Oskar Blues Brewery debuts Dale’s Bar at Colorado Rapids stadium
Oskar Blues Brewery has landed a four-year partnership with the Colorado Rapids that includes sponsoring the only bar at DICK’s Sporting Goods Park, where the team plays.
Although the signs hadn’t been changed in time for the start of the Rapids’ season on March 4, the former Eighteen76 bar will now be called Dale’s Bar, a reference to the Longmont brewery’s flagship pale ale, according to Ken Hehir, the new brand marketing director for Oskar Blues.
The company, which was purchased by Monster Energy in 2022, will also use the bar to debut what Hehir calls “the Dale’s family” of beers, including the aforementioned stalwart originally released in 2002 and two newer releases: Double Dale’s IPA and Dale’s American Lager. The latter is currently being distributed in a limited capacity under the name Oskar’s Lager, boasting 95 calories and 2.5 carbs.
“What we’ve seen is our brand Dale’s has a lot more brand recognition than the name of our brewery,” Hehir said. “As an example, Fat Tire is much better known than New Belgium.”
Fat Tire was the flagship brand for New Belgium Brewing for decades before Voodoo Ranger became its number-one seller. New Belgium recently changed the recipe and look of Fat Tire in an effort to keep the beer relevant. At one point, Oskar Blues and New Belgium — now owned by Japan’s Kirin — were the two largest independently owned breweries in Colorado.
But Monster isn’t planning to ditch the Oskar Blues name and there are “no immediate plans” to roll out other Dale’s-branded beers, said Hehir, a longtime brewing industry executive who most recently worked as CEO of Denver’s Tivoli Brewing.
Other Oskar Blues recipes, such as the Hazy Blues juicy IPA, as well as its hard seltzer brand, Wild Basin, will be available at Dale’s Bar and other vendors at DICK’s. The Beast Unleashed, Monster’s new alcoholic malt beverage, may also be sold at the stadium, Hehir said.
Oskar Blues and the Rapids first entertained a potential partnership last summer, but they only recently signed a contract. While the brewery has previously partnered with official soccer supporters groups, this deal marks the first time the company has worked with the team.
Additional plans include post-match happy hours with supporter-friendly price points on beer and food, and collaborations with fans on special recipes, Hehir said. Oskar Blues may also test certain beers at the park and is considering installing a Crowler machine at Dale’s Bar to produce special labels for theme nights that can turn into collectibles.
“The way we approached sponsorship, we don’t just want to put our name on the side of a building and walk away once the branding’s done,” Hehir said. “We want to do stuff with the supporters’ group and we’ll be doing supporter engagement and take a holistic approach to being a partner.”
Oskar Blues opened a restaurant called Chuburger inside Coors Field a decade ago, serving its beers and the same food it had at its then-restaurant of the same name. Although Chuburger has since closed, Oskar Blues has maintained a presence in most of Denver’s sporting arenas.
And the timing couldn’t be better. Apple TV recently inked a 10-year deal with Major League Soccer to broadcast all its games live and blackout-free, including the playoffs. That means fans can watch their home team’s games regardless of where they live in the U.S., a game-changer for Rapids supporters dealing with blackouts from the ongoing dispute with Altitude TV.
For Oskar Blues, that means reaching potential customers beyond the Rocky Mountains.
“It gives us great exposure in Colorado and beyond because of the reach of soccer,” Hehir said.
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