Ninkasi Brewing Company

Oakshire’s Barley Wine Highlights KLCC Microbrew Festival


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.

Oakshire's Brewers Reserve 6 was the highlight for many attendants of KLCC's 2013 Microbrew Festival. Photo courtesy of Oakshire Brewing.
Oakshire’s Brewers Reserve 6 was the highlight for many attendants of KLCC’s 2013 Microbrew Festival. Photo courtesy of Oakshire Brewing.

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.

Oakshire's Brewers Reserve 6, an American barley wine, made an appearance on Friday night.
Oakshire’s Brewers Reserve 6, an American barley wine, made an appearance on Friday night.

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.


Oakshire Prepares to Move to the Whit


By Hannah Everman, EDN

This year, the Oakshire Brewing Company is expanding their facilities to 225 Madison St. in the Whiteaker neighborhood.

It’s early morning and there’s a smell of a freshly brewed batch of beer that wafts through the open air outside of the Oakshire Brewing Company. A few men stock the white vans and hop in the drivers’ seats, pulling out of the driveway of their brewing facility at 1055 Madera St., in Eugene. This year, the Oakshire Brewing Company is expanding their facilities to 225 Madison St. in the Whiteaker neighborhood. Jeff Althouse, the co-founder of Oakshire, says,

“We’re not moving the brewery there. That’s the misconception that’s come out. Our brewing facility will stay here at Madera.”

Instead of a new brew facility, the new location will have a “public house,” warehouses, a cooler for their self-distribution operation, and expanded office space. Althouse states,

“The exciting thing is the public house. We’ll have space for people to come and enjoy our beers. It’ll be more of a pub atmosphere than a tasting room.”

The expansion is approximately a $1.5 million project. With $500,000 going into purchasing the property at Madison St., another $500,000 in equipment upgrades for the Madera facility, and the last $500,000 will go to building improvements at the new location. Althouse said Oakshire has a 65 percent compound annual growth rate and as they continue to develop, they need better accommodations.

There’s a clanging sound of metal against metal as kegs are being filled and moved about the warehouse. Althouse continues:

“The larger we become, the more people we employ and the more connections there are in the community through outreach and sponsorship programs. It helps reinforce where your beer is made and people love that.”

Oakshire’s new space will include a “public house,” an area for people to visit and enjoy their beers.

Oakshire’s estimated output for this year is 6,500 barrels. With the expansion they are predicting an output of 11,000 barrels next year.

Oakshire spreading into the Whiteaker has led to some assumptions that a beer battle may ensue between themselves and the Ninkasi Brewing Company, which is also a local brewery in the Whiteaker. However, Althouse states that could not be farther from the truth, explaining,

“Everybody in the neighborhood is excited to have us down there, including Ninkasi, and we’re excited to be in the neighborhood with them.”

The brewer was born in Eugene and bought a house in the Whiteaker before Ninkasi Brewing was ever there, so he is familiar with the area. Althouse says,

“There’s more and more beer production going on in the Whiteaker every day, which is great. It’s exciting.”

Althouse emphasized the importance of local breweries. People enjoy having options when it comes to their beer. He said local businesses often end up with similar customers and that’s just the way it works.

Originally, he was hoping the new location would be open for Thanksgiving, but that will not be the case. He is now planning to have the new facilities on Madison St. open by February, just in time for Zwickelmania — the Oregon Brewery Tour. Oregon Craft Beer hosts the tour. It is a statewide event that offers visitors a chance to see Oregon breweries, meet the brewers, and sample their favorite beers.

For more information about the Oakshire Brewing Company, visit their company website at For more information about Zwickelmania (Oregon Brewery Tour hosted by Oregon Craft Beer), visit

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Ninkasi and Cascadia Wildlands Team up to Benefit the Environment with “Pints Gone Wild”


What could be better than drinking delicious, locally crafted beer on a summer evening?  How about drinking delicious, locally crafted beer and helping to protect regional wildlands. 

Ninkasi Brewing Company of Eugene opened their beer garden in the Whitaker neighborhood on Tuesday night to welcome the five-piece bluegrass band Opal Creek as part of a year long fundraising effort to support Cascadia Wildlands.  The first Monday of every month (through May 2012), Ninkasi has pledged to donate half of all the proceeds from beer sold at their tasting room to benefit Cascadia Wildlands.  “Pints Gone Wild” began earlier this summer, as a cooperative effort to raise funds to further the causes supported by Cascadia Wildlands.

Ninkasi co-owner, Nikos Ridge, told EDN, that the brewing company has been glad to help in supporting Cascadia because “they do a great job achieving their mission, and they also support the McKenzie Watershed, which is one of our business interests.”  According to Ridge, using the cleanest water when brewing their craft beers is critical to maintaining their high standards of quality.  Ninkasi and Cascadia Wildlands also share more than just an appreciation for the environment of the Pacific Northwest. They want to make a difference.

This isn’t Ninkasi’s first time showing their support for Cascadia’s work.  The brewing company has also sponsored, through monetary and in kind donations, events such as Cascadia’s annual Hoedown in October, their Wonderland Auction in December, and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival.  Josh Laughlin, campaign director for Cascadia Wildlands, expressed to EDN that Ninkasi “has been generous since their inception, they have really set the bar high on community support.”

Cascadia Wildlands works to protect the most vulnerable ecosystems stretching from Oregon to Alaska. Founded in 1998, Cascadia Wildlands has succeeded in using legal means to prevent and reverse legislation that would have otherwise allowed for major destruction of precious wildlands.

One of the current efforts being made by Cascadia Wildlands is to restore populations of the grey wolf in Oregon. The grey wolf has experienced extinction in Oregon through systematic removal, and have only recently began to repopulate through migration from Idaho.  In May of this year, Congress repealed the Rocky Mountain grey wolf’s status as an endangered species in Montana, Idaho, and parts of Washington and Oregon. Laughlin said that currently there are approximately three packs of twenty wolves that have been restored in Oregon.  Cascadia is working to protect these wolves from further threat, by attempting to block legislation that would allow for the hunting of these endangered wildlife.

Another major goal of Cascadia Wildlands is to guard Elliot State Forrest (ESF) from clearcutting.  The Elliot State Forrest is a publically-owned rainforest covering 93,000 acres of Oregon’s coastal region.  ESF contains more carbon per acre than nearly any other place in the world.  This means that clearcutting this area would release carbon into the atmosphere, ultimately abetting climate change.  Currently, the Governor’s Forrest Management Plan calls for a doubling of the clearcutting that is already taking place at ESF as part of a previous agreement to help provide funds for education.

Ninkasi’s continued support has been instrumental in helping Cascadia Wildlands fuel these environmental watchdog efforts as well as many others. Find out more about Cascadia Wildlands’ by visiting their site. You too can take action to help protect the majestic Northwest through your volunteer or monetary contributions. 

Elisha Shumaker, EDN
Photos by Brandon Preo, EDN