The spirit behind the funky little brew pub that started the craft beer-in-a-can movement nearly 10 years ago continues to fuel the fire for Oskar Blues Brewery. In addition to its restaurant locations the brewery announced the opening of its sustainable Hops & Heifers Farm, began building its own bikes with REEB Cycles rolled out its own Bonewagon Food Truck and posted a 40 percent increase in national beer sales in 2011. The brewery grew from 42,000 barrels in 2010 to 59,000 barrels in 2011— the 17,000 barrel increase represents nearly the equivalent of what the brewery produced in all of 2008.
What does all of this have to do with the CANundrum of selling craft beer in a can? A lot, if you ask Dale Katechis, the soul-founder of Oskar Blues who was named a 2011 ColoradoBIZ magazine CEO of the year finalist. “The farm, the bikes, the music are all an extension of what this is all about; doing what you love. It’s important to stay hands-on and passionate. We just hope everyone has as much fun with it as we do.”
The explosive growth moved the brewery into the Top 50 Americn Breweries list (36th craft brewery) according to the Brewers Association in 2010, “We’ve seen a lot of growth, the crew has done a great job learning how to effectively grow” says head brewer Dave Chichura who has been with the company for nearly seven years.
Oskar Blues is well into a more than $4 million dollar improvement project to start the year. The project includes two new trench drains, 14 200 barrel. fermenters, two 400 barrel bright beer tanks and a new can line (KHS Filler, Angelus Seamer) that will allow the brewery to double its canning speed and introduce 16oz cans to its line-up.