Oskar Blues Brewery is located in Longmont, Colorado and is owned by Dale Katechis. Dale also owns Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids Restaurant, as well as the Brewery and Brew Pub and Grill.
In 1997, Dale opened up the tiny restaurant, Oskar Blues Cajun Grill, in Lyons, a town with a, population of just 1400. Two years later, Dale felt it was time to revamp his passion for home brewing by turning the restaurant into a brewpub. What started out as a small side project turned into a huge success.
The brewery makes six production beers in 100 and 200 barrel batches for distribution in 25 states. The restaurant is a Southern-inspired BBQ joint with 43 craft beers on tap and an in-house smoker, whilst their Grill offers up tasty-sounding Cajun, Creole and Southern-style comfort foods along with their beer. They regularly host live roots music, with big names in rock, bluegrass, jam music, folk, and Americana lining up to perform.
All sounds standard enough; restaurant-turned-brewpub, plus tasty food and beer. Oh, did I mention the small fact they only sell their beer in cans? Oskar Blues launched the canning operation in a crappy 60-year-old barn next door to the pub in the autumn of 2002. They were the first American craft brewery to can their output. The original crew used a hand-canning line on a table-top machine that sealed one can at a time. By putting tonight’s beer, Dale’s Pale Ale in a can, they launched, what they have dubbed the “Canned Beer Apocalypse.”
Cans instead of bottles? “We thought the idea of our big, luscious pale ale in a can was hilarious”, recalls Katechis. “And it made our beer immensely portable for outdoor enjoyment and fun”. Their cans keep beer incredibly fresh by fully protecting it from light and oxygen. Unlike cans of old, the modern aluminium can is lined with a water-based coating so beer and metal never touch, and there is no exchange of metallic flavour.
Cans are also the most easily and frequently recycled beverage package in the world, free of glass breakage issues, and less fuel-consuming to ship (cans enable Oskar Blues to reduce its fuel costs and carbon footprint for shipped beer by 35%).
And the proof was in the can with their flagship Dale’s Pale Ale being awarded Top American Pale Ale from the New York Times and World’s Best Canned Beers from Details magazine. The awards didn’t stop there and almost ten years after Oskar Blues started the revolution, the brewery took home three medals at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival
They also host the annual Burning Can Beer Festival, a celebration of craft beer in a can. Kayaking, biking, fly fishing, chainsaw carving and dog events are supplemented by lashings of canned craft beer. Sounds pretty awesome and this annual event has easily made it on to my must do list.
It all sounds pretty great, but will Deviant Dale’s IPA open a can of whoop ass on my palette? Here’s hoping.
It pours, well, pretty much unlike any other canned beverage I’ve had of late; vibrantly gold with a fluffy off white head. It smells fantastic, with a juicy tropical fruit aroma. Pineapple and mangoes are backed up with a piny bitterness. It certainly looks and smells better than a can of Skol.
The flavour backs up what was going on with the nose but opens up more to reveal oranges and lemon. This fruit platter is served up on a caramel malt bed, the hop note goes from pine to just cut grass in one bitteringly beautiful step. There’s heaps of carbonation and it’s solidly bodied. Deviant Dale’s is a quirky yet quintessential DIPA. Delicious stuff.
Thanks again to @thealetrail and @dassiegirl1 for bringing this back from their recent jaunt stateside. Wrapped up in a Katz’s Deli menu no less. Thanks guys.