Oskar Blues has expanded significantly since founder Dale Ketechis first started brewing in Longmont fifteen years ago -- and his decision to can his beers in 2002 made a big mark on the craft brewing industry.
This year, the brewery will embark on a new venture that it hopes will have a similar impact: Ketechis and company are launching Lyons Soul Distillery in the same barn where the company started canning its beers ten years ago.
"It's really in the beginning phases," spokesman Chad Melis emphasizes. "Federal licensing is in process. We ordered five stills so we can experiment and do some different things. Some of those should land fairly soon; one won't be here for at least a year."
As soon as the first stills land, though, founder Dave Ketechis and his cohorts will begin trying different recipes, which Melis promises will be creative. "We're looking forward to doing some different things," he says. "It will be similar to what we do with small batch beers."
Plans have already been drawn up for a whiskey -- although that will have to age for a couple of years before the public sees it -- and a spirit made from a local organic agave that won't "necessarily be tequila," says Melis. "The agave comes from a place right down the street from us in Lyons. I don't know that anyone has done this yet; we're really trying to do different things."
Lyons Soul spirits will also feature unique packaging. "We're working with Ball to release a resealable can," Melis explains. "We want to change the spirits world the same way we changed the craft beer world." How big those cans will be, however, Melis can't say; that's a detail that's still being ironed out.
Regardless, Oskar Blues says it'll start distilling as soon as the paperwork is cleared, which should be sometime this summer. "It's a good way to celebrate ten years of canning beers," says Melis. "We're really excited to try something new."
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