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Oskar Blues Hopes to Brew Success on the East Coast

We’re just a few days into May, but it’s already shaping up to be a busy month for Colorado craft beer. Last week Longmont-based Oskar Blues announced that it would be opening its first facility outside Colorado, with plans to open a new location in Brevard, North Carolina.

Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis told the new brewery will be “just off the bike path to Bracken Mountain” in Brevard’s small downtown near the Pisgah National Forest.

“This place rings true with the same eclectic mountain charm that inspired Oskar Blues to put Dale’s Pale Ale in a can back in the day in Lyons... Brevard and Lyons share a small town main street tone mingled with live music and an energy emerging from the surrounding hills.”

Oskar Blues sells more than 35 percent of its beer east of the Mississippi river, so an East Coast location would help save on shipping costs. But according to spokesman Chad Melis – the move is an opportunity for Oskar Blues to grow and move forward without simply getting bigger…

“The thought of going to a smaller town, a similar-minded town to Lyons, where we began... just seemed like a hell of a lot more fun than building an even larger building in Colorado.”

Melis says Brevard appealed on several fronts; like Lyons, it's a small-town community that is beer-savvy, music oriented, and has plenty of mountain-biking and other outdoor activities.

The company has secured a 30,000 square foot brewery space, plus another 6,000 square feet for a restaurant and music venue. Plans call for the live music venue and brewery to be open by the end of this year.

Oskar Blues is now the third regional brewery to expand into the Tarheel state, with Sierra Nevada (based in Chico, CA) and Fort Collins' New Belgium Brewing recently announcing plans to open facilities there.

Oskar Blues' expansion announcement came just before learning they had won gold for their G'Knight Imperial Red Ale in the 2012 World Beer Cup -- announced this past weekend at the 29th annual Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego.

The 2012 World Beer Cup by the numbers…

  • Entrants: 799 breweries from 54 countries and 45 states
  • Entries: 3,921 beers in 95 categories
  • Awards given: 284
  • Average number of beers entered per category: 41
  • Most-entered category: America-style India Pale Ale, with 150 entries
  • Least-entered category: German-style Sour Ale, with 11 entries

Colorado entered 274 categories and brought home 27 awards. A complete list of all the winners [pdf] is here.

As the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.
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