Sunday, November 9, 2008

Breweries of Longmont Part III - Oskar Blues

Oskar BluesThis is the final entry of a three part series covering the breweries of Longmont Colorado. Today Fermentedly Challenged spotlights the new Oskar Blues brewing facility in Longmont. Earlier in 2008, Oskar Blues opened up this brand new facility in order to expand production and keep up with the growing demand for their best craft beers in a can. The new facility is in a huge warehouse building in the south part of town. It sits on the corner of Pike Road and Sunset Street. You'll probably spot their beer trucks outside in the parking lot.

Finding this place isn't difficult, however as of November 2008, I was surprised to find that there was no tasting room there (yet) at the new facility. All I found was an open warehouse and employees going in and out of the doors on the south side of the building. Back in the Spring during the Rocky Mountain Brewfest, the guys at the Oskar Blues booth told me to just walk in and ask someone to show me around. So that's just what I did. I chose an open door and peeked inside and it didn't take long before someone came up to me and started talking and agreed to take me on a quick tour.

The first thing I noticed was that this place was BIG. Already Oskar Blues had filled well over half of this brew house with what looked like brand spanking new equipment. New fermenters, new bright tanks, new canning line. The equipment in here just shined. The air was filled with the smell of fresh hops. It was a wonderful aroma, something I could definitely get used to.

Back behind the new canning line are rows of tall 100 bbl fermenters. Here they turn wort into such brews as Dale's Pale Ale, Gordon, Old Chub and Ten Fidy. Oskar Blues is busy brewing new batches of beer about 6 to 7 days of every week and canning 3 to 4 days a week. In order to keep up with the demand, Oskar Blues has had to boost production by over 75% over the previous year. Already Oskar Blues has produced over 20,000 barrels in 2008.

Hidden behind a row of fermenters I spied a row of Stranahan whiskey barrels. Oskar Blues has begun barrel aging a small portion of their canned beers. One barrel was labeled "Whiskey Dick" - a barrel aged version of their Dale's Pale Ale. Right next to that was a barrel of Gordon, and also a barrel of Ten Fidy as well as some barrel aged Old Chub. I was anxious to get my hands on some of this beer but was told that the only place you could drink some of this was up in Lyons at their restaurant.

Unfortunately for me, I didn't have time that day to head up to Lyons to try some barrel aged beer. That will have to wait for another time.

One curious sight that I saw inside their warehouse was an indoor batting cage and a half court basketball court set up. Employees were free to use those facilities. One way that employees get from one end of the brewhouse to the other is to use skateboards. I saw at least two employees sliding across the floor while I was there. Looks like a fun place to work.

Just before I left, I walked through a cavern of empty beer cans waiting to be filled. It's awe inspiring knowing that all those cans will soon be filled with all of that great tasting Oskar Blues beers. That beer will head out to over stores in over 22 states soon.

It's too bad that Oskar Blues doesn't have a tap room at their new facility. That is - not yet. While no specific plans have been drawn, you can bet that a tap room will be in their plans sometime in the near future. After all, there is still plenty of room inside the new facility. Update: in 2009 Oskar Blues opened their new tasting room inside this facility called The Tasty Weasel.

I'll end this series with a short 7-minute video of the personal tour I received when I visited Oskar Blues in October.

Related articles:
- Breweries of Longmont Part II - Left Hand Brewing.
- Breweries of Longmont Part I - Pumphouse Brewery.
- The beers of the Pumphouse Brewery.
- Oskar Blues opens Longmont facility.

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