Much of the attention that is given to local beer in the Eugene community is directed at the Ninkasi Brewing Company, and deservedly so.
It was over six-and-a-half years ago now that Nikos Ridge and Jamie Floyd, in the back of a German restaurant, began brewing their first batch of what would eventually become the flagship beer of Ninkasi, Total Domination IPA. From these humble beginnings has emerged a micro-brew giant that is currently expanding into California while having its eyes set on the rest of the United States. Preaching a message that highlights the importance of supporting local companies and individuals, Ninkasi’s reach may only be limited by the sky.
And yet, despite the large claim to fame in Eugene that Ninkasi currently has, another brewery that has become a staple in this community is set to go toe-to-toe with them for years to come.
Like Ninkasi, Oakshire Brewing began in 2006 from humble beginnings, when two men (this time brothers) decided to see what talents they had at brewing beer. Unlike the many individuals who attempt to partake in this craft and fail, Jeff and Chris Althouse found success in what can be a very unforgiving market.
Over six years later–once again paralleling the path Ninkasi has taken–and Oakshire has become one of the signature companies in Eugene and throughout the micro-brewing industry.
And, on Friday night, Oakshire made the best of an already great event by providing attendants of the 2013 KLCC Microbrew Festival with a very special tasting.
Located under a tent that was placed next to many of the other breweries giving out samples during the festival–in stark contrast to Ninkasi’s large tent that was placed in its own individual corner that came fully equipped with a foosball table, mock fireplace, and bean bag toss station–Oakshire released what was likely the most popular and hyped sample of the night.
Oakshire Brewers Reserve 6 was the beer–or barley wine–that everybody had been waiting for all night long. Originally making its debut this past winter to mark six years of the breweries existence, the barley wine drew crowds of people to Oakshire’s booth even before its scheduled release at 9 p.m.
Barley wine, for those who do not know, is not a wine. While there are hints of fruity flavors that you may find in a wine, barley wine is still classified as a beer because it is still made from grains while achieving the alcohol content of a wine. A breweries strongest beer can sometimes be considered its barley wine, though the alcohol strength should still be between 8-12 percent.
And, standing at 9.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), Oakshire’s barley wine definitely meets its classification criteria.
The brew, which was barrel-aged in brandy barrels for one year, hit all the right notes on Friday evening, combining a hint of fruit with the great signature hops of the northwest. Oakshire’s website describes their barley wine as being able to provide “a warm, soothing and luxurious drinking experience,” something that many who sampled it on Friday agreed with.
The sampling of Oakshire Brewers Reserve 6 towards the end of the first night of KLCC’s 2013 Microbrew Festival was the highlight for many beer enthusiasts who came from all over the region to pay tribute to the evolving beer culture of the northwest.
Unfortunately for the individuals who lined up to taste this drink, Brewers Reserve 6 was produced as an anniversary brew, making its quantities severely limited.
However, for those who want to get a possible second taste of this unique barley wine, Oakshire will be holding a special release for their third barrel aged beer, Hellshire III, on February 16 and have announced they will sell some of their past brewer’s reserves as well as their other barley wine, Hellshire I.
It was not indicated whether or not Oakshire Brewers Reserve 6 would be one of the reserves to make an appearance.