Tour de brew: Oskar Blues Brewery

A revolution from inside a can

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Thomas Appel (left) and Jeremy Farmer (right) get down to work at the Weasel Tasting room in Longmont.
Susan France

There is plenty to discover at Oskar Blues Brewery, but glass bottles aren’t one of them. Here, cans are king and have been for over a decade. Dale Katechis opened Oskar Blues Brewpub — named after two friends, Oskar and Old Blue, whom he met on a bike tour — in 1997 in Lyons, and within two years he was brewing beer out of the basement, which amounted to 340 barrels. As of 2015, Oskar Blues is up to 192,000 barrels in production and has state-of-the-art breweries in Longmont; Brevard, North Carolina; and Austin, Texas. Business, as they say, is booming.

But you know all this already. Oskar Blues is a staple in the Colorado craft beer scene and you’ve probably put down enough Dale’s Pale Ale in your day to keep OB’s lights on for a year. You might have even dined at their home base in Lyons, at Home Made Liquids and Solids, CYCLEHOPS Bike CANtina or CHUBburger — all three in Longmont with a Denver Chub on the way — but have you visited their Longmont brewing facility and tap room, Tasty Weasel? You can hardly call yourself an OB fan if you haven’t.

That’s because Tasty Weasel is much more than a taproom; it’s a chance to see how the sausage is made. The facility is massive, and offers guided tours on a daily basis. Weekend tours, especially in the winter, allow patrons a quieter look at how OB turns grains and fresh Colorado water into ales and lagers. But if you want the racket and hubbub of production, weekday tours are loud and active and the whole process from sack to can is laid out in a matter of minutes.

And now that you know how it all goes down, you’ll appreciate what comes out of the tap even more. If you’re looking for the standards — Dale’s Pale Ale (6.5% ABV), Mama’s Little Yella Pils (5.3%), Pinner IPA (4.9%) — then they’ll be the freshest you can find. But OB’s tap list climbs well into the double digits, and here is where you need to experiment with Jenny’s Scream Ale (5.1%), a light and smooth nitro cream ale, and Priscilla White Wit Wheat (5.2%), light with a lovely bready bite.

Death By Coconut (6.5%) is a magnificent Irish porter with plenty of chewy coconut, but Tasty Weasel also features the brew aged in a rum barrel, which pumps up the octane to 11.5% and smooths out the sweetness with the flavor of cocoa and roasted cane sugar. If Death By Coconut is like drinking a Samoa cookie, then the rum barrel-aged version is like biting into a slice of coconut cream pie, caramelized sugars and all.

Death By Coconut isn’t the only rum barrel-aged brew on tap, and thankfully you won’t have to stay here all day to work your way through them. Anything they have on tap is capable of going home in one of their “Crowlers,” a 32 oz. can that they seal for you on the premises. Going to a dinner party? Forget that bottle of wine and take a Crowler of Death by Coconut instead. Your friends will love you.

On tap: Oskar Blues Tasty Weasel Tap Room1800 Pike Road, Longmont, 303-776-1914.