Why Oskar Blues is the Arbiter of Cool, Canned, Craft Beer
Oskar Blues is serious about canned craft beer. They are said to be responsible for the first released canned craft beer in the United States, which was their Dale's Pale Ale in November 2002. They still only package their beer in cans and kegs, never bottles. You may be saying "Pssh, what's the big deal with cans?" but Oskar Blues would tell you, "cans keep beer fresher, longer by eliminating the damaging effects of light and ingressed oxygen while being infinitely recyclable and portable… taking them where your next soul saving adventure takes you." Frankly, it's also what makes them easy to spot when I'm searching for tasty craft beer – that short silvery can and signature font are hard to miss. Oskar Blues Brewery started out, like all great innovations, in a basement. Dale Katechis founded Oskar Blues Original Grill & Brew Restaurant in Lyons, Colorado in 1997. Katechis began brewing beer in the restaurant's basement just two years later. It wouldn't be until 2002 that the brew-pub started canning Dale's Pale Ale. Oskar Blues expanded to a Brevard, North Carolina location in 2013, and most recently established a brewery in Austin, Texas in 2016.
How well is Oskar Blues doing in the craft world?
Well, for starters, they were ranked as Colorado's second largest craft brewery and the 27th largest in the U.S. back in 2012 (to understand the magnitude of that, look into Colorado Craft Beer– it's serious). They are also the largest craft brewery (by vol.) in the United States to renounce glass bottles.
Time for Taste Testing
The Mr. Beer team chose to do a vertical tasting of four Oskar Blues picks for our weekly craft beer taste testing, and it went especially well. In fact, the next day we tried their Hotbox Coffee Porter for National Coffee Day and were pleased with its smoothness and flavor as well. What I'm saying is – you should try some, really. If it inspired this wily crew of beer snobs, it's good stuff. We definitely took note of what we liked about Oskar Blues for our own recipes, because that's the whole point here, naturally.
Appearance Pours a gold/copper color with a diminishing head and some lacing left in the glass. Aroma Smells like sweet, biscuit malts; citrus, floral hops; and clean yeast. Right on the mark. Flavor With the first sip the hops taste more piney/herbal, and the malts taste a bit more toasty. Mouthfeel This one's got a medium body and moderate carbonation. Overall Tasting Notes "Very hoppy, almost like an IPA," "great beer," "great beer with a little more hop than malt," "very nice pale ale with an herbal hop bite," and "yummy taste and aroma."
Appearance A pale, gold, and hazy wheat beer with a diminishing head. Aroma Sweet, biscuit malts; estery yeast; and citrus, grassy hops. Flavor We tasted sweet malt, estery yeast, and then floral, citrus, leafy hops. Mouthfeel A light body, moderate carbonation, and a crisp/dry finish. Overall Tasting Notes "Not bad," "very refreshing," "very mild Wit, but still has some faint esters," and "corn, wild yeast, citrus finish."
Appearance This Pils pours a pale, gold color with a diminishing head that finishes into lacing. Aroma Floral hops, sweet malts, and clean yeast. Flavor Tastes like floral, citrus hops; sweet, biscuit malt; and clean yeast. Mouthfeel Mama's has a light body, moderate carbonation, and a crisp/dry finish. Overall Tasting Notes "Clean beer," "super clean tasting with great flavor," "good pilsner," "very clean pilsner – nice herbal hop notes," and "perfect Pils."
Appearance Root beer color, with a lasting, creamy head, and some lacing. Aroma We smelled toasty, nutty, caramel, sweet malts; earthy, spicy hops; and clean yeast. Flavor The malts taste as great as they smell - toasty, roasty, smoky, sweet; backed by spicy, resinous hops; and clean yeast. This one also has warmth from its higher ABV. Mouthfeel Full body, creamy, moderate carbonation, and a long finish. Overall Tasting Notes "Meh," "great beer!" "great lacing on the cup and great flavor – one of my favorites," "sticky," "very full and complex," "love this scotch ale – subtle smoke, not too sweet," and "has some root beer taste – creamy feeling."
As we often do, we tried a promising back-kitchen brew from team member, this time Tim. Tim's Staggerback Stout was a great closer to our Oskar Blues tasting, a smooth, bold stout to make us proud of our own efforts.
Appearance Tim's brew has a cloudy, brown/black color, and creamy head. Aroma Sweet, caramel, chocolate, roasty malts; then earthy hops; clean yeast; and a slight alcoholic aroma. Flavor Tastes roasty, smoky, sweet malt; herbal, resinous hops; and clean yeast. Mouthfeel This stout has a full body, and moderate carbonation. Overall Tasting Notes "Good beer," "very sweet," "nice plum notes indicate good aging – great stout," and "dark, velvety, with a hanging disco ball."