Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis is branching out into new ventures, but continues to champion the cause of home-grown (and brewed) business
As one of the most recognizable names in the Boulder County beer and dining scene, Dale Katechis has spent a quarter-century developing his Oskar Blues franchise. Over the years, it grew from a single restaurant in Lyons to a brewing company with a national footprint, and strong support for his original recipe, Dale’s Pale Ale. Katechis is also known for his work with Can’d Aid, a local nonprofit, founded after the devastating Lyons floods of 2013, and its efforts sending three Frontier Airlines planes’ worth of water after 2017’s Hurricane Maria.
Last year, the Alabama-bred Katechis sold the large-scale Longmont-based brewery and an associated group of regional beermakers to energy drink company Monster Beverages, for a reported $330 million. It’s a move he says he made so he could devote more time to family, as well as helping to develop other local businesses, such as Wander + Ivy Wines, Weller CBD Beverages and Vertias Fine Cannabis, as well as his interest in classic American muscle cars. We caught up with him at the recently renovated Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids & Solids, which he still owns, along with his original Oskar Blues Grill and Brew in Lyons.
Q: How do you feel, having sold a very successful brewing company you started yourself?
A: When I see people drinking Mama’s Little Yella Pils – well, that’s named for my mom, and her experience raising me and my brother. We’ve always been expanding the business, but I got to a certain size, and it wasn’t quite as fun anymore. So I met with the Monster guys, and I knew they would be great stewards for the company. They have a lot of street credibility. And they know how to protect the brand, which is important, since my name is still on the cans. It’s great, because now I can concentrate on bikes and spend more time with my kids,
who are 27, 24, 23 and 17.
Q: How did you go from Lyons to a nation-wide business?
A: I was a homebrewer, kind of a mediocre one at that. When we started brewing, thinking we’d just have a $5 beer to drive foot traffic at the restaurant in Lyons – which we’d opened in April 1997 during a four-foot snowstorm, while my eight-month-pregnant wife and I were living off the grid up the canyon, and I was driving an ’82 Ford Bronco that got stuck for two weeks. But we stopped laughing about it and concentrated on the product, and I thought even if it was terrible, we’d just end up with a truckload of beer we’d have to drink. It kinda hit a nerve. And when Dale’s Pale Ale got written up in the New York Times, that was a gamechanger. It went off the charts.
Q: What’s your personal approach to business?
A: From the beginning, my thought has always been, if you love what you do and you continue to be authentic and genuine … well, that’s how I live my life. We work hard and play hard – that’s a humble and genuine sentiment. And people seem to be attracted to that. People want to be part of a tribe, and we’ve been able to do things to make the tribe happy.
Q: What are your next projects?
A: I’m always exploring new opportunities, and working to expand Can’d Aid – we’re working on trails and providing bikes and skateboards to underprivileged kids. That’s still very close to my heart. Now I’m focused on growing our restaurant business to help feed and support families – we still have about 150 employees.
By Andy Stonehouse | Longmont Magazine