The OGs of Craft Beer | Oskar Blues – Dale’s Pale Ale
When you speak of OG beers, few stalwarts deserve the title more than Oskar Blues Brewery’s Dale’s Pale Ale. You can call many brewers innovative, but being able to say that you canned the first ever craft beer definitely gives you some added bragging rights. Dale’s Pale Ale’s adept combination of floral hops and malt overtones was first packed into aluminum back in 2002, in the early days of craft beer’s infancy, before beer was served in snifters and incessantly critiqued on social media. The iconic “strong pale ale” is still one of the most recognizable beers on the market even as the style of Pale Ale has evolved and the India Pale Ale entered its heyday. Here’s why it continues to capture the taste buds of drinkers across the country.
Today, many beers try to be too many things to too many people. Breweries chase fleeting fads, which leads to weekly release cadences and a never-satisfied consumer base. Through all of this, there are a few beers that stand up and compete against this growing wave. Dale’s Pale Ale is one of those offerings. Bolstered by a strong, pale malt backbone, Dale’s invokes a vision of what a Pale Ale used to be, and why it’s still one of the strongest beer styles in the world. It’s a nostalgia-inducing first sip, as you get huge hits of floral hoppiness thanks to the Centennial hops found throughout. The taste is firm, piney and a bit bitter, which is what a traditional Pale Ale should be. There are no frills or added adjuncts. Dale’s Pale Ale has a simple ingredient list that creates a winning flavor combination that makes it supremely drinkable. According to Patrick Daugherty, CANarchy’s CMO (the group that owns Oskar Blues), Dale’s is the beer that started the Oskar Blues empire, and remains the pivotal pillar of their now-national brand.
Dale’s Pale Ale came from small beginnings. Oskar Blues was founded by Dale Katechis in a strip mall as more of a restaurant than a brewpub at first. Dale had a great beer, apparently first brewed in college when Katechis attended Auburn, that consistently dominated their tapline. As a result, Katechis decided to leverage Dale’s popularity to drive awareness of the restaurant. Eventually, Katechis realized that it was time to expand on the back of Dale’s and he made the ambitious and trend-setting decision to put Dale’s Pale Ale in cans back in 2002 – the first ever instance of craft beer being available in aluminum. It’s hard to get more original than that.
According to Daugherty, the daring move is fitting of Dale and the larger Oskar Blues ethos: “Oskar Blues is full of passionate, innovative grinders – from the beer to the packaging. Back in the day, Dale and team loaded up the van and handout DPA cans one by one – getting one fan, loyalist, craft consumer hooked at a time. It’s that type of fiercely entrepreneurial spirit that still rings true today and fits the adventurous, outdoor lifestyle that DPA invokes for consumers.”
While DPA is still the main beer for Oskar Blues, responsible for north of 35% of their total business, it also acts as the foundation for Oskar Blues to tell their compelling story through their canning innovation. “Craft beer in a can is both functional and emotional. For functionality: it’s a superior vessel, keeps beer fresher, better for environment and is lighter for shipping. The emotional aspect is the connection point because we were first, and I do believe that it matters when you do something first – it’s ownable, not an opinion. Canning our beer was boundary pushing and that attitude embodies the pioneering spirit of Oskar Blues and serves as a proof point to tell our larger story as a brand.”
You can find Dale’s Pale Ale across all 50 states in 12, 16, and 19.2 ounce cans – along with draft. It’s also available in select international markets. Regardless of where you find this beer, from Colorado to Chicago and from coast to coast, the brand of Dale’s Pale Ale is “magnetic” according to Daugherty, meaning that it appeals across demographics and drinking preferences due to the deeper story Dale’s Pale Ale is able to tell. I have a feeling that the story still has a few chapters to go and I can’t wait to drink it all in. Cheers!
We at Porchdrinking.com thoroughly enjoy covering craft beer trends and showcasing the newest and beers. But, before terms like Brut, Milkshake, New England and even BBA entered the brewing-industry lexicon, beer fans were thrilled to taste Ambers, Pale Ales and some mysterious beer that may or may not have arrived from India. So, for one month, we are going to take time to remember some of those OGs of Craft Beer — the brews that made it all possible. While we can’t cover all the OGs of Craft Beer, we want to take this time in August to pay homage to several of them. If your favorite “classic” isn’t on the list; don’t fret. Let us know what you loved back in the day (or still do), and bring attention in the comments section below or via our social media channels.
Feature image courtesy of Oskar Blues