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Owen Ogletree's picture

Brewing with Dave Thibodeau of Ska Brewing

Ska brewing co-founder Dave Thibodeau celebrates 20 years of beer. (Credit: Owen Ogletree)


BC: What do you love about Ska's brewing facility in Durango?

Dave: We did a great job in planning the layout of the brewery, taproom and kitchen. We've had the kitchen since 2013, and our Container Restaurant space is built out of two metal shipping containers. We also have upstairs meeting space at the brewery for groups where we hold public "happy hour yoga" and employee yoga. For the public, it's an hour of yoga followed by a pint of beer for $10. Our yoga instructor does both the public and free employee classes and keeps the ten bucks from the public sessions, but we provide the beer.

BC: How did Ska Brewing celebrate its 20th anniversary milestone?

Dave: We held our anniversary party at the brewery last September with really amazing Ska bands, and 30 of our favorite breweries came out to put their beers on. We also celebrated 20 years of brewing during this year's Great American Beer Festival where we were joined by the founders of three other breweries that started in 1995 – AleSmith, Allagash and Dogfish Head. Each brewery brought five special beers to tap at Falling Rock Tap House in Denver. It makes me proud to be one of these pioneering craft breweries.

BC: Ska Brewing was one of the first craft breweries to put its beer into cans. How did you decide that canning was a wise option?

Dave: When we first got a sales call from Cask canning company, Oskar Blues wasn't even canning yet. The Cask guy tried to sell us a two-head canning system, and he visualized a black and white checkered can to match our theme. We just weren't convinced until Oskar Blues' cans hit the scene, then we decided to can our ESB. Eventually we bought Oskar Blues' old canning line and found that cans really fit our lifestyle in Colorado. With rafting and backpacking, bottles aren't the right thing to carry along. A number of our beers are in both bottles and cans, and I'm always drawn to the can. I still love bottles for aging and cellaring beers, but cans dominate sales for us now. Because of our cans, my engineering-savvy partner Matt started another business called Ska Fabricating that makes depalletizers for canning lines.


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