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A unique addition to recycling world

Devon O'Neil
Special to the Daily/Mark Fox A Lyons-based brewery is sponsoring a recycling program where beer drinkers can turn 3,501 cans of beer into a new mountain bike.
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How’s this for interesting: Recycle 3,501 cans of Oskar Blues Brewery beer, get a custom-made Maverick American mountain bike (retail value $6,000).No joke. In a first-of-its-kind marketing campaign – aimed at helping the environment, promoting its product and rewarding its active customers, all in one fell swoop – Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis and the brewery’s “lead singer” (really) are paving new grounds on the recycling front.

“It’s wacky, it’s hilarious,” said Marty Jones, the aforementioned mock vocalist. “Basically, though, we just want to get people to try our beer and be good stewards to the environment. … All while doing something very good for Mother Earth, a lady we have a great deal of love and respect for.”The Lyons-based brewery kicked off its unique contest last fall, and is wrapping it up on Oct. 31. Outside of putting flyers in each 12-pack they put on shelves, the brewers haven’t done a bit of advertising. Still, Jones said, they’ve gotten a decent amount of interest, and currently have two contestants in line to receive a free bike. (The first three to turn in their 3,501 cans – the equivalent of 145 cases of beer – get bikes.)As of last week, Estes Park mountain biker Mike LeBeau and Broomfield cytology lab technician Timur Cerkez were leading the way in the cans-for-bike drive. LeBeau had nearly 3,000 cans to his credit at last count, and Cerkez was hovering around the 2,000 mark.Instead of committing themselves to inordinate amounts of alcohol consumption, though, LeBeau and Cerkez are spreading the wealth.

“I went to a party the other day, and I took five cases with me. It’s something I do now every time I go to a party,” said LeBeau, 28, a trail maintenance worker for Rocky Mountain National Park who also fights wildfires with Alpine Hot Shots. “Sometimes I even drop cases off at friends’ houses for them to drink, and then pick the cans up when they’re empty. I’ve made a lot of new friends up here in the Park. Everybody wins.”Like LeBeau, Cerkez has not had any trouble finding an excuse to buy the full cans before he empties them. “It’s really good beer,” he said.Contestants can bring empties of either of Oskar Blues’ two canned products – Dale’s Pale Ale or Old Chub Scottish Ale, which boast alcohol-by-volume percentages of 6.5 and 8, respectively.According to Jones, part of the ploy is to debunk the myth that canned beer isn’t tasty. They began putting their product into aluminum instead of glass in the first place so that backcountry users would be able to enjoy a brew in the wild, without having to worry about dealing with the bottle. (And on that note, on each can is the mantra, “Pack it in, pack it out.”)

Once the “big, rich, assertive beers that challenge the drinker” were available in cans, Jones said, they needed a way to get people to understand that they’re still just as great-tasting as they’d be in bottles.And so was born the current promotion.As for the environmental benefits, Jones pointed out that aluminum is the No. 1 energy-saving form of recycling, and that each recycled can saves the equivalent of eight ounces of gas. That means each bike winner will theoretically save the planet 218 gallons of fuel.Although Cerkez and LeBeau are the only two serious contestants Jones knows of, he’s convinced there could still be room for another.

“We’ve gotta think there’s a third person out there,” he said.For more information on the project, visit http://www.dalespaleale.com/bike.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at doneil@summitdaily.com.


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