Oakshire’s upping its game with two new beer series.
When brewmaster Matt Van Wyk describes the current state of Eugene, Oregon’s Oakshire Brewing as “kind of fun right now,” it seems like an understatement. Since 2006, the brewery’s quietly built an audience with three stalwart year-round beers and a smattering of seasonals. But only now is Van Wyk spreading his wings with two beer series, Hellshire and Brewers Reserve, which mark a new chapter for the Oregon brewery.
Van Wyk’s a barrel guy by training: He learned wood at Chicago’s Flossmoor Station Brewing, where the barrel guy Tom Griffin—a Johnny Appleseed character who drives barrels around the country—made regular stops. When Van Wyk moved to Oakshire in 2009, he kept ties with Griffin, who began dropping by with barrels that once housed everything from bourbon to gin. Van Wyk started aging his regular lineup, and the small-release Hellshire series was born. A bourbon-barrel-aged barleywine dubbed Hellshire I debuted last spring; this May, Van Wyk releases Hellshire III, a bourbon-barrel-aged stout brewed with coffee, chocolate and Bing cherries.
A perpetually busy guy, Van Wyk’s simultaneously launching a Brewers Reserve sour beer series. Through an unlikely partnership, Oakshire brewed three beers to commemorate the Eugene Water and Electric Board’s 100th anniversary, and it was the third beer, an American wild ale called Skookumchuck, that Van Wyck adopted as the first for the new series. “I love lambics and enjoy tinkering with sour beers. We’re just starting to get to the point where we can get them into people’s hands. “
Oakshire Amber: “This is our original beer—our founder’s homebrew recipe scaled up—and our go-to beer because it’s good with food. It’s not too hoppy; just a middle-of-the-road amber ale that’s great for the everyday drinker.”
Watershed IPA: “Because we’re in the Northwest, everyone drinks IPAs. Ours is a northwest IPA with northwest hops; it’s dry-hopped for a citrusy, floral aroma. It’s balanced and not overly bitter.”
Overcast Espresso Stout: “This is a beer we’re starting to get a reputation for. It’s an oatmeal stout made with cold-water extract coffee. We have the beans roasted here in town at Wandering Goat Coffee Co.; we actually use 100 pounds of beans for every 50 gallons of coffee—it’s pretty labor-intensive.”
Hellshire III: “This is one of our spirit-barrel-aged beers. It comes out in May and is going to be a stout aged in bourbon barrels with coffee, chocolate and Bing cherries. The releases are small, and the artwork is done by a local artist.”
Brewers Reserve Skookumchuck: “Skookumchuck [the first] is a blended wild ale. There’s no schedule for when the beers in this series come out: Especially with Brettanomyces and lactobacillus, you can’t predict what they do. I have to fight for space with the barrels all the time.”