Oskar Blues Brewery, the innovators behind the craft beer-in-a-can apocalypse, finished 2016 strong eclipsing 200,000 barrels shipped with several significant milestones achieved throughout the year including the addition of a brewery in Austin, several new SKUs, expansion of its barrel-aging program and the completion of its U.S. footprint. Flagship brew Dale’s Pale Ale became the bestselling craft can 6-pack in total U.S. Food.
In August of 2016, Oskar Blues’ brewery and live music venue opened its doors in Austin, TX while a 21,000 square foot expansion took place in its Brevard, NC brewery raising the potential capacity amongst all three breweries to 500,000 bbls and adding 43 jobs. The brand also completed its 50 state U.S. footprint with distribution in Montana and further expanded internationally with the addition of Australia, the Netherlands, and Belgium, totaling nine international markets.
Oskar Blues continued to push innovation through new beer offerings and packaging. The Can gROWLER (CROWLER®) from Ball Corporation and Oskar Blues grew to over 1,000 installations to date. Many of the last year’s installations were due to new locations choosing aluminum over glass for their growler choice and many established locations discontinued offering glass growlers altogether. CROWLER® has quickly shown how far cans have come and how beneficial the evolution of CROWLER® cans are to the growler customer.
The brewery launched four new SKUs, including year-round offerings BEERITO Amber Mexican Lager and Priscilla White Wit Wheat, while launching limited release cans of Passion Fruit Pinner IPA and Hotbox Coffee Porter. The expansion of its barrel-aging program resulted in national distribution of Barrel-aged Ten FIDY Imperial Stout in 19.2 ounce, single-serve cans and limited taproom-only releases of rum barrel-aged Death by Coconut, rum barrel-aged Ten FIDY and Java Ten FIDY. The team at Oskar Blues didn’t stop there, recently launching Pinner Throwback IPA in new packaging – resulting in the first American craft beer 16-pack**.
Ancillary brands also saw growth, including four new flavors of B. Stiff & Sons Old Fashioned Soda Pop and the launch of new Oskar Blues Fooderies concepts in its home market of ColoRADo, which includes a CHUBurger/Hotbox Roasters Café brick and mortar location in the RiNo district of Denver.
Oskar Blues Holding Company, a strong group of craft brewers, including Wasatch Brewery, Squatters Brewery and Perrin Brewing furthered its mission to maintain symbiotic partnerships with like-minded craft brewers across the country with the addition of Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing. While Dales Pale Ale is the bestselling craft can 6-pack in the U.S., Cigar City has the number two spot, with Jai Alai IPA. Oskar Blues Holdings grew collectively to nearly 350,000 barrels and is the number two overall craft can vendor and number 15 overall in total U.S. Food. That’s a particularly good spot to be in, as craft cans have been up 55% over the last 52 weeks.
Oskar Blues continued to spread do-goodery with its nonprofit arm, CAN’d Aid Foundation. In 2016 alone, the organization raised $768,000, built & donated nearly 600 bikes to underprivileged children, put 100 instruments in budding musician’s hands, recycled 155,000 lbs. of waste through its #CrushItCrusade and donated 330,000 cans of drinking water to areas in need including Flint, Michigan during its water crisis. Soul-founder of Oskar Blues Dale Katechis founded CAN’d Aid in 2013 following the Colorado flooding that devastated Oskar Blues Brewery’s hometown in Lyons, Colorado. To date, over $2.6 million has been raised to support its efforts.
As for 2017, Oskar Blues has already set its sights on further growth, celebrating the 20th year of what started as a funky little brewpub in Lyons, CO in 1997. International markets to launch distribution in include Brazil and Japan. The brew team, not to be outdone by 2016, has announced the limited release of Hotbox Coffee IPA cans in March as well as a CANspiracy rare beer club at the North Carolina and Colorado Tasty Weasel Taprooms. The Oskar Blues Fooderies restaurant group has already announced a Colorado Springs, CO location that will expand its footprint to over nine locations in 2017.
**Data Source & Set IRI Data, 2016 52 WEEKS TTL US FOOD.