Matt Conner, his wife Beth, and his business partner, Jeremy Estle, are the brains behind Frenzy Brewing, Edmond’s first brewery. As Matt spoke about the new endeavor, Jeremy was wearing galoshes and cleaning out stainless steel tanks for the next run of beer.
“We’re just glorified janitors, honestly,” Matt said, laughing.
These brewers are staying busy. Beer requires an incredibly clean and sterile environment to brew correctly, and the tanks are running constantly right now. Frenzy Brewing is just one of the many breweries and taprooms that have popped up over the metro in the last several years. But it’s the first in downtown Edmond. And, the demand has been huge.
Frenzy Brewing: Filling a need
Even though they’ve been brewing since they started using the equipment, it’s been quite a ride to keep up with the demand. The proof is in the beer.
“We were in distribution with a really small footprint,” said Matt. “We got our first run and said ‘Great! We have beer for distribution!’ And then we sold 20 cases wholesale and realized we couldn’t run out of beer, because we only had 240 cases. So we pulled our product from distro. We’re almost out of canned beer. We’ve sold 130, 140 cases of beer from the cold box already.”
This was midway through June, not even a week after they’d been open.
Every one of the beers they have on tap is solid, and they pride themselves on having a lot of approachable styles. They’re not afraid of doing more experimental beers, but their bread and butter is the kind of brew just about anyone can enjoy. Their selection has something for everyone, from peach witbier to Irish dry stout to hazy IPA.
A history with brewing
Matt, Beth, and Jeremy don’t come from a brewery background. In fact, up until they started their own company, they hadn’t worked in a brewery at all. They were homebrewers.
Jeremy learned the craft of brewing in college from his friend’s father, who had picked it up while stationed in Germany.
“Information was pretty slim back in those pre-Internet days,” he said. “It was pretty rudimentary. All you had was an extract, and you reconstituted that and boiled it, cooled it down, added hops and yeast to it, and you have beer. You didn’t know temperature control, different varieties of yeast . . . you didn’t know all that stuff. Then you start learning a little more about it and the beer starts improving.”
Matt came to brewing through his father—though only after he was older.
“My dad was a homebrewer,” he said. “I never tried it. It was just a weird thing he did.”
At the time they were living in northern California, and the craft beer scene was already bustling. But when they moved to Oklahoma, there wasn’t much. “We got into the craft beer scene in the late ’90s,” he said. “My dad had retired, and it was a good way to spend time with him.”
Beth got into brewing through Matt.
“She was helping on brew days, and then she started to come up with the ideas and the names,” Matt said. “I used to fight her on that until I realized she was right.”
Starting a partnership
Matt and Beth began submitting beer to competitions, experimenting with styles and getting serious about the local homebrewing club. Soon enough people started saying they should start a brewery, and they decided to go after it. But the two of them weren’t enough.
“We needed some outside help,” said Beth.
Matt agreed, and luckily for him, he knew someone who could help.
“Jeremy just kind of fell in my lap,” he said.
Matt and Jeremy knew each other from the homebrewing club, and both were thinking about starting a brewery. They had a long meeting one night and decided to go into business together. Although Matt is the head brewer, both men insist that the brewing is a partnership.
“There’s a wealth of knowledge between the two of us,” Jeremy said. “We bounce so much off each other here.” But there’s a reason Matt is the head. As both note, Matt is intense, laser-focused and detail-oriented. He’s constantly planning. Jeremy is much more laid back. They counterbalance each other when it comes to the brewery’s approach to beer.
That’s the thing that stands out when you look at the board: how collaborative of an effort this is. Matt and Jeremy can look at every beer and tell you whose is whose, and Beth’s names and ideas have left a strong imprint.
Opening a brewery
Frenzy’s space is set up in a building that was originally a garage back in the early 20th century. The taproom is a huge brick, pallet wood, and steel space. It feels surprisingly airy. A set of huge blue double doors leads to the brewery equipment and kegs in the back.
Because of the way the building is set up, Frenzy had to build a unique keg setup that pumps beer from the far side of the room across the building. Most brewpubs and bars have their kegs very close to the taps.
They spent some time hunting for spaces even outside of Edmond, but kept coming back to this downtown Edmond spot. All three are longtime Edmond residents and tied in to the community. There was no brewery with a taproom to compete. It was a natural fit.
When it came to the beer, though, they had to learn how to run on bigger equipment. Frenzy as a brand started before they actually had the brewery space up and running because they had some support from another brewery. Matt and Jeremy were able to produce beer “under license” from Angry Scotsman; but in reality, they were there on site learning the ins and outs of the process.
“We were over at Angry Scotsman, and on paper we were paying them to brew our beer for us,” said Jeremy. “But we know those guys really well so we were involved. It was like going to school, and after that, we hit the ground here and said ‘We know exactly how to brew. We know how this works.’ You can’t put a price tag on the education we got there.”
“The canning guys said it was the best first canning run of any brewery they’d ever done,” Matt said.
They’ve needed every bit of the training they got. Frenzy’s first run of beer is getting low, and they’ve been constantly brewing to try to keep their stock up. Demand has been high, especially as people begin to realize there’s a brewery to visit right in the heart of downtown Edmond. It’s early days, but if the first week is anything to go by, Frenzy looks like it’s here to stay.
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About David Brandon
David Brandon is a longtime Edmond resident who loves exploring new places around his hometown. He’s a freelance copywriter and devotee of the written word, spending many of his off hours reading and writing. He’s also an amateur musician and loves both listening to and creating music. A diehard Oklahoma City Thunder and general basketball fan, David blogs for Daily Thunder about the NBA salary cap and other basketball news. Catch him on Twitter for NBA thoughts.