With so many microbreweries in Colorado it can be easy to be overlooked, especially for the breweries in small towns. Like in Lyons, Colorado where the population is roughly 1400 and most people drive through it on their way to Estes Park. Well, in 1997, a Cajun restaurant opened and by 1999 owner Dale Katechis took his passion for home brewing and turned his restaurant into a brewpub. Regulars and tourists loved the beer he was producing and by 2002 it was time to start distributing. Dale did something that no other craft brewer in the nation was doing, he opted against bottles and settled on cans. The end result has been very successful and what other brewery would do this other than Oskar Blues?
At first glance walking into Oskar Blues is like stepping back in time to the 1950s, where rock and roll and the blues are king. From the statue of Elvis, to the photos of B.B. King, and the music notes on the ceiling, it is clear this is one brewpub with personality. Off to the side of the restaurant is the gift shop where mugs, t-shirts, and everything Oskar Blues is available for sale. The bold flavors of the beer match the Cajun food, and all the décor of the restaurant, but when people are thirsty and want a beer there are plenty of great ones to try.
Even though Oskar Blues is widely distributed and can be bought at the majority of liquor stores, there is still something special about having a beer fresh from the tap at the source. Even though there is something special about drinking a high quality beer out of a can, the freshness and quality in Lyons could not be beat. The standard beers include Dale’s Pale Ale, Deviant Dale’s, G’Knight, Gubna, Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Old Chub, and Ten Fidy and were all available, fresh, and delicious in their own way. The bitterness of the hops in the pale ales, the body of the stout, and balance of the malts were all that much better. Of course another advantage of visiting the actual brewpub is there is always something to try that is only available on site.
Only available on draught, one of the more unique and balanced beers offered, is the One Nut Brown Ale. A traditional brown ale with only a hint of nut flavor, this is one ale that will not disappoint. All flavors are prominent and not a single one overpowers the other. The nut, hops and malt all harmonize together to create one refreshing ale that is easy to sip on, and one that any beer lover will enjoy. But Oskar Blues does not stop there, and despite being so mainstream and well established in the craft beer scene, they still are not afraid to experiment. From time to time there will be a brew oddity available at the tap room ranging from a doppelbock to a porter, and a red rye lager. Or they may take an existing beer and put a spin on it like the addition of tart cherries to their imperial stout. The possibilities are endless for what may be available on any given day at this small tap room.
Sometimes it is hard to believe that what started out as a Cajun restaurant in a small town has blown up into one of the biggest breweries in Colorado. What started out as a passion turned into revolutionizing the industry with the introduction of craft beer into cans, and now several breweries have copied their model for distribution. After 15 years and several awards, Oskar Blues has its place in the craft beer competition in Colorado, and with high quality ales readily available and more unique ones available at the tap room is makes you wonder just how much further they will go in the next 15 years.
Like what you are reading? Have a brewery you want us to visit? Join the official Mile High Brews Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mile-High-Brews/300062080014536 or follow us on Twitter @MileHighBrews1