Beer Man

Nice package: Oskar Blues sticks its latest beer, Chaka, in an aluminum bottle

Is it a can? Is it a bottle? Does it even matter?

Today Oskar Blues unveiled its newest packaging experiment: a resealable, sixteen-ounce aluminum bottle made by Ball Corporation in Golden. The container will be used for Chaka, an extremely limited-release, Belgian-style pale ale that Oskar Blues created earlier this year in collaboration with Indianapolis's Sun King Brewing; the beer is only available at the Tasty Weasel Taproom in Longmont.

[jump] But the container will see a much larger distribution with B. Stiff & Sons Old Fashioned Rootbeer, which the brewery has been making for several years but renamed in honor of Brian Stiff, a Lyons-area friend of the brewery who died recently, leaving behind his wife and two children. Oskar Blues sells the root beer at its three restaurants as well as its food truck, and has plans to distribute it to other restaurants in Colorado.

"It's a couple things," says Oskar Blues spokesman Chad Melis of the new package. "We want to stay engaged and continue to push the envelope and find new ways to take advantage of all the things that the aluminum can has to offer."

Beer drinkers may recognize the package from commercials that MillerCoors has been running recently, which feature the bottle, er, can being launched into space like a rocket ship; the containers are also sold at Coors Field and other large venues.

"We have not broken the current atmosphere with this package," Melis points out, in reference to Coors.

Ball Corporation, which also makes cans for Oskar Blues, has told the company that it is the first craft brewery to use the package, known as Alumi-Tek.

As for Chaka, only twenty barrels were made -- at the brewery's Lyons facility (Sun King brewed a second batch that will be sold in Indiana). Some of it will be sold for on-premise drinking at the brewery's restaurants, while a very limited quantity will be available to go in six-packs, at $15.99, at the Tasty Weasel beginning today.

Melis recommends that people pour the 8 percent ABV beer into a glass and let it breathe -- "unless," he adds, "you're going out for a bike ride. Bike jerseys have three pockets, and I'd recommend putting a Chaka in one of them."

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes