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Not your father's can o' beer

Oskar Blues' Dale's Pale Ale is "an aromatically hoppy American pale ale, crisp and tasty at 6 percent alcohol by volume," according to the company.
By Paul Iiams
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday March 6, 2003

Colorado brewers use Arizona as test market for microbrew in a can

There are certain perceptions that have become the norm when it comes to drinking beer. One major perception is that beer in a can doesn't taste as good as beer in a bottle. However, Oskar Blues is trying to change that notion with the release of Dale's Pale Ale ¸ the first microbrew in a can.

The brewery, located in Lyons, Colorado, has used Arizona as its test market for the new beer. According to Dale Katechis, owner of the company, Arizona was a logical location.

"Arizona has more golfers, boaters and outdoor enthusiasts per capita than any other state in America," he said. "The craft beer movement is also growing in Arizona. We want to be a part of Arizona's growing beer culture."

The idea that canned beer doesn't taste as good as bottled beer is one that Katechis and brewmaster Brian Lutz kept in mind from the beginning. They designed Dale's Pale Ale cans with a polymer-lined interior, so the beer actually never touches metal. This, according to the press release put out by Oskar Blues, eliminates potential complaints about the beer tasting metallic.

The beer canning is a very meticulous process. The beer is brewed in a six-barrel system and then canned by hand, two cans at a time. So, why put a craft beer in a can? Katechis remembered when the idea first came up.

"Like so many great ideas, it came to us over a couple beers," he said. "We laughed our heads off ¸ it sounded so ridiculous. But once we quit giggling, canning started to seem really appealing."

According to Katechis, putting beer into cans will make travel much easier for the outdoor enthusiast. The cans are more portable, much less breakable, and easier to carry when they are empty. They also eliminate the risk of light damage, which makes the beer break down, and reduce exposure to oxygen, which makes beer become stale.

Sure, you might be thinking, cans are easier to carry. But what about the taste? Katechis certainly has his opinions on the can versus bottle debate.

"People expect canned beer to be very low on flavor and character," he said. "Dale's Pale Ale kicks a hole in that thinking because it's bold, assertive canned beer for serious beer fiends."

As owner, Katechis's view might be a little skewed. The true test comes with the people that count most ¸ the beer buyers of Arizona.

"It definitely makes it easier to drink," Rich Komant, a psychology senior, said after trying the beer. "I could get used to this."

Komant's sentiments are exactly what Katechis is looking for in a beer-buying customer.

"(We are looking for) people who crave gonzo, thrilling, uncompromising beer," he said. "People who want the most out of life and their beer."

Mark Thomson, owner of Plaza Liquors, 2642 N. Campbell Ave., said that a tasting held for Dale's at his store went very well.

"I like the concept," he said. "It's the best beer I have tasted in a can."

Thompson went on to laud the idea of a microbrew available in a can.

"If you want cans, you are limited in your choices," he said. "With Dale's, you can drink great beer under any circumstances."

Arizona and Colorado aren't the only areas Dale's Pale Ale is available. The beer can be found on all Frontier Airlines flights and will soon be making its debut on other airlines. In order to accommodate the influx of business (Oskar Blues only brewed 750 barrels of beer last year), the brewery will soon be expanding as well. This expansion, according to Katechis, will not only help meet the current demand for Dale's, but help it enter more markets in the west. But even that won't satisfy Katechis.

"We've got some other things in the works, too, things that'll help us keep pushing the canned beer boundaries," he said.

One of these "beer boundaries" might be distributing them in bars. Currently, Dale's is sold at the Grill and, according to Katechis, it will soon be available in more bars around campus and in the Tucson area. He even has an answer for those who like to drink beer from a glass.

"You can still do that, too," he said. "Just pour it in your glass."

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