Beer Man

Here's What Monster Energy Bought From Oskar Blues — and What It Didn't

Oskar Blues Homemade Liquid and Solids in Longmont is still owned by Dale Katechis.
Oskar Blues Homemade Liquid and Solids in Longmont is still owned by Dale Katechis. Oskar Blues Fooderies
Dale Katechis is philosophical about the growth and evolution of Oskar Blues Brewing — and its sale three weeks ago to Monster Energy. “Oskar Blues was my first kid. I started it before I had kids, so in a lot of ways, it was my first child,” he says. “It has been exciting to see them grow up, but like kids do, they go off to school. I think it's in great hands. I hope they do great things with it.”

But Katechis, who founded Oskar Blues as a restaurant in 1997 before adding what would become his revolutionary can-forward brewery in 2004, isn’t an empty-nester yet. He still has a kid living at home in the form of Oskar Blues Fooderies, the part of the company that Monster didn’t buy.

“Those did not go with the Monster deal, so our plan is to continue to operate and run those businesses — and hopefully things bounce back after COVID,” he says.

Here are the Colorado parts of Oskar Blues that Monster bought when it acquired Canarchy, the former parent company for Oskar Blues and five other craft breweries, for $330 million: the huge production brewery and the Tasty Weasel Taproom in Longmont; the brewing half of the original Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in Lyons, which is located in a building adjacent to the restaurant there; and the Boulder restaurant and taproom, which is a part of the production facility’s license.
click to enlarge Dale Katechis (left) pours beer at GABF in 2017. - OSKAR BLUES
Dale Katechis (left) pours beer at GABF in 2017.
Oskar Blues
Here’s what the Katechis family and Oskar Blues Fooderies managing partner Jayson Clark retained: the restaurant half of the original location in Lyons; Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids in Longmont; the restaurant and music venue in Denver; and the restaurant in Colorado Springs.

The brewery and Oskar Blues Fooderies were separate business entities already, even after Fireman Capital Partners, the private equity firm that created Canarchy, acquired a majority share of Oskar Blues in 2015 — though they acted as a seamless unit from an outside perspective.

And nothing should change from the consumer’s point of view now that the energy drink maker has taken over — because, Katechis says, he has licensed the name "Oskar Blues" back from Monster indefinitely in order to continue to run the restaurants. So the names of the restaurants and their look will stay the same, and Dale’s Pale Ale will continue to flow from the taps in voluminous fashion.
click to enlarge Dale's Pale Ale gets its first new look in fifteen years. - OSKAR BLUES
Dale's Pale Ale gets its first new look in fifteen years.
Oskar Blues
Furthermore, “there have been no talks or discussions of Monster making any changes [in Lyons and Boulder],” Katechis adds. “To the best of my understanding, the management team at the brewery will stay intact and continue to do what it's been doing.”

Canarchy — now a part of Monster — declined to comment on anything having to do with the sale, saying it is waiting until the deal officially closes, probably some time in mid-February.

Of course, that means Katechis is now stuck with some of the same challenges as every other restaurateur in Colorado: COVID-19, supply-chain troubles, squeamish customers and staffing shortages that are a result of both the Great Resignation and of employees getting sick themselves.

“Colorado Springs is doing great. We've kind of rebounded there, though it certainly was a tough go for a while," he explains. "On Market Street in Denver, we're still fighting the good fight. It’s a challenge down there for a lot of folks, but we're still invested in it. And Lyons and Longmont have rebounded almost to pre-COVID numbers. All in all, it was a slog, but we got through it.

"Now the biggest problem is that staffing hasn’t rebounded," he says. "A lot of people [in the restaurant business] had this sort of awakening and said they wanted to go do something else."
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes