Get that Can-Do Attitude with Oskar Blues Brewery
The craft beer industry hasn’t been around for very long, but the can-centric Oskar Blues Brewery based in Lyons, Colorado have been around for just about all of it nonetheless. Founded by Dale Katechis in Lyons, Colorado in 1997, the brewery started putting their beer out in can form starting in 2002.
This was no easy feat, mind you. At the time only large-scale breweries worked with the Ball Can Company, meaning that founder Dale Katechis had to do some beer magic to get Ball on board with the Lyons-based brewery to can their beer. Thankfully the sales pitch worked and today we have more Oskar Blues cans that we can count.
Dale loved canned beer so much that we even have him to thank for the stovepipe 19.2 oz beer cans making their way to American shores, as it was his request that made these wonders available to the US market.
Speaking of big cans, we also have Oskar Blues to thank for the Crowler that your local brewery probably fills for you, too. These 32-oz cans and the machine to seal them up all come from Oskar Blues and Ball Corporation, making them continued innovators in the craft beer canning world.
Today, Oskar Blues operates a total of five breweries including ones in Longmont, Boulder, and Oak Room, all in Colorado as well as Austin, Texas and Brevard, North Carolina. Oskar Blues ships their beer to all 50 states and the District of Columbia as well as 17 other countries and counting.
The big question that always comes up when talking about canned beer though, is why a can instead of a bottle? Isn’t the glass in a beer bottle better? The short answer is that a can is always better than a bottle for beer, but the long answer has a few more facts.
Why Put Beer in a Can?
Beer has been put into bottles for over 440 years, making this receptacle for beer quite the long-standing champ of getting beer from brewer to drinker. There’s been a revolution in craft beer lately though that’s trying to change that. Canned beer is making a comeback in a major way, with more and more craft breweries jumping on the canning wagon and not looking back. Before we get into why cans are better than bottles (and yes, they really are), a very short history lesson is in order.
The first beer can was available to the public in 1935 from Kruger Brewing. These cans were flat tops that required a church key, or can piercing opener, to open. Jump ahead to 1962 and our very own Iron City Brewing was the first brewery to introduce pull tab cans that required no opener, other than your fingers that is.
Travel ahead in time once more to 2002 and Oscar Blues Brewing becomes the first craft brewery to sell their beer only in cans, no bottles. Today craft beer in cans abounds, with more available every day. So what’s so great about a can?
There’s a lot that’s great about cans, actually. First and probably most importantly, cans are nowhere near as fragile as bottles are. This means no breakage and sharp shards of glass to worry about. Cans are lighter than bottles, so it’s easier to ship them and easier for you to carry a six-pack or case home. Cans are far more recyclable than bottles are, and since they’re lighter, they use less fuel when shipping, so cans are definitely more environmentally friendly than a bottle could ever be.
You can also pack more cans into a truck than bottles, which means beer trucks can transport more beer per trip. A typical pallet can hold 70 cases of bottles while the very same pallet can hold 100 cases of cans. With 30 more cases per pallet, that’s an extra 720 cans of beer per pallet!
Cans also protect your beer from light and oxygen, the two biggest enemies of beer, cans get cold quicker, stack easier, and fit into a cooler better with no worry of finding a broken one when you get where you’re going.
Canned beer is perfect for the great outdoors, too. From the beach to the outdoor concerts, hiking, camping, boating, and baseball/softball games that are spread throughout the summer months, canned beer is just about perfect. There’s no breakage, no fear of injury, and best of all, you can fit more cans into the cooler than bottles!
Oskar Blues Beer
Learning about the history of Oskar Blues and why beer cans are awesome is all nice and fine, but it’s the beer we really care about, right? Currently Oskar Blues offers 6 year-round beers as well as the new Wild Basin Boozy Sparkling Water, which we’ll get to in a moment. For now, let’s check out the longest-running beers that have earned the title of Year Round at Oskar Blues.
Dale’s Pale Ale – If history is what you want, then Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale is what you need to get. Oskar Blues is the first craft brewery to can their beer and is still one of the only craft breweries in the country that relies solely on canning for individual sales. Big and hoppy, this American Pale Ale (APA) comes in at 6.5% ABV and is as refreshing as it is bitter, and that is to say a lot on both counts. This critically acclaimed trailblazer was the first craft kid on the block in a can and is still one of the best examples of an APA out there today.
Mama’s Yella Pils – Always in a can, Mama’s Little Yella Pils is a craft version of the pilsners available around the world. Brewed with 100% malted barley, Mama’s comes in at 5.3% ABV and a bitterness level that’s just right for a hot day.
Old Chub Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy – Scottish Ales are an interesting breed of beer. They’re dark, yet rarely do these beers feature the flavors you typically associate with dark beers. Old Chub comes in at 8% ABV and like many other Scottish Ales, features prominent aromas and flavors of toasted barley paired with a lightly smoked malt. Together, this gives Old Chub a sweet character that’s backed up with some alcohol and a slight hint of smoke to make it a truly unique experience.
G’Knight Imperial Red Ale – Some beers are named to be catchy and attention-grabbing on the shelf, while others are inside jokes that the brewery chooses to make public. In the case of G’Knight, there’s much more to the name of this beer than meets the eye. Named for another pioneer in the craft beer industry, Gordon Knight, this beer was named to honor him and the impact he had not only on Oskar Blues, but craft beer as a while.
This beer is a hefty, dry-hopped imperial red IPA that’s malty, sticky, and full of hop flavor. Coming in at 8.7% ABV and 60 IBU, this is one seriously great beer.
Originally named Gordon, the beer was renamed G’Knight after a naming dispute with another brewery. Echoing the history behind this beer and its renaming, G’Knight got another, albeit smaller, renaming specifically in the Pittsburgh area when local craft beer legend Tony “The Beerman” Knipling suddenly passed away. The brewery then sent cases of G’Knipling to be shared with his friends and family.
Was this difficult to do for Oskar Blues? No, not really. Did it mean the world to everyone that got a can of G’Knipling? Well, as one of those lucky enough to know Tony and to have one of these cans, all I can say is that it all of a sudden got really dusty in here, and I’m not tearing up, you are!
Wild Basin Boozy Sparkling Water – The newest kid on the block in the year-round collection for Oskar Blues isn’t really a beer, but a boozy water. Crafted with a light, refreshing flavor in mind, Wild Basin has flavors including Classic Lime, Lemon Agave Hibiscus, Melon Basil, and Cucumber Peach. With zero grams of sugar and only 100 calories, this 5% ABV boozy water is surprisingly exactly what you need for the hot, hot summer. Beers are great and everything but sometimes you need something exactly like this.