Five years ago, on the second weekend in May, John Oglesbee opened the doors of the downtown Longview brewery and sold his product in one day.
Since that day in 2016, Oil Horse Brewing Co. has become a landmark in the downtown area where people come for more than just beer – they come for the community.
“Our big push has been and always will be community-based,” Oglesbee said. “We tried to open up to a place where people can come and have fun in comfort.”
This weekend – the second Saturday in May – Oil Horse Brewing Co. will bring the community together again. This time it will be to celebrate the brewery’s fifth anniversary.
Oil Horse, which is at 101 W. Tyler St., will open at 4 p.m. Saturday. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. there will be live music, food trucks, cornhole and other activities in downtown Longview.
Center Street will be closed to traffic around the brewery on Saturday. Food trucks will be installed on Center Street in the direction of Methvin Street. Live music will be outdoors in Center and Tyler Streets, and cornholes and other activities will be set up in between.
Oglesbee said the brewery looks forward to commemorating its five-year milestone with the community.
Brewing started out as a hobby for Oglesbee. When he learned he had some form of gluten intolerance, he set out to create a gluten-free beer. A certain enzyme that helps remove gluten from beer made it safe for him, but he also found it to taste great – better than most gluten-free beers.
“I would brew frequently with my business partner, and we would say it would always be fun if we opened a business. It was kind of just a background joke at the time, but then we started to take it really seriously a few years later, ”Oglesbee recalls.
After a few initial meetings and securing funding, the dream came true and Oil Horse opened in May 2016.
Since then, a lot has changed for the company from when it was initially brewed on a small pallet system to the large production system it now uses. The brewery started canning and expanded its distribution from outside sales. Today, Oil Horse beers can be found around Longview but also in East Texas.
In 2020, as Oil Horse was forced to shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Oglesbee’s business partner had to walk away from the brewery. Oglesbee reopened in November as restrictions eased and Oil Horse customers began to return.
Since its reopening, the brewery has also brought back its favorite customer events. Every Thursday is a trivia night while Tuesdays see a wide variety of activities, including tap theology and a children’s story hour.
A relaxed community atmosphere, where everyone can come, continues to be the goal of the brewery.
“We’ve always been proud of ourselves here for having a really strong community atmosphere, really pushing for the ability to come in and sit and talk. This is one of the reasons we don’t have televisions, ”Oglesbee said. “We have some music in the background. Sometimes we’ll have live music here and there. We just like the space we have. “