Choc Beer brews up rich tradition

Monday, October 6th 2008, 7:28 pm
By: News 9

By Darren Brown, INsite team

KREBS, Okla.--Pale ale.  Dark lager.  German beer, Mexican beer, the list goes on and on.  There's a beer for every taste, and every locality.  But there's one beer that can claim to be truly "native."

Choc Beer, brewed in Krebs, Oklahoma, has a history unique to the Sooner state, and Joe Prichard, owner of the Choc Beer Co., never gets tired of telling the story.

It's a story that begins with Italian immigrants who came to Oklahoma to work in the rich coal mines of southeastern Oklahoma. 

It also begins with Prichard's grandfather.

 "He came to this country as a small boy, began working in the mines probably as a small boy," said Prichard.  "He was injured in the mines as a young adult, had to have a way to make a living for his family, so he knew how to do a couple of things."

Those two skills were cooking and brewing beer, but he had a little help with the beer.  You see, it was the local natives who taught Pete how to make his famous brew.  The name "Choc" is short for Choctaw, as in the tribe.

"It was a very close-knit society amongst the natives to the terrritory and the Italian immigrants," said Prichard.  "They were a pretty close-knit bunch."

Pete learned how to make the beer in 1919, and he opened his now-famous restaurant Pete's Place, in 1925.

The company has just launched a line of beers that tell Pete's story, from his arrival to this country, to his mining injury, to brewing under prohibition.  The new beers have names like "Miner Mishap,"and "Basement Batch."

With Choc Beer being distributed across the country, and his story being shared with new fans all the time, does Prichard ever wonder what his grandfather's reaction might be?

"Everybody always talks about that--how my grandfather and my father would thought if they would have seen this today," Prichard said.  "I dont know-- I think they would be proud of what we've done--but probably scare the hell out of them too!"