Next to Colorado, Oregon has to be in a close second for making the best beers in the country. Any place that Rogue,Widmer Brothers and Deschutes all decide to call home has got to be good.
This particularly strong and delicious entry by Oakshire Brewing has given me the final push to travel to Oregon on a beer tour as soon as my budget allows.
Thing is, Oakshire does not just do beer right, it also does coffee right too. It took the time to find the right brew, the right process and the right kind of stout to bring out the best in their very caffeinated batches. They went to Wandering Goat coffee (Wandering Goat was voted "Best Coffee" by Eugene Weekly readers for the third year in a row) for their lighter espresso roasted beans. All of Wandering Goat's coffees are fair trade, agriculturally sound and shade grown. like I needed more of a reason to visit Oregon.
Oakshire is a 2000 barrel microbrewery located in Eugene that specializes in brewing hand crafted ales in small batches and distributes throughout the state of Oregon. So beer houses all over the state can enjoy them, but the other 49 states are just out of luck. I feel fortunate I was able to give this a try at the Great American Beer Festival - where they took home a silver in the Coffee Beer category.
according to thefullpint.com, “It’s a great thrill to be recognized for our hard work. And to win with one of our year-round beers is equally exciting as we can continue bringing this high quality local beer to our many Overcast fans.” says Matt Van Wyk, brewmaster at Oakshire. Not bad for a relative newcomer on the scene.
To start off, the buzz from the beer comes from a relatively low body 5.8% stout. While dark, it is not quite black. It reminds me more of the color of a thick espresso, with a big light brown foamy head. It smells like a coffee store - very rich and strong. On first drink, you can tell there is a whole lot more flavors going on there, in the way of a light hop tang and lots of malt. The coffee is strong in here, but really not acidic, thanks to a 16 hour cold filtering process.
Using Wandering Goat as their coffee house was a very wise decision - as you can't get better than a light espresso roast that is grown in the best possible conditions. According to the brewery, one pint of beer has shot's worth of espresso per pint - which is some pretty heavy duty stuff.
If I were a native Oregonian, I would have a hard time on a hot Summer's day making the choice between this or a straight up iced coffee.
There is a reason this took home a medal at the GABF. And, the smell is almost as good as the taste. The aroma is very malty, slightly bitter, with lots of nuts and chocolate coming through. the finish is very chocolate and strong espresso blend. It is a good thing Oakshire went with a good coffee company, because the flavor is really brought front and center.
There is a habit of bigger places roasting their espresso blends too long, leaving their Espressos burnt. In this case the espresso bean is lighter and more flavorful. according to Wandering Goat, this flavor is "An espresso journey through lemon-drop to berry to baker's chocolate and back again."
More than selling me on just their coffee beer, Oakshire has sold me on the brilliance of Wandering Goat Coffee as well, which unlike Oakshire, is for sale online.