Oskar Blues smil­ing from ear to Beer­ito

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Jerd Smith

Cre­at­ing beers us­ing only re­gional in­gre­di­ents is a thing — more a thing than ever.

And when the Wall Street Jour­nal took a road trip across Amer­ica this year to iden­tify the most in­ter­est­ing re­gional brews, it found Oskar Blue’s Beer­ito, a low-al­co­hol lager first made to com­mem­o­rate the open­ing of a com­pany restau­rant, the cy­clist-friendly Cy­clhops Bike Cantina in Long­mont.

How stiff was the com­pe­ti­tion? Well, the Boul­der-based Brew­ers As­so­ci­a­tion lists about 3,500 craft brew­ers na­tion­wide as mem­bers, and more than 490 of those call Colorado home. The Jour­nal chose 21 beers for its list.

To win no­tice in that busy pool of con­tes­tants “is great,” said Oskar Blues spokesman Jeremy Farmer.

The Rocky Moun­tain re­gion is get­ting in­creas­ing at­ten­tion for its for lowal­co­hol lagers, beers that al­low peo­ple to drink two or three in a ses­sion with­out get­ting drunk or feel­ing full.

The Wall Street Jour­nal de­scribed Beer­ito, which is 4 per­cent al­co­hol by vol­ume, as “hav­ing the earthy chew of good corn masa, like a hand­made tor­tilla.”

Oskar Blues cre­ated Beer­ito in part­ner­ship with another re­gional player, Troubadour Malt­ing in Fort Collins, a malt com­pany known for cul­ti­vat­ing re­gional grains, in this case bar­ley, with lo­ca­tion-in­tense char­ac­ter­is­tics.

“It def­i­nitely has that sort of bis­cuit­bread taste to it,” Farmer said. “The beer fits the fla­vor of those grains.”

Troubadour co-owner Chris Schoo­ley said his 18-month-old com­pany works with about 30 craft brew­ers, se­lect­ing bar­ley and wheat strains that are then sub­jected to the malt­ing process, which im­bues them with dif­fer­ent fla­vors and col­ors.

The bar­ley used for Beer­ito is a new va­ri­ety, Schoo­ley said, “that has proven to be re­ally good for mak­ing fla­vor­ful beers.”

Two other Colorado beers also made the Jour­nal’s list. Ska Brew­ing was rec­og­nized for its Ska Mex­i­can Log­ger, and Carver Brew­ing Co. for its Light­ner Creek Lager. Both are based in Du­rango. Those two beers also won awards at the Great Amer­i­can Beer Fes­ti­val.

Beer­ito hasn’t won that dis­tinc­tion yet. Oskar Blues just started can­ning it this year. But that doesn’t take away the fun of the men­tion in the Jour­nal, Farmer said.

“We work re­ally hard on th­ese beers, so any­time we get that kind of na­tional recog­ni­tion it helps re­in­force that we’re try­ing to make the coolest stuff we can.”

Bar­tender Lu­cas Green pours a beer at the Oskar Blues restau­rant in Long­mont. The brewer makes Beer­ito, a lowal­co­hol lager rec­og­nized by The Wall Street Jour­nal as an in­ter­est­ing re­gional beer. He­len H. Richard­son, Den­ver Post file

Matthew Jonas, Daily Cam­era

Kelsy Colvin pours a taster of beer for a cus­tomer at the Tasty Weasel, an Oskar Blues lo­ca­tion in Long­mont, on Tues­day.

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