Oskar Blues came to fame in 2002 as the brewery that kick-started the canned craft beer revolution when founder Dale Katechis launched his iconic Dale’s Pale Ale.
Right now, though, the Lyons, Colo.-based company is busy making sure that consumers around the Southeast know that the Dale’s they’re drinking is being brewed in North Carolina, along with many other beers in the Oskar Blues portfolio.
On New Year’s Eve 2012, Katechis, an Alabama native and Auburn grad, opened a new brewery in Brevard, N.C., south of Asheville. Since then, Dale’s has been flying off the canning line and making it to store shelves in an updated can that includes the words “Mountain Pale Ale” and “Brevard, North Carolina.”
Recently, Oskar Blues Brevard marketing director Anne-Fitten Glenn visited Atlanta with a crew of Southeastern sales reps on a mission to bring more beer to the Peach State.
Glenn, a longtime journalist who grew up in Atlanta and graduated from Georgia, has been living in Asheville and writing about the beer scene there for years. Last fall, her book “Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Mountain Brewing” (American Palate, $16.99) was published by a division of the History Press.
Clearly excited by being in the beer business now, Glenn said Brevard, a small town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a perfect fit for Oskar Blues.
“It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, which is why Dale wanted to open a brewery there,” Glenn said. “The area attracts people who are into outdoor activities like hiking and rafting, and that’s always been important to Dale, because he’s a mountain biker.”
Glenn reports that brewery tours, which run seven days a week, have become a popular attraction in the area. The brewery even offers free trolley rides between Brevard and Asheville on Saturdays and Sundays. And the tasting room, also open seven days a week, has become a place for the Oskar Blues Brevard brewers to showcase special kegs and firkins to the delight of eager beer geeks.
“They’ve been doing all kinds of funky stuff,” Glenn said. “They did a raspberry-chipotle Ten Fidy recently and a cask of a mega-hopped IPA and a sour aged in wine barrels.”
As far as Oskar Blues signature beers, Glenn said that in ongoing side-by-side taste tests, the North Carolina-brewed versions compare favorably to the Colorado-brewed versions.
“The North Carolina beers are really good,” Glenn said. “They’re not exactly the same, but we decided that was OK. There’s a North Carolina Dale’s and there’s a Colorado Dale’s, and they’re both really good quality.”
Dale’s Pale Ale
Oskar Blues Brewery, Brevard, N.C.
$8.99-$9.99/ six-pack cans
Profile: Dale’s has always struck me as a nice mix of hoppy citrus and pine notes with a backdrop of caramel malt for balance. But sometimes the bitterness played a little too forward for a pale ale. Trying the Brevard-brewed version, the bitterness seemed a bit more more integrated and the beer had a pleasing brightness.
Pair with: With its hoppy aromas and flavors, Dale’s makes a good companion for bright and spicy foods. Try it with with banh mi, summer rolls, curried chicken salad or pork barbecue.
Have you tried the North Carolina Dale’s? What do you think?
— Bob Townsend, for the AJC Drink blog.