I got into the craft beer business a bit by chance and a bit by fate. I’m a third generation restaurateur. The roots of the restaurant are in craft brewing. My grandfather, Pietro Piegari, was an Italian immigrant to the U.S. around the turn of the century. He came to this country as a young man to work in the coal mines. He became injured in the mines and, legend has it, learned how to make a local beer from the Choctaw Indians. He began serving meals and his craft beer in his house around the mid-20′s and continued uninterrupted (not even by prohibition) until the early-80’s. Even getting arrested a couple of times didn’t deter him. I figured I needed to help keep his memory alive.
In 1995, we introduced a small brewing operation into our family restaurant, Pete’s Place, and the craft beer roots of the past were reborn! In 2004, we began packaging and distributing the Choc Beer® that was started 85 years earlier. I’ve met great people in the industry, and, by no small measure, learned to make great beer. Over the years, we’ve added several beers to the lineup and several states to our reach.
A few years ago, we had the idea of letting the brewing crew do some one-off brews. Our idea was to brew a single batch of pretty much whatever they wanted and package it in 22-ounce bottles to distinguish it from our mainline products. Well, apparently these guys are part Belgian because that seems to be what they like to brew. It’s OK with me since we won the gold medal for our Belgian–style Dubbel at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival. The revolution of the small independent craft brewer is alive and well here in rural Oklahoma. I think my grandfather would be proud