Oskar Blues Brewery, the first craft brewery in the country to brew and hand-can its own beer, continued explosive growth in 2014 and earned a position in the top half of the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America. The average company on the list grew a mind-boggling 516 percent. Nine plus years of consecutive double digit growth (triple digit growth before that) catapulted Oskar Blues onto the list.
“As an Inc. 5000 honoree, Oskar Blues Brewery now shares a pedigree with Intuit, Zappos, Under Armour, Microsoft, Jamba Juice, Timberland, Clif Bar, Pandora, Patagonia, Oracle and other notable alumni. You are in good company — which is exactly where you belong,” said Eric Schurenberg, Inc. Magazine president and editor-in-chief in a letter to Oskar Blues Soul Founder Dale Katechis.
Oskar Blues’ exciting growth has encompassed a number of new projects, including:
- Release of the first American Nitro canned craft beer, Old Chub Nitro.
- Creating the CAN’d Aid Foundation, which has raised more than $1.2 million for Colorado flood relief, recycling, sustainability initiatives and more.
- Opening the Oskar Blues REEB Ranch, an epic bike and beer-fueled destination in North Carolina.
- A more than 40 percent increase in beer production and distribution over the past year with the addition of a second brewery.
- Two additional Oskar Blues’ family restaurants, CyclHOPS Bike CAN-tina and CHUBurger at Coors Field, opening in the first half of 2014.
Oskar Blues Brewery has more than doubled production since 2011, packaging more than 119,000 barrels in 2013, and increasing distribution to 35 U.S. states and four countries overall. Growth was fueled by the addition of a second brewery and Tasty Weasel Taproom, both in Brevard, N.C., in late 2012. Both East and West Oskar Blues breweries are continuing to expand in 2014, including adding 60,000 square feet of production space in Colorado. That space will include a six-lane bowling alley that will be open to Tasty Weasel customers.
Oskar Blues has grown to become the largest American craft brewery to package beer exclusively in cans and currently is ranked 24th on the Brewers Association Top 50 Breweries list. Oskar Blues was named “Craft Brewer of the Year” by Beverage World Magazine in 2012.
Innovation continues to drive the brewery. Old Chub Nitro was released nationwide in 2014 as the first 16.4-ounce American craft beer on nitro in a can. In the two tap rooms, Oskar Blues introduced the Crowler, a recyclable 32-ounce growler can filled with fresh draft beer from the source. The tabletop seamer Crowler machines are a huge hit, and Oskar Blues has started a cottage industry building and selling them to other breweries and pubs.
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 “Imperial Pint” 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. Everything we do is a product of that drive and passion. We continue to do what we love — toss a can in your backpack for the back country or a grab a stovepipe [19.2 ounces] at music and sport venues,” said Katechis.
Oskar Blues also offered its “big three” beers in the CANundrum Mix’d 12-pack of cans, introduced in 2013. The 12-pack includes four each of the multi-award-winning brews-Dale’s Pale Ale, Mama’s Little Yella Pils and Old Chub Scotch Ale. Dale’s Pale Ale was named “Top U.S. Pale Ale” by The New York Times and described as “one of the quintessentially hoppy pale ales of our time,” by BeerAdvocate.com. RateBeer.com refers to Mama’s Little Yella Pils as “like summer in a can.” Mama’s Little Yella Pils also won silver at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival while Old Chub Scotch Ale earned bronze.
Oskar Blues’ passion for bikes and craft beer is the inspiration behind the new Oskar Blues REEB Ranch in Henderson County, N.C., which opens to the public this month. Located about 8 miles from the Brevard-based Oskar Blues brewery, this epic beer and bike-fueled destination offers a haven for mountain bikers (including camping and accommodations), a place to grow hops, pasture land for spent grain-fed cows and a music and event space, all against the beautiful backdrop of Dupont State Forest. The Oskar Blues REEB Ranch is home to The Bike Farm, an established bike guide and concierge service. On October 11, 2014, the Oskar Blues REEB Ranch will host the Red Bull Dreamline Ultimate BMX Dirt Bike Competition, which will bring riders and spectators from all over the country to the event.
Also, in late 2013, the CyclHOPS Bike CAN-tina, a third Oskar Blues concept restaurant opened in Longmont, Colo. The quick full-service taco, craft beer and tequila eatery also serves as the official retail and full-service bike shop home for Oskar Blues’ in-house bike brand, REEB Cycles. CyclHOPS joins the two CHUBurgers (the first opened in Longmont in 2013) and Longmont’s Homemade Liquids & Solids in Oskar Blues’ stable of family restaurants. More than 40,000 burgers were sold from the Coors Field CHUBurger in the first season.
The menus at all the restaurants are created by Chef Jason Rogers and based on beer and Berkshire pork raised on Oskar Blues Hops & Heifers Farm. Homemade Liquids & Solids was recently voted one of the top five craft beer bars in the Mountain West region in a Brewers Association poll of more than 19,000 craft beer lovers.
Also in the past year, Oskar Blues established the CAN’d Aid Foundation, following the massive flooding in Lyons and Longmont. Although the foundation’s immediate focus was on maximizing fundraising efforts for the expedited distribution of funds to the impacted communities, the CAN’d Aid Foundation has since developed national partnerships in a variety of focus areas, including recycling, outdoor recreation, child and family advocacy and sustainability initiatives. To date, the foundation has raised more than $1.2 million for businesses, nonprofits, families and others in need.