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Brewing up a Good Time

Now that they’ve established themselves as a delicious, desirable Tulsa beer and a fun taproom destination, Welltown Brewing is focused on creating a community vibe that people want to be a part of.

Article
John Tranchina
Photos
Sarah Eliza Roberts
Posted
July 28, 2019

First came the beer, then came the big decision: Do we focus our energies on distributing the beer or do we open a venue to serve it in?

For Jeremy Diamond, the owner and operator of Welltown Brewing, the answer was an extension of his engaging and outgoing personality — of course, to open their place and bring the customers to them.

So several years after partner and brewmaster Jordan O’Dell created the beer in his garage, and following a host of obstacles with securing a suitable facility, Welltown Brewing finally opened its taproom in June 2018 in the Tulsa Arts District in downtown Tulsa.

Because they don’t serve any hard alcohol such as vodka or whiskey, Welltown Brewing is allowed to welcome minors into the establishment. (That’s also why it’s called a “taproom” and not a “bar.”) (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
Because they don’t serve any hard alcohol such as vodka or whiskey, Welltown Brewing is allowed to welcome minors into the establishment. (That’s also why it’s called a “taproom” and not a “bar.”) (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

“It’s been a journey,” Diamond says. “This was not our first [attempted] location; this was our third. When we went through the steps of finding a location, my big thing was knowing we wanted to go all-in on the taproom, and a location that facilitated that. So downtown made sense. We had looked at other locations, then we saw this one, fell in love with it, and pulled the trigger. We have about 12,000 square feet, including a big rooftop patio upstairs, and 4,000 square feet is our brewery in the back.”

Diamond acknowledged that starting with opening a big space when no one knows your beer could be taking a big chance, but the bold strategy has worked out well so far. They have booked 10 weddings for 2020 and occasionally host fundraising events for local nonprofit organizations such as the Food Bank and Gaining Ground, a group that promotes teaching young kids to read.

“We went big right off the bat,” Diamond says. “Very risky to do that. We were going all-in on the taproom. It turns out that people love the space and it’s turned into a venue as well as a taproom. People not only want to drink beer in a cool location, but they also want to have their parties, whether it’s corporate or a reception, and want to have their get-together here as well.”

And now that they’ve established themselves as a delicious, desirable Tulsa beer and a fun destination, Welltown Brewing is also beginning to can their beer and distribute it to stores and restaurants to sell as well, further validating Diamond’s original vision to put his energies into creating a unique Welltown environment that fits the beer.

The taproom is a fun, vibrant place that is kid-friendly and even dog-friendly, with a rooftop patio and first-floor garage doors that open up to the sidewalk during beautiful weather. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)
The taproom is a fun, vibrant place that is kid-friendly and even dog-friendly, with a rooftop patio and first-floor garage doors that open up to the sidewalk during beautiful weather. (Photo: Sarah Eliza Roberts)

“In the world of brewing, there’s a lot of different business models you can go after,” Diamond says. “It’s just more or less a personality thing. There’s a lot of other breweries in town that like the aspect of being more hands-off. ‘I’m going to create a good product and just send it out and have other people enjoy it.’ I’m a little more outgoing, I’m a little more out there, so I enjoy the camaraderie of others and bringing other people in, whether it’s my friends, whether it’s my family or new people that I’ve never met before. I love people. So it was very natural for me to choose taproom over distro. That being said, we’re now getting involved with distribution, but our focus is still bringing people back here.

“One of the biggest things that we wanted to do was create a space [where] people can come in and enjoy beer. A lot of people might go after the model of big distribution, to be in every bar, every restaurant, and there’s some in town that already do that, and that’s great. But our focus was to create a community, to create a vibe here that people want to be a part of.”

The taproom is a fun, vibrant place that is kid-friendly and even dog-friendly, with a rooftop patio and first-floor garage doors that open up to the sidewalk during beautiful weather. Because they don’t serve any hard alcohol such as vodka or whiskey, Welltown Brewing is allowed to welcome minors into the establishment. (That’s also why it’s called a “taproom” and not a “bar.”) That distinction alters the atmosphere in a way that makes it less aggressive and gives it a more inclusive, calmer vibe.

“We’re allowed to bring under-agers into this facility, whereas bars you can’t,” Diamond says. “It all depends on beer versus distilled spirits. We have beer, wine, and cider; we do not have hard alcohol. Anything distilled, we can’t have it here. It differentiates us — more family-friendly than most other places. A lot of people will bring in kids, want to sit down on a nice Saturday; we’ll throw open the garage doors and have a lot of fun. I would say that’s the big-time differentiator.”

Another early decision that has proven to be an essential advantage for the company is reflected in the distinctive and straightforward labeling on the beer. The Welltown Brewing logo works well and stands in nice contrast to a lot of the busy and loud labels utilized by several other local beers.

“[Our] straightforward design plays back to early Tulsa, the oil capital of the world days,” Diamond says. “We wanted to give back to the community. We wanted to be true to our roots in a brand, in a look, in a logo that spoke to the city as well as spoke to the community that we want to form.

“We wanted to completely go against the grain, because a lot of people go with the crazy, go with the over-the-top, which is fine, but for me. I wanted something very distinct, super simple as well, where you could pull away from the name and see the logo and know that, ‘Oh, that’s a Welltown beer.’”

The logo was designed by Jordan Winn, a former teammate of Diamond’s from the NOAH (local home-schooled high school students) basketball team, who is also the graphic designer who created the iconic Tulsa flag. In addition to their beers’ taste, the label as much as anything else is a crucial component of separating Welltown from all the other options out there.

“He’s kind of the original guy who helped us in the beginning and saw the vision before it was something,” Diamond says of Winn. “About three and a half, four years ago, he started helping me and working on a look, a feel, and a brand. To me, that speaks volumes about the company before anything else does, so I wanted to establish that before anything else.”

LOCATOR
Welltown Brewing
114 W. Archer St. | Tulsa
918-221-8893
welltownbrewing.com
Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Thursday: 4-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: Noon-1 a.m.
Sunday: 2-8 p.m.

August 2019 Cover