When I was a kid in Springdale my family would sometimes take weekend road trips to Tulsa to find things to do. Back then there wasn’t a four-lane highway connecting us to Oklahoma’s second-biggest city. Driving old Highway 68 was the only way to get there, and it seemed to take forever. But all that windshield time was worth it. Our first stop when arriving in Tulsa was always Casa Bonita – the greatest Mexican “eatertainment” restaurant of all time (at least it was in my 8-year-old mind). If you’re not familiar with the concept think mariachis, 20-foot waterfalls, and endless sopapillas with honey. Casa Bonita was such a spectacle that it was once the subject of an episode of South Park. (The restaurant has a presence in Colorado, too. Here’s a clip from the show.)
Tulsa got a lot closer when the Cherokee Turnpike opened in 1991. An easy 90-minute drive is all you can expect now. Sadly, Casa Bonita is no longer an option (it closed a few years ago), but Tulsa has other things going for it now. One such thing is a brewing industry that is reigniting after several years of dormancy.
Marshall Brewing Company opened its doors in 2008 and is not only a player in its hometown of Tulsa, but also here in Northwest Arkansas. It can be found on taps and shelves everywhere – just look and you’ll see!
Much of the brewery’s success can be attributed to founder and brewmaster Eric Marshall’s focus on the old-world brewing principles he learned while studying the craft in Germany. He produces a range of traditional styles including IPA, bitter, pilsner, and wheat. Seasonal brews provide additional variety throughout the year. The Revival Red Ale was available this spring, but was recently replaced by Arrowhead Pale Ale – Marshall’s summer offering.
In its fourth year of production, Arrowhead was released slightly earlier this year due to increased production capacity at the brewery and an abundance of the beer’s signature hop, Citra. “Arrowhead Pale Ale continues to be a beer that craft beer fans ask about year round,” said Director of Sales and Marketing Wes Alexander in a recent press release. “We are releasing Arrowhead a bit earlier this year confident that we can keep up with demand until late August when we will switch seasonally to Oktoberfest.”
The beer itself is a lovely example of a pale ale. It pours orange in color with a thin white head and substantial lacing as the glass is emptied. The nose is dominated by citrus, a touch of pine, and a hint of peach. The body is light and soft, with a bready malt backbone that distinguishes Arrowhead from other pale ales. If you think of Sierra Nevada when you hear the words “pale ale” you will immediately notice a more subdued bitterness in Marshall’s offering. Arrowhead finishes semi-dry and clean. At only 5.2% ABV and 40 IBUs this is a beer to be enjoyed as a thirst-quencher, not a slow-sipper.
There are a lot of great summer seasonals available right now, but most of them are lagers, blondes, and wheats. For a full-flavored ale that won’t overpower, try Arrowhead Pale Ale. It’s an excellent complement to the charred flavors of summer’s grilled fare. And of course it would make an excellent sidekick to some Tex-Mex – even if the glory days of Casa Bonita are forever gone.