It seems you can't trip through a neighborhood in Chicago without coming across a new brewery. Our capacity for craft beer seems boundless, and the collaborations among breweries and chefs proves that this particular beverage invites cooperation, not competition. The Windy City is one giant kegger, but only microbreweries get tapped and any canned beers better be worth their weight in bottles.
It's no wonder that Colorado's Oskar Blues Brewery wants to join in the fun. Ten years ago they became the first craft brewery to put their beers in cans. From the original Dale's Pale Ale to the Ten Fidy Russian Imperial Stout (98 IBU's!!!), their hop-centric brews are complex, flavorful, and diverse. They're into cycling (check), sustainability (check), and don't take themselves too seriously (check). In other words, they'd fit right in.
Last month they crashed our local brewfest party like a politician right before an election - they were everywhere. But instead of kissing babies and shaking hands, they took over taps and gave tastings at Binny's and paired their beers with our amazing cuisine.
Apparently we like them, because Bob Collins of Windy City Distribution said “To my knowledge, this is the largest Chicagoland craft beer launch ever."
This doesn't surprise me. They sent me a sampler of their beers before they arrived, and then at their five-course pairing dinner at SmallBar Division I had the opportunity to try their seventh. As the founder of AlphaBeer I've tried a lot of beers. We've had nine of those events, and with 26 beers per event and little duplication, I've tried a LOT of beers. And you know what? Oskar Blues can crash that party, too.
Welcome to Chicago.
Check out my chat with Head Brewmaster Dave Chichura as we talk about cans, compost, bikes, and brews that are Brobdingnagian.