The Horst Schulze Award for Excellence in Hospitality

Dale Katechis, Soul Founder,

Oskar Blues Brewery

Dale Katechis is fueled by doing things differently. Oskar Blues has spawned a number of diverse companies that stem from Dale’s passion for going against the grain. Dale entered the restaurant business at the age of 8, working in his mother’s restaurant in Florence, Alabama. He graduated from Auburn University with a degree in finance, and headed west in 1992 with his wife and high school sweetheart, Christi.

The couple landed in Colorado, where Dale served as manager of an Old Chicago restaurant in Boulder, then opened an Old Chicago in Longmont. In 1997, Dale decided to leave his management position and venture into the land of self-employment with an already maxed-out credit card in hand. He opened Oskar Blues restaurant in Lyons (population1,400) in 1997, and he began brewing beer in the basement at the Cajun- inspired restaurant, pub and music venue in 1999.

In November 2002, Dale decided to look into distributing his craft beer regionally as a way to keep the Oskar Blues name in the public eye during the slower winter months at the brew pub. He was sent a fax about a small Canadian company that had developed a one-at-a-time table-top canning machine for beer. Once Dale stopped laughing, he started looking into the advantages of canning beer and worked with the company, Cask Systems, Inc, and local can manufacturer, Ball Corporation, to make hand canning Oskar Blues’ flagship Dale’s Pale Ale, a reality. This move made Oskar Blues Brewery the first craft brewery in America to brew and can its own beer and launched a canned niche for craft brewers. Oskar Blues set out to start educating beer drinkers on the advantages of cans and to combat the stigma that then surrounded the package’s history. Fourteen years later, more than 300 American craft brewers can their product.

On 12/12/12, Oskar Blues became the first Colorado brewery to open an expansion brewery in the East. The Brevard, North Carolina, Oskar Blues Brewery opened both a brewery and Tasty Weasel Taproom at the foot of Pisgah National Forest, a mountain biking mecca that Dale is willing to travel to on a regular basis.

In September 2013, in response to the devastating Colorado floods, Dale jump-started a plan he’d had for a while by starting the CAN’d Aid Foundation, as a charitable non-profit focused on grassroots grants to fund projects in both Oskar Blues home states and across the nation. In its first year, CAN’d Aid donated $700,000 for flood recovery and an additional $50,000 to projects that included outdoor recreation, child and family advocacy and sustainability initiatives. In the summer of 2014, Dale won the E-Chievement Award on the public radio E-Town Show for his philanthropic contributions to Colorado.

In December 2013, Dale added another hospitality concept to his stable of businesses with CyclHOPS in Longmont, a full-service bike shop, taqueria, tequila and craft beer bar. In the spring of 2014, Dale purchased a 145-acre former dairy farm in Henderson County, NC, and re-christened it the REEB Ranch. This past summer, the Red Bull Dreamline BMX Competition was held at the REEB Ranch and televised nationally. The REEB Ranch is being developed as a bike park, events venue, and East Coast locale for sustainable production of hops and beer similar to the Hops & Heifers model.

Oskar Blues in Longmont recently purchased an additional 60,000 square foot warehouse adjacent to the existing brewery for further expansion. Dale recently developed another company, Whip, that creates and sells food products including hot sauces, seasoning mixes, coffee beans, packaged meat from Hops & Heifers Farm, and the root beer, B. Stiff, that the brewery has been canning for the past few years.

When not working, Dale spends time with wife and four children. He is an avid mountain biker, and served as president of the Lyons Chamber of Commerce from 1999-2006.

Our Past Honorees

Horst_Shulze

2011

Horst Schulze
Chairman and CEO
Capella Hotel Group

Agustin_Valeria_Huneeus

2013

Agustin & Valeria Huneeus
Proprietors
Huneeus Vintners

Niki_Leondakis

2014

Niki Leondakis
Chief Executive Officer
Commune Hotels & Resorts