Although it was founded in Lyons and operates its largest brewery in Longmont, Oskar Blues has always felt right at home in Denver. And early next year, the company will plant some actual roots here when it opens its first property in Denver, a CHUBurger at 35th and Larimer streets, in the dynamic River North district.
The 3,700-square-foot spot, at 3490 Larimer Street, will include an outdoor beer garden, live music and the brewery's extensive selection of beers. It is slated to open in early 2016 on a corner that already has Mexican-food mainstay Phil's Place, as well as the upcoming Hop Alley, from Uncle's Tommy Lee. It's also within a few blocks of a dozen planned or existing breweries in what has become Denver's premier beer-centered neighborhood. “We are excited to come to Denver, formally. We always felt like it was a home town for us," says Oskar Blues spokesman Chad Melis.
Oskar Blues opened its first CHUBurger in its home base of Longmont in 2013; the fast-casual restaurant serves a wide variety of burgers made from antibiotic-free, hormone-free Black Angus beef. Much of that beef comes from cattle raised on the brewery's own Hops & Heifers Farm or on a local ranch with which the brewery has contracted.
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In 2014, Oskar Blues added a second, and much more high-profile, CHUBurger on the rooftop deck at Coors Field. Although that spot uses all the same ingredients as the original, it is staffed and operated by Aramark, which runs all the concessions in Coors Field and owns the liquor license. It also serves just two of Oskar Blues's beers. So the company had been looking for another Denver spot in the downtown area to help boost its profile. “Part of the RiNo move is to have an opportunity to engage all of those fans who met us at Coors Field,” Melis says. The Coors Field CHUBurger is slated to continue operating in 2016, and Melis says he hopes the two locations will work together.
In addition to beef burgers, CHUBurger serves bison burgers made with local bison meat, salmon burgers, and pork patties made from Berkshire pigs at Hops & Heifers. It also specializes in hand-cut fries and frozen-custard shakes and root-beer floats.
Oskar Blues has been growing like crazy over the past few years. In addition to its primary brewery and tasting room in Longmont, the Tasty Weasel, and the two CHUBurgers, the company operates a brewpub in Lyons, Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids in Longmont, Cyclhops Bike Cantina in Longmont, a mountain-bike manufacturing company, and root beer and coffee enterprises.
In 2014, it opened a second major production facility in Brevard, North Carolina, and it announced last week that it will open a third facility in Austin, Texas. In March, a private-equity firm called Fireman Capital Partners purchased an undisclosed stake in Oskar Blues. The brewery plans to make nearly 200,000 barrels of beer in 2015.