Last night in Charleston, I ran into John Gartner, Oskar Blues Brewery’s east coast market manager, and came away with a plethora of newsy items from this popular brewery with a base in Appalachia.
The brewery is on a roll in 2017 after finishing 2016 strong with over 200,000 barrels shipped. Now sold in all 50 states, it undertook a 21,000 sq. ft. expansion to its Brevard, NC, brewing facility, from which West Virginia is supplied. Earlier this year, the Oscar Blues owners completed the purchase of a majority interest in Tampa’s premier Cigar City Brewing Company. This past January, the Brewers Association ranked Oskar Blues as the 10th largest independent craft brewery in the nation. These guys are rocking.
15th anniversary Dale’s
This summer, Oskar Blues Brewery celebrates the 15th anniversary of Dale’s Pale Ale by releasing the beer in a limited edition series of 16 oz cans with three different images on the packages. The brewery says it collaborated with avant-garde illustrator McBess to create the three different graphics for the cans that “embody a shared enthusiasm for the outdoors, music and craft beer.”
When all three of the cans are lined up side by side, they create a single larger image that depicts Oskar Blues’ unlikely and irreverent journey from mountain town brewpub to craft beer pioneer. The series starts (from right to left in the image above) where it all began, Lyons, Colorado, including a depiction of the original can of Dale’s Pale Ale. It then progresses to the mountain bike haven of Western North Carolina, and onto the live music capital of the world in Austin, Texas.
According to John Gartner, the three cans “will 100 percent come to West Virginia.” He says we’re looking at a mid-June arrival here. Industry data giant IRI calls Dale’s Pale Ale America’s craft beer sales leader for canned six-packs at supermarkets.
Gartner also said to be on the lookout for the upcoming summer seasonal, creatively titled Fugli, a yuzu and ugli fruit-flavored IPA.
“The fruits were chosen to harmonize with the Mosaic hop,” he said. “The idea for the beer came from a collaboration the brewery did with Japan’s Yo-Ho Brewing Company last year.”
Oskar Blues describes it as a ” juicy, fresh and aromatic” IPA that comes in at 5.8% ABV and 60 IBUs, making it “immensely crushable for wherever summer takes ya.”
The brewery says Fugli consists of an uncommon cross-continental combination. Yuzu is an exotic, tangy dumpy looking lemon from Japan. Living up to its name, Jamaican ugli fruit is an aesthetic nightmare with a surprisingly tasty tangerine-and-grapefruit flavor. Rangpur, grown in Bangladesh, is a lemon and orange hybrid.
National availability covers May through August in canned six-packs and draught.
Oskar Blues rep to attend Foam at the Dome
Oskar Blues will send a brewery representative to Foam at the Dome craft beer festival, taking place in Charleston on May 13, but it won’t be Gartner this year. Gartner’s increased responsibilities with the company are precluding his attendance.
He will be sending their Washington DC Mid-Atlantic market manager to represent the brewery at the festival. He promises they will bring the same fun attitude that their fans have come to expect. And some good beer too.
Gartner recently moved to Boston, but says he will not give up the West Virginia market. We should expect to continue seeing him in the state, maybe just not as often.
Oskar Blues tap takeover at Pie & Pints
Gartner was in town to host a Wednesday night tap takeover at the Charleston WV Pies & Pints store. The place was packed and folks really seemed to enjoy the variety of beers, with everything from heavies Ten Fidy and the Gubna to the lighter Pinner and Beerito.
As usual, P&P bar manager Devin Fields kept the brews flowing and helped everyone have a great time. Devin’s work at Pies has kept the bar in the top echelon of craft beer retailers in West Virginia.
A shout out is also due for distributor Mountain State Beverage and on-premise sales manager Todd Moore for helping make this bar promotion possible. If you are a regular reader of these posts, you know that Brilliant Stream believes in bar promotions as an important strategy for expanding craft beer’s influence and market share.