Oskar Blues runs out of beer! Everybody panic!

Remember the time you invited twenty people to a party and 150 showed up?

As Kelly says in the Outlaw Josey Wales, "Yep, first the silver run out, then the people run out, then the whiskey run out, then the beer run out."

That's sort of what happened to the Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont over the last few weeks, but instead of kicking out the partiers, the brewery is making a massive beer run.

On Wednesday, Oskar Blues installed two new 200-barrel fermenters, which should allow it to increase capacity by 30 percent to keep up with the demand for Dale's Pale Ale, Mama's Little Yella Pils, Old Chub and Gordon in 27 states.

"We're behind on orders, about 35 days behind," says brewery spokesman Chad Melis. "The warehouse may be empty, but the shelves won't be. We've been trying really hard to make sure we allocate beer so that it's not felt by the consumer. And it won't be an issue at all in Colorado. We'll take care of our backyard first."

In others words, no need to stock up on Dale's for a coming drought like panicked parents did late last year when Ego announced a frozen waffle shortage.

And even more help is on the way. By the end of June, Oskar Blues will have installed an additional two fermenters along with a carbonation tank. With the increased capacity, the brewery expects to produce a minimum of 42,000 barrels of canned brew in 2010, up 40 percent over the 29,500 barrels it produced in 2009, Melis says. And just for comparison's sake, Oskar Blues made only 17,500 barrels the year before.

But even more important than adding capacity, Melis says, is the recent hiring of a couple of brewery experts to help with quality control and scale. Oskar Blues has also contracted with an outside consultant to help set up an in-house laboratory.

"All of this is a huge investment," he says. "But it's worth it. We're really focusing on our four core brands. We're not opening any new markets. We're going back to basics." Follow the Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan

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