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Oskar Blues Brewery's new canning line is now in operation

Oskar Blues Brewery's new canning line is now in operation, doubling the brewery's production speed. The new machine is two stories high, about 30 yards long and about 20 yards wide, allowing it for the first time ever to sell its beers in 16-ounce cans.

Deviant Dale's IPA, the brewery's first new year-round beer in two years, is the first of the company's brews to be put into tallboys. Deviant Dale's took silver at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival in the American IPA category, which was the most competitive one at the festival. According to the brewery literature:

"Deviant Dale's resinous, grapefruit flavor is nicely supported by a pronounced malt base that lets layers of flavor shine through in an unfussy, straightforward presentation. "

The 59,000 barrels of beer it produced in 2011 was a 17,000-barrel increase over 2010. That increase was equal to the total the brewery produced in 2008, the year Oskar Blues relocated its headquarters to Longmont from Lyons.

The new machine is basically a scaled-down version of the machine used by Anheuser-Busch InBev and Miller-Coors. And it's made in America. Germany-based KHS built the machine at its plant in the land of Beer & Cheese...

Waukesha, Wis.

Installation of the new machine cost about $2 million. And last Friday was only the second time the machine had done a run of 16-ounce cans of Deviant Dale's, and a few kinks still needed to be worked out. From the point where the cans are loaded onto the belt to the point where the machine is spitting out boxed-up cases of the finished product, there are sensor points that can shut down the machine completely should anything go awry.

Oskar Blues employs about 65 at its Longmont brewery and another 18 as salespeople in Colorado and elsewhere. Their beers, which include 'Gubna, the last year-round beer that was introduced two years ago; Mama's Little Yella Pils; and its flagship Dale's Pale Ale, named after founder Dale Katechis, are now available in 26 states, as well as the Scandinavian region and in Sweden!

As for the Tasty Weasel Tap Room, which lost some square footage with the installation of the new canning line, Melis said Katechis is in negotiations with the city to blow some walls out and extend the Weasel to the north and east, and add some outdoor seating.

Now people can get a taste of Deviant Dale's outside of Boulder County when it goes on tap at all 25 of Colorado's Old Chicago restaurants Wednesday through the end of February. It's the first exclusive release in what will be an ongoing collaboration with local and regional breweries to help spread the word about the creative and tasty beers being brewed in Colorado.

Louisville-based Rock Bottom Restaurants Inc., which includes the Old Chicago, ChopHouse, and Rock Bottom brands, merged with the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group in November to create CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries Inc.

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