Oskar Blues Brewery continued explosive growth in 2013 by posting a 37 percent increase in depletions and adding 32,000 barrels (bbls) of production. This follows eight years of consecutive double-digit growth (triple-digit growth before that).
Oskar Blues Brewery packaged 59,000 bbls in 2011 and doubled that production, reaching over 119,000 bbls in 2013. The growth has been fueled by the addition of a second brewery and Tasty Weasel Taproom, both in Brevard, N.C. Brewing started in N.C. in December 2012. The Oskar Blues Brevard Brewery shipped more than 46,000 bbls in its first year of operation as East Coast distribution increased throughout the year.
Colorado’s funky little Lyons brewpub has grown to become one of the largest American craft breweries to package beer exclusively in cans. The Colorado production was at 85,750 bbls of beer in 2012, which put Oskar Blues at 27th on the Brewers Association Top 50 Breweries list as of April 2013.
The majority of growth in 2013 came from existing markets, although the brewery added distribution in Michigan and Indiana. Oskar Blues also filled distribution voids in Central California, Eastern North Carolina and the balance of Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky last summer.
In addition to capacity increases, Oskar Blues added key player Lou Romano as national sales director in October and promoted Chris Russell to business development director, in preparation for 2014. These two industry veterans lead a staunch group of regional managers and a sales force that has grown to over 45 strong.
Innovation continues to drive the brewery. Dale’s Pale Ale was released nationwide as the first American beer in the single-serve 19.2 ounce “Imperial Pint” can to kick off 2013. Mama’s Little Yella Pils followed in Ball Corp.’s 19.2 ounce can in April. Arizona spring training baseball stadiums and Asheville Tourists’ McCormick Field, Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater and Fillmore Auditorium, along with Chicago’s House of Blues, are top drivers for this new single serve package.
“Continuing to push the boundaries is what gets us up in the morning, it’s what drives us. The 19.2 ounce package is a product of that drive and passion. We continue to do what we love; toss a can in your backpack for the backcountry or a grab a stovepipe (19.2) at music and sport venues.” said Oskar Blues Soul-Founder Dale Katechis.
Oskar Blues also offered its “big three beers” in the new CANundrum Mix’d 12-pack of cans. The 12-pack includes four each of the multiaward-winning brews — Dale’s Pale Ale, Mama’s Little Yella Pils and Old Chub Scotch Ale.
The Oskar Blues restaurant team, spearheaded by Jason Rogers & Anita Gray, also grew substantially in 2013, adding 86 jobs, a 50 percent increase over 2012, while increasing charitable donations to more than $62,000. The crew opened two new restaurants in Colorado — a craft-casual concept CHUBurger, featuring a menu created around Oskar Blues homegrown Hops & Heifers Farm raised beef and Berkshire pork; and CyclHOPS Bike CAN-tina, a quick full-service taco, craft beer and tequila eatery that also is the official retail and full-service bike shop home for Oskar Blues’ in-house bike brand, REEB Cycles.
The year 2013 also saw the creation of Oskar Blues CAN’d Aid Foundation, following the massive flooding in Oskar Blues home towns of Lyons and Longmont, Colo. Although the CAN’d Aid Foundation will develop national partnerships in a variety of focus areas, the Foundation’s immediate impact was fundraising efforts for the communities of Lyons and Longmont after the devastating flooding. With the support of the brewing industry and One Revolution, the Foundation raised $515,000, reaching their 12/31/2013 goal of $500,000. The Foundation funded 55 small businesses, 236 individuals and families and five organizations for flood relief by the end of the year.