Oskar Blues Brewery’s Canned Beer Apocalypse

By Chad Melis

“Great canned beer.” The term has been an oxymoron for craft beer lovers used to getting their full-flavored beers from bottles only. But in November of 2002, Oskar Blues Brewery (in tiny Lyons, Colorado, population 1,400) changed that by launching its “Canned Beer Apocalypse.”

The brewery began hand-canning its hoppy, assertive-but-elegant Dale’s Pale Ale on a table-top machine that sealed just one can at a time. The move made Oskar Blues the first U.S. craft brewer to brew and can its own beer.

Why Cans?

 “We thought the idea of our big, luscious pale ale in a can was hilarious,” recalls Founder Dale Katechis. “And, it made our beer immensely portable for outdoor enjoyment.”

Katechis and his crew then discovered other bennies of aluminum cans. “Cans keep beer incredibly fresh by fully protecting it from light and oxygen.”  Changing the core idea of what people expect out of a can is an absolute blast.

And, unlike cans of old, the modern aluminum can is lined with a coating so beer and metal never touch. Cans are also easier to recycle, free of glass breakage issues, and less fuel-consuming to ship—35 percent of the weight of a bottle of beer is the bottle itself.

Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids & Solids

Since the “Canned Beer Apocalypse,” Oskar Blues has expanded with the opening of Home Made Liquids and Solids in Longmont, Colo. The newest location, which features more than 40 beers on tap, and a menu full of Southern-inspired foods, is a direct reflection of the brewery’s success and the growing popularity of canned beer with their fans.

Honors for Oskar Blues

But, it’s the beers inside of the Oskar Blues cans that have wowed beer experts and consumers. The many honors for Dale’s Pale Ale (6.5% ABV) include; Top American Pale Ale  from the New York Times and World’s Best Canned Beer from Details magazine.

Old Chub Scottish Style Ale (8% ABV) is a semi-sweet dark beer with luxurious flavors of coffee, chocolate and a kiss of smoke. Its honors include Top Rated Scottish Ale from Beeradvocate.com.

Gordon is an Imperial Red Ale (8.7% ABV) with an intense aroma, a rich middle of malt  and hops, and a surprisingly comfy finish for a beer of its size. Its honors include a 2008 World Beer Cup medal and Top 5 U.S. Extreme Beers from the New York Times.

The brewery’s newest canned beer, Mama’s Little Yella Pils (5.3% ABV) is an all-malt Pilsner made with hearty amounts of pale malt, German specialty malts, and a blend of Bavarian hops.

“We love the way people’s heads spin around after they try one of our four-dimensional canned beers. Katechis says.  “That came out of a can? We hear it all the time.”