Rocky Mountain Brewing News Dec. 2009/Jan. 2010 : Page 1

Vol. 7, No. 6 BigWins for BigWins for Small Brewer Small Brewer & Brewery & Brewery Dry Dock Brewing Company’s founder and owner Kevin DeLange and head brewer Bill Eye. See Big Wins p.19 Brewer Brian Hutchinson. The can of beer is a U.S. icon. It is found primarily in the refrigerators of sports lovers, dudes who watch fast cars turn left for hours or in the backpacks of outdoors people who like the light weight of a can. Generations of Americans see the liquid in the beer can as yellow, low in calories and rather inexpensive. Today, the can of beer is getting a fresh image-mainly due to its “green” qualities and from a revolt lead by craft brewers who prefer dark, strong, hoppy and expensive liquids. The revolution began at Oskar Blues Brewery (OBB) in Lyons, Colorado. In November 2002, they decided to use cans of their beer to promote the brewpub, the first small craft brewery in the country to do so. Since then they have gone from straight up un-acceptance and battling the negative image of cans to becoming industry leaders and owning two restau- rants, two breweries and the largest painted “can” in Colorado. In the beginning it was revolutionary, but in truth it was just an evolution of an all-aluminum vessel that was designed by Coors Brewing Company almost fifty years ago. For Oskar Blues’s See Alpha p.17 owner Dale Katechis his business has come full circle in a ten years: from restaurant to brewpub to micro-cannery and back to their roots with a new restaurant-tap house creatively named Oskar Blues’ Homemade Liquids and Solids. The Oskar Blues story begins in Lyons, where the Katechis family started a restaurant/blues bar in 1997. The restau- rant quickly became a local favorite with a menu that was focused on primarily Cajun food but included burgers and pizza. Just as popular was the bar below the restau- rant, which soon became “the bar in town”. They brought in national blues musicians to draw people in from surrounding areas. This combination of blues music and home-style grub from the South found a true home in the grittier outskirts of Boulder County. In 1999, they purchased a 6-barrel brewery from a now defunct Santa Clarita Brewery in Santa Barbara, Callifornia and began brewing in the tiny basement of the pub. Late in 2002, they purchased a two can filler and sealer. “We thought it would be be funny to have cans of our beer,” See Oskar p.2 Staff welcomes you to the new Oskar Blues.. From the left: Shelby Sterkel, Brandon Douglas, Brianna Duran By David Mentus December/January 2009/10

From Roots To Revolution & Back

The can of beer is a U.S. icon. It is found primarily in the refrigerators of sports lovers, dudes who watch fast cars turn left for hours or in the backpacks of outdoors people who like the light weight of a can. Generations of Americans see the liquid in the beer can as yellow, low in calories and rather inexpensive. Today, the can of beer is getting a fresh image-mainly due to its “green” qualities and from a revolt lead by craft brewers who prefer dark, strong, hoppy and expensive liquids.

The revolution began at Oskar Blues Brewery (OBB) in Lyons, Colorado. In November 2002, they decided to use cans of their beer to promote the brewpub, the first small craft brewery in the country to do so. Since then they have gone from straight up un-acceptance and battling the negative image of cans to becoming industry leaders and owning two restaurants, two breweries and the largest painted “can” in Colorado. In the beginning it was revolutionary, but in truth it was just an evolution of an all-aluminum vessel that was designed by Coors Brewing Company almost fifty years ago. For Oskar Blues’s owner Dale Katechis his business has come full circle in a ten years: from restaurant to brewpub to micro-cannery and back to their roots with a new restaurant-tap house creatively named Oskar Blues’ Homemade Liquids and Solids.

The Oskar Blues story begins in Lyons, where the Katechis family started a restaurant/blues bar in 1997. The restaurant quickly became a local favorite with a menu that was focused on primarily Cajun food but included burgers and pizza. Just as popular was the bar below the restaurant, which soon became “the bar in town”.

They brought in national blues musicians to draw people in from surrounding areas.

This combination of blues music and home-style grub from the South found a true home in the grittier outskirts of Boulder County. In 1999, they purchased a 6-barrel brewery from a now defunct Santa Clarita Brewery in Santa Barbara, Callifornia and began brewing in the tiny basement of the pub.

Late in 2002, they purchased a two can filler and sealer. “We thought it would be be funny to have cans of our beer,”

Says Dale Katechis. Funny or not, the can eventually replaced their 22-ounce bombers. At this time many people and brewers thought canned craft beer was just a fad or gimmick. Some craft brewers, who used the can as whipping post in the past, were saying that the can gave metallic flavor to beer and they would never stoop so low as to associate their beer with a can. But taste tests conducted by beer aficionados and the beer media found no effect from the can and its aluminum composition. The fact was that the water-based coating used on the lid and can had been part of the design for years. Despite the nay-saying, Dale and his brewers found the real proof was in the demand for full flavored beer in can. So they kept growing by word-ofmouth and built a 15-barrel brewhouse in a metal building adjacent to the barn.

In 2004, a 5-head canning machine was installed and larger fermenters were put in the brewhouse. Once this building was stuffed to capacity it would be the last of the upgrades that the original brewing facility would receive. From 2004 to 2007 the brewery flourished and they won people over with strong canned beer and their fun, humorous take on the sometimes too serious craft beer industry.

From this point on the OBB was no longer on the fringe of craft brewing; they were leading their self-proclaimed “Canned Beer Apocalypse.” Expansion In early 2008, OBB began to realize that the Lyons facility was not meeting demand or projections. Looking to larger towns in Boulder County, they found a building for their current facility in an industrial park on Pike Street in Longmont. A 50-barrel brewhouse was custom built by JV Northwest; the canning line was built by a Chinese manufacturer.

The new canning line allowed them to jump from to over 100 cans per minute. By May of 2008, the new production facility became fully operational and the Lyons brewpub was stripped down to almost zero production. Since then the Longmont brewery has added additional tanks on a monthly basis, hiring more brewers to work with them and managed to open a tasting room on site.

With the center of Oskar Blues brewing being moved to Longmont, the Lyons restaurant business became almost Completely separated from the bodacious brewing facility and identity. For Katechis, something was missing as he now found himself without a restaurant to promote his new cannery-brewery. “We got into the canning thing to promote the Lyons brewpub and the whole canning thing pulled us away from its roots,” he says, adding, “I needed to feed my inner restaurateur and I wanted to provide an Oskar Blues home in Longmont.

I often rode by the old Silo-Garden Center building on my bike and thought the location and building itself had potential. From early on I thought the silo would be a great as painted can. We finally looked into leasing the building in January of 2009. It then took eight months to come to terms and we started renovating in August.” For OBB, this is where this was when the revolution ends and to a return back to its roots begins, as Oskar Blues’ Homemade Liquids and Solids.

Extension The concept of the Oskar Blues’ Homemade Liquids and Solids of Longmont was born out of the original mold of the Lyons brewpub. When asked about the lengthy name Dale responded, “We wanted to build our restaurant around the concept of homemade food and beer on tap and the name seemed to fit.” The exterior of the building has become a local landmark. Connected to the aforementioned can is a modern, Colorado mining shack-skinned main building with a large patio behind it. On the inside you will find a more refined look of what you would expect from an OBB establishment, with the same kitschy, blues-rock-folk art décor. There are mix of booths and tables that seem to utilize the quaint spot. The central fixture of the inside is the bar with 43 taps featuring eight selections from Oskar Blues Brewery and 35 guest beers. Here you will find all of the OBB standards, oak-aged version of their dark ales with a couple seasonals from the Lyons brewpub. Next to their own brews are many of Colorado’s great brews from Boulder, New Belgium and Odell, and national favorites like Dogfish Head and Pizza Port. “We wanted represent and respect the Colorado craft beer scene as well as craft beer as a whole,” Dale says.

“As a tap house of beer we serve our beer side by side with our guest beer to offer the customer the best beer available. There is no competition to get on our guest taps here, we choose based on what is available and charge the customer fairly.” The food menu is different from the original pub and slightly more refined.

The same major food groups are there: appetizers, pizza, burgers, salads, Cajun and southern BBQ dishes. They offer a day of the week special for dinner and the famous beer can chicken made with their own brew. Dale admits after 3 weeks of opening: “The first few weeks of business exceeded expectations and we have a lot of work to do.” This sounds fair enough seeing how it generally takes great time and effort for something new to evolve even if it is something familiar. It is surrounded by national chain restaurants, and only one of a couple Colorado-grown restaurants in the southwestern corner of the sprawling city of Longmont. They have music on Friday and Saturday nights, a rare treat in Longmont, with small covers of $5-10 that include local musicians like Romano Paoletti, Oakhurst and Hazel Miller.

Overall, the scene on Hover is happening thanks to OBB. In a time where businesses and restaurants are hanging by a thread, it shows that there is room for something positive, local and solid in the craft brewing-pub business. For Oskar Blues it feels like a new home and a suitable evolution from their roots as a revolutionary brewpub to back to local favorite.

Oskar Blues owner Dale Katechis.

How to Get There To find OBB Homemade Liquids and Solids look for the giant can of Oskar Blues painted red, white and blue. It is obvious when traveling east on highway 119 from Boulder to Longmont. If traveling west on CO-119 though Longmont look for the mall type buildings as you leave the city limits look for Hover and turn south or left on to it. Drive a few yards up and look for the pub located on the southwest corner off Hover and 119. There is a lot of parking behind the restaurant but if that fills up be mindful when poaching the neighbors’ spots, you are crossing two major roads 5 to 6 lanes wide and traffic is very swift.

Read the full article at http://rmbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/From+Roots+To+Revolution+%26amp%3B+Back/287103/28757/article.html.

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