Oakshire Barrels Forward

Oakshire Brewery tour with brewmaster Matt Van Wyk

On a recent field trip to Eugene, Oregon with the Saraveza crew, we had the opportunity to revisit the Oakshire Brewery. Here, we discovered a lot of new undertakings, including a brand new grain silo recently delivered from Alberta, Canada. This large silo has a 48,000 pound capacity, and once augurs are in place, brewing operations should be considerably easier for head brewer Joe Jasper and brewmaster Matt Van Wyk.

Tyler and Sarah at Oakshire Brewing

Oakshire head brewer Joe JasperOur group of beer nerds were excited to see Jasper, Van Wyk and founder Jeff Althouse. In the tasting room in front of the brewhouse, seven Oakshire beers were on tap. These included three of the brewery’s mainstay brews: Amber Ale, Watershed IPA, and the heralded Overcast Espresso Stout. In addition, four others included the Duck Billed Platypus Rye Belgian Cascadian Dark Ale (brewed in conjunction with the KLCC Brew Fest), The O’Dark Thirty Cascadian Dark Ale (this one has been making international beer news for its bottles employing the CDA title), Frog’s Wort (a crisp pale ale brewed with Belgian yeast), and La Ferme (meaning “the Farm,” this beer is the quintessential springtime Saison and makes use of a peppery farmhouse yeast and has an effervescent spice profile. A second rendition of La Ferme was sampled using grapefruit peels and grains of paradise will be exhibited at this year’s Portland’s Cheers to Belgian Beers Festival).

Brothers from other mothers: Oakshire's Matt Van Wyk (left) and Saraveza's Jonathan Carmean

In addition to beer production, Oakshire is looking forward to some egg production as well. Eight little chicks are being raised in a house adjacent to the brewery. Here, the little cluckers are growing rapidly, and it won’t be too long before the brewery has its own source for farm fresh eggs. Van Wyk also informed us that the grass around the establishment would soon be removed and replaced with vegetable crops. So, not only is Oakshire making concerted efforts at making stellar beer, they also continue to create employing the most sustainable means possible.

Oakshire: Chicks dig it here

Oakshire La Ferme In addition to the new silo and the seven delicious beers available up front, Oakshire has also expanded their barrel aging in an across the street storage space. Here, a number of one-of-a-kind specialties develop with age in a variety of wooden casks. On an exclusive tour to this beer geek wonderland, our tour enjoyed what Van Wyk calls “a flemish red/brown sorta beer.”  More specifically, the base beer is an amber ale. The wild ale yeast from Drie Fonteinen has been added along with a bit of Chesterberries (in the blackberry family). Says Van Wyk: “Recently Lactobacillus has been introduced. We also have a wheat beer aging on Lactobacillus. The idea there is for a Berliner Weisse style.”

Oakshire Brewmaster Matt Van Wyk

Tyler "Elder" Vickers in the Oakshire barrel roomDuring our amazing barrel escape, the brewmaster sampled us on some Collaborative Evil with the Drie Fonteinen yeast blend and some with lacto as well. “Our Farmhouse Ale will be inocullated soon with the (New Belgium) LaFolie wild yeast blend” adds Van Wyk. In the cooler Oakshire is carbonating Very Ill Tempered Gnome that has been in a Pinot barrel. You can hear the excitement in Van Wyk’s voice. You can tell he’s been geared up to do this sort of thing for a while since coming to Oregon. “On Monday” he says,  “I pick up six bourbon barrels at Hair of the Dog for a Barleywine that is in the tank. Wheee!”

Upon reluctantly removing ourselves from the barrel room, we returned to the tap room to enjoy a special keg of Overcast Espresso Stout that had been soaking in coffee beans for three weeks. This delicious beer gave us the kick we needed to push forward to the long day ahead. Next stop: Lunch at Bier Stein.