By David McIntyre
I still remember the morning in 1997 when I spotted a sign in the window of 303 Main Street in my hometown of Lyons announcing the opening of Oskar Blues. I, being a big blues music fan was delighted and immediately went inside to introduce myself to owner Dale Katechis, and find out what he had planned. I never anticipated what was to come.
The pub and eatery quickly became popular, and was famous for its southern hospitality and great live blues musical acts, both regional and national. In 2002, the funky little Colorado brew pub started stuffing their huge, voluminously hopped mutha of a pale ale (Dale's Pale Ale) into a can! Something that just wasn't done back then. The Tasty Weasel Taproom kicked its doors open in Longmont in 2008 to make way for a larger brew house when they outgrew their original digs in Lyons. Since then, they’ve kept the spirit of Lyons’ blues and rock legacy vibrant by having live music pumping out the doors every Friday through Monday, and serving the freshest beer around out of the taps. Dale not only began the craft-beer-in-a-can craze (Cans keep beer fresher, longer by eliminating the damaging effects of light and ingressed oxygen while being infinitely more recyclable and portable, allowing one to take them where ever your next soul saving adventure takes you.), but he has added a brewery to the hills of the Pisgah National Forest in Brevard, North Carolina in 2012, and another in the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin, Texas in 2016.
Oskar Blues opened Homemade Liquids & Solids in Longmont in 2009, then CHUBurger and Cyclhops, also in Longmont in 2013. It’s been five years since plans to open an Oskar Blues Brewery concept in Boulder’s historic railroad depot fell through. But now Oskar Blues has taken over 921 on historic Pearl Street, with a taproom of 20-plus taps and a kitchen modeled on the original Lyons location. And of course live blues and rock music.
Oskar Blues’ media specialist, Chad Melis, says that the brewery, which celebrated its 20th anniversary at its original location in Lyons this year, has always seen Boulder as a natural fit. “Coming from Boulder County, Boulder has always been a place that we have had a lot of great relationships: with Bolder Boulder, University of Colorado, Gold Rush Rally, and through the efforts of the CAN’d Aid Foundation with groups like the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance. The live music scene and connection to the outdoors is at the core of the Oskar Blues culture. We’re stoked to extend our front door to Pearl Street and Boulder proper.”
The brewery’s new location will feature a variety of Oskar Blues brews, from year-round offerings, to seasonal releases, to limited and barrel-aged specialty beers. In addition to the brewery’s own products, the new outpost will also feature beer from Michigan’s Perrin Brewing Company and Florida-based Cigar City Brewing; both of which were acquired by Oskar Blues in recent years. Now that it is officially open, Oskar Blues’ Boulder taproom will offer pared down versions of classic Oskar Blues restaurant dishes, and will allow consumers to purchase the suds, including rare, limited-release and specialty brews to take home.
And Oskar Blues isn’t done yet! This announcement comes amid a building boom for the Longmont beer maker, which is now the 10th-largest craft brewery in the United States. Oskar Blues opened a second CHUBurger restaurant in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood earlier this year, and is scheduled to open taproom/music venues later this year in both Colorado Springs and downtown Denver. Look for them to open soon.
I wonder if even Dale himself had an inkling this would happen?