Bottle releases are special times when beer fans, collectors, and brewery supporters can get together and share in the anticipation of a new beverage. Oakshire Brewing is releasing Hellshire I on Saturday, May 7, 2011 at 8:00 a.m., and the day of the release event is shaping up to be a fun one.
Hellshire I is a bourbon barrel aged barleywine. Oakshire’s brewmaster Matt Van Wyk is known for Wooden Hell, a barleywine that he brewed at Flossmore Station, which has increased the hype around Hellshire I.
The early morning launch may keep some people away, but others will definitely do whatever it takes to be there. Some will travel to Oakshire in Eugene the night before, and some will set their alarms for long before the sun is up on Saturday morning. After purchasing bottles, there are people who will enjoy some coffee and beer, eat a breakfast sandwich, and quickly hit the road. Others will stay all day and attend the Sasquatch Fest that starts at noon. Whatever schedule you decide to follow, this is one trip that you should make.
One of my earliest posts on Portland Beer and Music was titled “Sometimes You Have to Leave Portland.” That’s still true! Even though Portland is Beervana, some of the most dynamic beer in the country comes from just outside of the city.
When people balk at the 8:00 a.m. start time, I giggle. Many people start work at 8:00. To them I suggest they just get up a bit earlier -- and make sure the gas tank is full. And carpool, for goodness sake! It will reduce your costs, and the trip will seem faster.
But what about the beer itself? What does it taste like? You can read a review from local beer bloggers Matt and Sanjay, but here is what some experienced Portland beer geeks had to say. This group consists of people who go to almost every bottle release around the state. They are people who properly cellar their beer, so their palates have not only tasted a lot of beers, but in many cases have tasted the same beer at different stages of its life. If you are on the fence about going to the Hellshire I release, these people’s statements should give you some good reasons to make the trip.
(For more in-depth history on Hellshire I and the events of Eugene Beer Week, read this post by Brewpublic.)
“It is hot and tannic with great potential.” - Kyle Krause
“If it tastes in the future like it smells right now, it will be great. It should be good in six to twelve months.” - Terry MacDonald
“I’m surprised at the depth of the pure bourbon barrels. Vanilla and oak from the bourbon barrels is great.” - Sam Pecoraro
“The base beer is great. The bourbon character isn’t overwhelming, but it’s good. It needs time to mellow out the boozy and rough edges. It’s an exceptional first release.” - Josh Grgas
“A whisky-dipped glazed donut.” - Matt DiTullo
“Deeply subtle caramel aroma leads quickly into harsh, bubbly and boozy abrasiveness that trumps cask strength bourbon. Needs time. Will be a great white whale in 2015.”
- Jim Bonomo
|L to R: Matt Ditullo, Kyle Krause, Jim Bonomo, Derek Arent, Terry MacDonald after tasting the Hellshire I|