Hello Beer Friends Nation!
Recently the trend in craft brewing has been cans instead of bottles. This is a point of high contention amongst the Beer Friends and we have a 6 month running conversation about why switch to cans, why not start with cans, whats the stereotype/stigma behind cans, etc... While in Colorado we visited one of the leaders in the Craft Can Beer revolution, Oskar Blues, then hung out, took a tour and gained more ammo for the Cans vs Bottles conversation. Now Oskar Blues produces some pretty high quality beers - here is the Beer Friends take on same:
Dale's Pale Ale: Although one Beer Friend used to be against this beer, he has come around in full force. Pale Ale can be a bit drab and focused on the plainness of the taste. However in our brewery travels we have found some high quality Pale Ale's and Dale's Pale Ale fits perfectly in this high quality pale ale category. The amount of hops used seems to make it a stretch that this is a true "pale ale", but we're going by what's listed on the can!
Ten Fidy Imperial Stout: If any beer is strange to drink from a can it's a stout. Even the Guinness in a can you need to pour into a glass for the widget to create and manage the head. The Ten Fidy is a pretty decent stout and even has a few awards under it's belt (including the Gold Medal in the 2010 World Beer Championships).
Gubna Imperial IPA: At 10% ABV this Imperial IPA has a real kick from the can. This has a 100 IBU rating but the citrus hops used hit the tongue at the beginning and calms the bitterness while the two other hops kick in, taking the taste buds on quite a ride.
The tour that the Oskar Blues staff gave us was one of my favorites while in Colorado. We started in the tap room, which is located in a walled room without a ceiling, so that you are enjoying your beer among the sounds and smells of a working brewery. After having a couple beers we were summoned to join the tour group. The tour guide was very friendly and funny, putting entertaining spins on the usual information you get at a brewery, while also spilling some interesting Oskar Blues info and answering some interesting group questions on the brewing process of specific Oskar Blues Brews.
One of my favorite parts on the tour involved the canning part of Oskar Blue's operation. Since all of Oskar Blue's brews come in cans, there isn't a bottling line in sight, only a canning line. Canning has received some criticism in the craft brew world, but many breweries are starting to come around to the idea, with breweries like Oskar Blues leading the way. The tour guide had some interesting arguments in support of cans including debunking the myth of aluminum taste (there's a silicate barrier inside the can preventing the beer and aluminum from ever touching), the ease and efficiency of recycling cans over bottles, the amount of light penetration that a can allows compared to the bottle (0% - eat that Sam Adams!) and the fact that if you enjoy draft beer, then you're already okay with cans...giant aluminum cans (kegs).
It was also interesting to watch the canning line at work. The best part being when a not-totally-full can passes over a scale and is punched off the line, quite dramatically into a bin. The almost-totally-full cans are then given to the tour group to drink. I'll tell you what Oskar Blues, your brews are so good that I'd be down with being employed to take those cans off your hands permanently. What'dya think?
All-in-all Oskar Blues was a great brewery to visit and tour. They gave us some insights into things we knew little about and they gave us good free beer. So don't be afraid of the can and head on over the next time your in their area!
The Oskar Blues Brewery is located at: 1800 Pike Road Longmont, CO 80501
The Tap Room Hours are:
Monday - Friday: 3p - 8p
Saturday and Sunday: 12p - 7p
Tours are held: Friday at 3:30, 4:30, and 5:30p and Saturday and Sunday at 2, 3, and 4p