19 February 2012

Collaboration brings Oskar Blues to Indiana

In the world of craft beer, bottle collaborations are commonplace.  But what happens when two breweries, known for their production of canned beers, want to work together?  A can-laboration, of course!  In this case, the participating breweries are Indiana’s very own Sun King and Colorado canned-beer pioneers Oskar Blues.

The breweries will be releasing Chaka, an 8% Belgian-style ale that will be brewed in two batches featuring the same recipe. The first brew at Oskar Blues’ R&D facility in Lyons, Colorado, and then again at the Sun King brewery in Indianapolis.  The recipe has been formulated by Dave Colt and Dave Chichura with ingredients coming from their respective states - shagbark hickory syrup from Indiana and a Belgian pale malt from Colorado Malting. The brewing will take place early this spring, and the beer will be debuted at the Craft Brewers Conference, held in San Diego in May.  After the CBC debut, the breweries will release the beer in their respective markets.  Cans will be 16 oz. tallboys with art and brewery information specific to the brewery where the batch is brewed.

This project has been a major undertaking for both breweries, as well as the Ball Corporation, which supplies cans for both breweries.  Ball usually requires that an entire truckload of cans be purchased at a time, but they were able to work out a deal for a smaller run for the special release, allowing the recipe to be released in both locations.  

“It’s something that we’ve wanted to do because of the Oskar Blues/Sun King connection” says Clay Robinson, referring to the relationship that he and Dave Colt from Sun King and Dave Chichura from Oskar Blues have maintained since their beginnings in the industry.  Colt and Chichura met during Colt’s first brewing gig at the now closed Circle V Brewery in Indianapolis, where Chichura inquired about a brewing position. “He came in and was inquiring about the assistant brewing job,” said Colt. “He started quizzing me about different beer things that I wasn’t aware of, that I was still learning about.”   Shortly after, Chichura landed a position at Rock Bottom, where he met Robinson, and the trio have been friends since.  

Oskar Blues is a pioneer of the canned craft beer market and their beer is highly regarded, though not distributed in Indiana.  This will be the first brewing collaboration between Sun King and Oskar Blues, and the first brewery collaboration for Oskar Blues.

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