After brewing for over 6 years at Oakshire Brewing, Brewmaster Matt Van Wyk has announced his intent to depart Oakshire to start his own brewery, AleSong Brewing and Blending that will focus on farmhouse ales, wild ales and a barrel-aging program. These are all beer styles that Van Wyk has excelled at during his brewing career. Van Wyk will partner with brothers Brian and Doug Coombs to launch AleSong in the coming months in the Eugene, Oregon area. The trio filed its Articles of Organization paperwork to form an LLC back in late July with the state of Oregon.
“I greatly appreciate the opportunity that Oakshire, and specifically Jeff Althouse, gave me and my family 6 years ago. By having the ability to grow my skill set and brewing knowledge while leading the production at this great company, I’m certain that I’m better prepared to open my own brewery and start this next chapter of my career. I couldn’t be more proud of the Oakshire team and what we’ve been able to accomplish together. I will greatly miss them all, but look forward to my next step and the opportunity to focus on very small batch artisan brewing and barrel aged beers,” states Van Wyk.
Van Wyk arrived at Oakshire in April of 2009 after relocating from the Chicago area. He is currently the second longest employee at the brewery behind founder Jeff Althouse. Prior to joining Oakshire, Van Wyk’s brewing career began 14 years ago at Glen Ellyn Brewing Co. outside of Chicago. From there Van Wyk went on to work at Two Brothers Brewing and FireHouse Brewing at concurring times. It was then in 2003 that he took over the reigns from Todd Ashman at Flossmoor Station. While there Van Wyk earned the 2006 Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year award at the Great American Beer Festival. He left Flossmoor Station in 2009 when he and his family relocated to Eugene to begin his stint at Oakshire. Now over six years later Van Wyk is ready to take his brewing talents to his new startup AleSong Brewing and Blending.
The connection to Van Wyk’s business partners started at Oakshire Brewing. Brian Coombs previously worked with Van Wyk at Oakshire during his two year tenure at the brewery. Brian helped launch Oakshire’s QA/QC Lab utilizing his background and degree in chemistry from the University of Oregon. Currently Brian is learning the nuances of the wine business while working at King Estate Winery.
Then the third partner is Brian’s brother Doug Coombs. Doug has a background in economics with a degree from Princeton University. He is also the founder and CEO of Bogotá, Colombia based biciq that is an event ticket agency in Columbia. What he may not know about brewing, Doug will be of benefit when it comes to the business side of things.
With Van Wyk’s soon departure on October 23rd, Oakshire will be in excellent hands when Tyler West will take over Van Wyk’s duties. Prior to joining Oakshire in early 2012 as its Lead Brewer, West was the Brewmaster at the award winning Silver Moon Brewing in Bend, Oregon.
“This past week, as we made internal announcements regarding this transition, two very clear sentiments came back from folks on our team. We’re all very excited for Matt and completely confident in Tyler’s leadership and the talent of our entire production team,” commented Oakshire Founder and CEO Jeff Althouse.
Van Wyk’s last day at Oakshire is planned for October 23rd. Oakshire’s 3rd annual Single Batch Fall Bierfest on Saturday, October 24, 2015 will serve as Matt Van Wyk’s send-off celebration.
Stay up to date on the progress of AleSong Brewing and Blending by following its website and its soon to be launched Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.
(editors note: Matt Van Wyk has periodically provided content for BREWPUBLIC over the past six years, as has Brian Coombs.)
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 25 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in the archives of Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram at @hopapalooza.