Colorado based Oskar Blues Brewery has come a long way from its humble small town start in the 1990’s. Originally opened as a brewpub in the small, quaint mountain town of Lyons, Colorado, Oskar Blues has grown exponentially since then, opening a production brewery in nearby Longmont, Colorado, pioneering the canning of craft beer, expanding to Brevard, NC in 2012 and later taking investment capital from a private equity firm to aid in its expansion..
With a tentative opening date of April 20, 2016 Oskar Blues will expand its footprint to the already burgeoning craft beer presence in the ‘Live Music Capital of the World’ Austin, Texas. Oskar Blues will occupy a 50,000 square foot brewing space on Austin’s northside, 10420 Metric Boulevard, that will include a 5,000 square foot tap room to accommodate live music as well as thirsty Texans. In fact, the folks from Colorado will also bring their wildly popular ‘Burning Can ExtravaCANza’ a celebration of beer in a can, live music and outdoor sports, to its new location.
Austin was chosen not so much to have a footprint in Texas, as it was also a good fit for the brewery’s well known outdoor and live music oriented culture. “We continue to look at options to grow our brewery to the next level and the experience of opening a smaller, intimate taproom and brewery on a grassroots level in Brevard was a hell of a lot of fun. As we grow it’s important to find ways to stay small, engaged and intimate within the communities we want to spend our time in” advised Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis in last year’s press release.
Expansion of larger breweries into other states in the form of additional breweries is not uncommon throughout history. Anheuser-Busch InBev and the Miller Brewing Co (now owned by AB-InBev) have opened new breweries through the U.S. To help with production volume and national distribution. The impact to craft beer might be slightly different. After all despite craft beer’s national presence, it remains very regional as beer drinkers seek to keep their drinking more local.
So what might the overall impact be to Austin and Texas as a whole? “I think the beer culture in Austin can only improve when more breweries open or come to plant roots in Austin. I think Oskar Blues moving to Austin has helped add our city to the Asheville, Portland, Seattle, and Denver list of major beer towns. This will bring more jobs, which bring more brewers, which bring more breweries. I think it will be a welcome addition to the beer community” replied Forrest Rogness, owner and founder of Austin area Rogness Brewing.
Oskar Blues’ Austin representative Benjamin Hodge chimed in as well “From an OB representative – I am very excited to have a brewery here in Austin, to join the already booming industry, and wonderful local breweries that have been kickin’ ass!”
Texas consumers too have had their thoughts on the Colorado based brewer coming to the Lonestar State. Overall consumers appear to excited about the arrival and are embracing it. Andrew Schwab of Austin, Texas replied that “It will only help the beer scene in TX”; Karl Warstedt was also thrilled saying “I think it’s a great idea! Texas needs more good breweries like that…”. Not all share the same sentiment though, feeling that as far as good beer is concerned, Oskar Blues isn’t needed. Some do hope that the presence of the craft can pioneer in Texas will lead to the legalization of the crowler, a 32oz to go can invented by Oskar Blue, and found by the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission(TABC) deemed to be illegal in Texas last year. The TABC cites a section of the beverage code that states it’s illegal to repackage beer the way a crowler is, however many see no difference between a growler and a crowler.
Time will tell what the local impact will be, if any impact at all, as the grand opening is right around the corner. What we do know is Oskar Blues will bring a passion for craft beer and an attitude to go with it which can only help the industry as a whole and in Texas. Saluti!