June 15, 2019

Beer Event: Hellshire Barrel-Aged Beer Fest and a trip back in time

Here comes by first beer post in more than seven years. Let's see if I can shake the rust...

Hellshire IX Poster
Today is the Hellshire Barrel-Aged Beer Fest and release of Hellshire IX, Oakshire Brewing's annual barrel-aged bottle of magic. In honor of the event, I'm going to take you on a little trip back in time to the first Hellshire release.

Saturday May 7th 2011. It was the closing weekend of Eugene Beer Week's freshman run. It had been a gauntlet of a week (editor's note: mainly for the liver and wallet) and I was about an hour away from my final event, the release of Hellshire I.

For those unfamiliar, Hellshire is a barleywine/stout/some-other-kind-of-big-beer-depending-on-the-year, barrel-aged and released annually alongside a big party. Hellshire was started under former Oakshire brewmaster Matt Van Wyk, now part of Alesong Brewing and Blending. The beer carried with it a mythos before it was even released, heralded by many as a continuation of Wooden Hell, a similarly-styled annual release Matt crafted at his previous (editor's note: previous, previous) brewery, Flossmoor Station. In fact, shortly before the release of Hellshire I, folks online were offering $50 per bottle for anyone interested in a little side hustle.

Apparently everyone else was doing battle with their owns hangovers that morning, as I not only made it to the brewery (editor's note: not a small feat) but beat out all my compatriots to be first in line for the event. Not a bad position for a bantamweight beer blogger. When the gate opened, I was given the baby blue Line Dry Rye t-shirt for being the head of the line and allowed to make the first ever purchase of Hellshire. This was immediately followed by a textbook Charlie in the Chocolate Factory moment.

Line Dry Rye T-shirt and a Bottle of Hellshire V
Oakshire employee: "How many would you like?"
Me: "One please"
Oakshire employee: "One case?"
Me: "No, one bottle"
Oakshire employee: "One, bottle?" (puzzled look)
Me: "Yes"
Oakshire employee: "Ok, ring him up for one bottle" (continues puzzled look)

Of course the next ten people in line all purchased their two case limit...or at least that is what it felt like at the time. And despite my limited economic impact, Hellshire is still going strong. It has grown from that initial gaggle of over enthusiastic beer nerds eight years ago to the full-blown barrel-aged festival and additional Hellshire Experience for those with a bit deeper pockets.

As for that first bottle of Hellshire I, it sat, tucked away for eight months until the birth of my son. The t-shirt I still wear. After eight years it has been given the prestigious honorific of Lawn Mowing Shirt. Speaking of which, that is what I will be doing today instead of attending the Hellshire IX release, a very "dad" decision. Now the only question is, do I pop open this bottle of Hellshire V before or after...


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