Oskar Blues And Windy City Distribution Host Largest Chicagoland Craft Beer Launch Ever

Oskar Blues continued its impressive growth in 2012 with the largest Chicago launch of any craft brewer to date.

The Longmont, Colo.- based craft brewer moved over 5,000 cases during its first five days in the craft-savvy Chicago area. The successful launch of the brand in the midwest coincides with an announcement from Birmingham Beverage Co. – Oskar Blues’ distributor in Alabama – that the entire brewery’s portfolio will soon be available in the southern state. 

Oskar Blues still anticipates producing 90,000 barrels of beer this year, up from 59,000 in 2011.

The full release from Oskar Blues is below.

LONGMONT, CO – Colorado-based Oskar Blues Brewery, the first craft brewery in the country to put craft beer in a can in November 2002, continued its explosive growth when it launched the in the Chicagoland area through Windy City Distribution the week of August 20, 2012.

“To my knowledge, this is the largest Chicagoland craft beer launch ever,” says Bob Collins, president of Windy City Distribution. “Our data puts initial depletions for Oskar Blues in the Chicago area at over 5,000 case equivalents in the first five days of availability. It says a lot about the quality of Oskar Blues’ beer and their fun loving attitude that a craft beer town like Chicago has embraced it with open arms.”

In addition, 350 accounts within an eight county area around Chicago joined the Oskar Blues fold including Chicago-area Binny’s, SmallBar Division, Fountainhead and Bavarian Lodge among others who hosted nearly 70 events in the first week.

“We’ve been fired up about Chicago for a while but we’re floored by the greeting and the first week.  The Chicagoland response has been a form of insanity, Fuh-CAN-A,” says Dale Katechis, Oskar Blues sole-founder. 

The historic Chicagoland launch marks Oskar Blues’ second new state in as many months; as the company experienced similar success in Alabama in July. This news comes on the heels of Oskar Blues recently posting a 53 percent increase in revenue and 48 percent increase in depletions in its established markets over the first six months of 2012, outpacing industry growth by nearly 40 percent. This follows seven years of explosive growth which catapulted Oskar Blues to one of the three “Biggest Momentum Gainers” on the Brewers Association annual Top 50 Craft Brewers List this past spring and grabbed them the Denver Business Journal’s “Fastest Growing Private Companies” in August.

Oskar Blues was embraced by Chicago’s beer aficionados, including Chicago Tribune, Reader, Chicagoist, GapersBlock and The Beeronaut.

Oskar Blues’ continued growth is a result of $3.5 million in improvements to its Longmont, CO facility in 2012, which has allowed the company to expand distribution. Oskar Blues has grown to become the largest American craft brewery to package beer exclusively in cans, producing 59,000 barrels of beer in 2011, and is on pace for 90,000 barrels in 2012. 

The most recent Longmont, CO improvements include 14 additional 200-barrel fermenters and two 400-barrel bright beer tanks.  A new canning line capable of filling 300 cans per minute and multiple can sizes has added to the revenue and volume increases.

Oskar Blues will also begin brewing at its new Brevard, NC brewery and taproom in December 2012, which will include a separate restaurant and live music venue in the small town as well.  The addition of the 30,000 sq. foot Brevard brewery is expected to brew 40,000 barrels in 2013 and increase brewery capacity to 140,000 BBLS.

About Oskar Blues Brewery

Founded by Dale Katechis in 1997 as a brewpub and grill, Oskar Blues Brewery launched their craft-brewed beer canning operations in 2002 in Lyons, Colo. They were the first American craft brewery to can their beer. Today there are more than 180 craft breweries canning their beers. The original crew used a hand-canning line on a tabletop machine that sealed one can at a time. Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont packaged 41,000 barrels in 2010 and grew to 59,000 in 2011. Visit www.oskarblues.com for more information.