The 2014 baseball season didn't work out so well for the Colorado Rockies, but it was a grand slam for Oskar Blues, which sold nearly 50,000 burgers at the CHUburger restaurant on the new rooftop deck at Coors Field. The location also poured 43,000 beers, although that total was split between two Oskar Blues offerings, Dale's Pale Ale and Mama's Little Yella Pils, and Coors and Coors Light, which flow like water at that stadium.
"It had a great feel and we had a great time up there," says Oskar Blues spokesman Chad Melis, adding that the company may try to expand its menu slightly for the 2015 season with a chicken sandwich. "I think we got past the learning curve."
Founded in Lyons, Oskar Blues, which is now based in Longmont, was the first craft brewery to can beer in 2004, and is one of Colorado's most well-known and fiercely independent craft breweries, which is why the partnership with a stadium named after one of the nation's most iconic mass-produced beers made for an unusual partnership.
Rather than focus on its beer, though, CHUburger, whose original location is in Longmont, pushed the restaurant side of its business -- one that starts with Colorado-raised grass-fed beef, fresh fries and a chef-driven menu.
"I think we engaged people very well and helped create an iconic Colorado experience on the deck," Melis says. "Baseball fans got an opportunity to hear about Oskar Blues and our story of being an authentic Colorado brand."
But CHUburger -- whose motto is "Craft Casual" -- is also an obvious outlet for the brewery's beer in Longmont. At Coors Field, it only served two Oskar Blues beers.
Will that change in 2015? Melis avoids addressing that delicate subject aside from saying that "craft beer is a really important part of the craft experience. We are looking to build on that experience."
Coors Field added the 38,000-square-foot, two-story party deck in right field before the start of the season. The Rooftop cost about $10 million and came at the expense of 3,500 rarely-used seats. In addition to CHUBurger, the deck has an outpost of the local Tavern chain that has 52 beer taps.
Oskar Blues's ultimate goal is to open a free-standing CHUBurger in downtown Denver that would complement the one at Coors Field. "Denver is a home market for us and that would bring the most value," Melis says. "It would be great to be able to have people walk from Coors Field to another CHUBurger downtown. We are definitely looking to make that happen. We are keeping our eyes out, but we're not quite there yet."
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