When the crew at Oskar Blues Brewery decided to locate their newest brewpub in Austin, it was not because of Austin's rapidly-growing population or proximity to major highways—it was because they simply loved the city’s culture, Marketing Director Chad Melis said.
The new Oskar Blues Brewery located at 10420 Metric Blvd. is scheduled to open in early May. Melis said leaders in the company were drawn to Austin’s emphasis on the outdoors and music as well as its energetic craft beer scene.
“I think we just want to contribute to that [scene] ... and add our version of that culture to the area,” he said.
Founder Dale Katechis opened the first Oskar Blues restaurant in Lyons, Colorado in 1997. Melis, who still lives in Lyons, said the population is only about 1,500, but the town is a destination for artists, musicians, kayakers and mountain bikers.
Melis said demand soon outgrew what the company could produce in Lyons, so it opened a second location in nearby Longmont, Colorado. Later, it opened a brewpub in Brevard, North Carolina—another town centered around music, craft beer and the outdoors, Melis said.
“We figured, ‘Let’s go where we want to spend time,’” he said.
In deciding its next location, Melis said the Oskar Blues team visited places in California, Florida and the Northeast. But in Austin, he said, they found the vibe they were looking for.
Despite Oskar Blues’ ever-growing need for more capacity, Melis said the priority at all the brewpubs is to keep an open-door policy with the community.
“That one-on-one mentality … drives our want to stay small,” he said. “Our biggest priority is holding on to our grassroots culture and where we came from.”
Michael Harris, formerly of St. Arnold Brewing Co., will lead the team of brewers at the new facility, including Luke Burcham, also of St. Arnold; Joey McGill of Independence Brewing Co.; Zach Woodward, from Oskar Blues’ Brevard location; and Brian Roye and Jeff Frankenfelt of Oskar Blues’ Longmont location, Melis said.
The Burning Can Beer Fest includes a 5K and benefits Oskar Blues' philanthropic efforts.[/caption]
CAN’d Aid, the philanthropic arm of the brewery, was formed after massive floods hit Lyons and Longmont in September 2013, Melis said. Through various programs, the nonprofit continues to donate to youth, environmental, music education and disaster relief efforts.
Through CAN’d Aid, the brewery delivered thousands of cans of water to towns ravaged by a tornado in North Texas in 2015. Earlier this year, it donated thousands more to residents of Flint, Michigan who had been living without fresh water.
Oskar Blues is throwing two CAN’d Aid benefits in Austin prior to the opening of its new brewery. The Scoot Inn Smoke Out will take place at the historic venue on East Fourth Street on April 20. The event includes music performances by J. Roddy Walston and The Business and Nikki Lane.
The Burning Can Beer Fest on April 23 at the Walter E. Long Park includes live music by the Drive-By Truckers, a 5K race, a mountain bike demo by Jeff Lenosky and more than 30 varieties of canned beer from craft breweries across the country.