Beer scout: Oskar Blues goes nitro

CAN DO: Oskar Blues is known for breaking down stereotypes about canned beer. With the release of Old Chub Nitro, it will become the first U.S. brewery to package nitrogenated beer in cans. Photo courtesy of Oskar Blues Brewery

Beer news from around WNC

Sure, Oskar Blues is known for its great beer, but founder Dale Katechis has also made a name for the company when it comes to canned beer. It is widely credited as the first craft brewer to package in cans, and it’s been breaking down the stereotype that canned beer = bad beer for more than a decade. Soon, Oskar Blues will take it a step further and be the first U.S. brewery to package “nitro” beer in cans. Even those who aren’t the biggest fans of craft beer will be familiar with the concept: Guinness cans and draft are nitrogenated. Those fine, cascading bubbles will now be available in Old Chub, a malt-driven Scottish ale, thanks to a widget inside each can that will release nitrogen when the beer is opened.

In addition to the groundbreaking cans, Oskar Blues has plenty else going on. Their first North Carolina Burning Can Festival now has tickets on sale at: The event, which will take place on July 5, is the first East Coast version of their Colorado Burning Can event that features outdoor sports, live music, food and, of course, plenty of beer from a variety of breweries that package in cans. Last but not least, Oskar Blues is teaming up with Carolina Theater for a short film contest. The entrants will be shown at the theater on May 28 (during Asheville Beer Week), and the winner will get to brew a beer at Oskar Blues. Email for details and information on how to enter your short film.


New Belgium Breaking Ground

After months and months of brownfield remediation and other site work, New Belgium is ready to break ground on its 133,000-square-foot brewery and tasting room. “Over the last two years, we’ve really enjoyed getting to know this community, and we have developed strong partnerships with businesses, non-profits, government agencies and neighbors,” said New Belgium CEO and co-founder Kim Jordan. “We’re grateful to be part of this city and for our partnerships, and are incredibly excited to get this off the ground.”

The groundbreaking celebration will include a free party at the Grey Eagle on Friday, May 2. David Earl and the Plowshares are playing, and tickets are available at the Grey Eagle or Harvest Records (limit of four per person). If tickets sell out, many of the folks from New Belgium — including Jordan — will also be at the Thirsty Monk on May 2 to celebrate with a toast of Le Terroir. Check Thirsty Monk’s website ( or Facebook page for details.

Four Big Festival Tickets on Sale

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to pick up tickets to at least one of our area’s beeriest summer events: Beer City Festival tickets are now on sale at local breweries and beer stores for $45 (cash only). The festival will be May 31 and it traditionally sells out early. The other huge summer festival comes courtesy of Sierra Nevada. It’s the culmination of their Beer Camp Across America multicity tour and the first large public event at the Mills River Brewery. The brewers are not yet finalized, but Sierra is bringing in many that aren’t traditionally available in Asheville. Tickets are $65 and available at

Two more specialized festivals also have tickets on sale. The Big Firkin Beer Festival will move from Highland to Pisgah this year. It’s a smaller event than the big summer fests, but a must-attend for anyone who enjoys cask ale. Tickets are $40 and available at: Wicked Weed’s Funk Asheville, a sour-beer-centric event the night before the Beer City Festival, now has tickets on sale for $80 at


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About Thom O'Hearn
Thom O’Hearn is a writer, book editor and homebrewer. Twitter: @thomohearn

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