop Jam is a community event. I mean, it really is,” says Taylor Hanson, humanitarian and musical polymath, in addition to event coordinator. He speaks to his enthusiasm by referring to the intersection of the emerging art scenes and craft beer scenes that he says are “growing, and beginning to really thrive here in Tulsa.”
“Clearly,” he continues, “there’s a whole group of Tulsans, young people, who are trying to build a different and cooler Tulsa.”
But it’s not simply the millennial wave that’s driving the movement, standing to gain. He also speaks of older lifelong Tulsans, people who have been here that are wanting to see more live events, cool music, and have the kinds of cultural things to be proud of that make people want to build a business here, or keep their business here.
Hanson, a lifelong rock musician of the good-time-jams ethos, says that what makes the festival he founded so unique is the way it’s created organically through a mixture of music connections—which the band has in spades—and international beer connections, relationships that have been cultivated over the last few years since the brothers’ first foray into craft brewing in 2013. It is, according to Hanson, “part of what is unique about this beer festival.”
“We’re trying to leverage our relationships,” Taylor says, speaking about how the people he’s met through both artistic and beer-based ventures have broadened his personal Rolodex. Consider it a sneak attack, consider it shrewd business practice, but there has been developed a list of names he’s using, he says, in a wholesome effort “to encourage people to come to Oklahoma for the first time.”
He brings up one example in particular, the Shelton Brothers, with whom the Hanson family partnered for their first foray in creating Mmmhops. This, says Hanson, was a valuable contact to cultivate.
“Shelton Brothers are renowned for their curating of rare, sought-after beers, mostly from outside of the US,” he says. “So we work with them and our local distributors and brokers in Oklahoma to say, hey, let’s bring this beer from Germany, from Italy, from Japan, from California, from Illinois—[brewers that are] not currently looking in Oklahoma. And let’s encourage them to bring it to Oklahoma for the first time as a part of this festival.”
It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve scored a coup. Last year, the bigand-getting-bigger California craft brewery Lagunitas made their debut in Oklahoma at the Hop Jam, to the thrill of many thirsty revelers and beer nerds, this writer included.
The Hop Jam intends to announce its lineup officially on March 14th. Visit TheHopJam.com and, as always, stay in touch with us at EdibleTulsa.com for the up-to-date essential news about the essential brews to be featured at this third Hop Jam, May 22, 2016.