Hellshire I
Oakshire Brewing

Hellshire IHellshire I
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Barleywine - American
3.41 | pDev: 21.41%
Oakshire Brewing
Oregon, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Hellshire IHellshire I
Notes: "A bourbon barrel aged barleywine. It is 10% abv and spent 10 months in Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrels."

Released May 2011
View: Beers
Reviews: 58 | Ratings: 108 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by drabmuh:
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drabmuh from Maryland

3.18/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This bottle was a pretty big disappointment for everyone present at the tasting. Bottle shared by Thorpe, thanks Mike, if we wouldn't of tried it, none of us would have known how bad it was.

Beer is amber and mostly clear with a wispy white head of tiny bubbles, some lacing, a little carbonation, OK looks a little light compared to the other beers of the night but there's nothing wrong with that.

Solventy, hot, boozy, sweetness in the nose. At this point I'm thinking, I hope it doesn't taste like that.

This is an underattenuated syrup malt bomb of booziness. Damnit. The winner of this beer is the alcohol, it overpowers everything, the syrup, the liquor, the wood, the malt backbone and it even dries out the finish. Later in the night I returned to this beer to try again and I was once again offended by its flavor and aroma. I won't have it again.

Aug 23, 2011
More User Reviews:
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BBThunderbolt from Kiribati

3.55/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Tyler for this one. 22oz bottle poured into 10oz goblet. Poured a muddy brown color with thin cap of tan head that had low retention and lacing.

Bourbon was at the front of the nose, along with some wood, with the base beer showing up behind. There may have been a hint of cardboardy-oxidization as well.

Very similar on the tongue, with the cardboard being a bit more notable.

The body was fairly typical for the style, smooth, and had a medium finish.

Drinkability was very nice. I don't think I would have enjoyed a whole 22 to myself, but the 12 or so oz I got was nicely enjoyable.

Overall, a very nice beer. It's likely well past prime, so if you have one, or see one, drink it now,

Jan 07, 2020
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John_M from Oregon

4.05/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled this with some friends at Max's last night (the staff was good enough to let me open a bottle I'd brought from home).

The beer pours a somewhat hazy brownish amber color with pretty good head retention and lacing. The nose is likewise attractive, showing considerable brown sugar, along with some vanilla and bourbon notes. The flavor profile replicates the nose in this sweet BW, and is completely dominated by the brown sugar. There's also some vanilla and light chocolate, but really not much a of bourbon presense. Mouthfeel is pretty full, with a long, smooth, very sweet finish. Also, at least right now, I found this beer to be a bit hot, with some noticeable alcohol in the finish.

A nice beer, but not really anything to get too excieted about, at least at this juncture. I really think this beer needs more time in bottle, and I'm now wishing I had an extra bottle to see what laying this beer down for a year or two does to it. Also, a bit more bourbon characteristic would be nice as well. Frankly, if the label had not told me this beer was barrel aged, I would not have guessed it.

Edit from 4/28/15. Much to my surprise, a bottle of the Hellshire I was brought to a bottle share the other day. The beer has aged quite well, and is very smooth and long on the palate now. The beer is definitely still a bit hot and boozy, but otherwise, is quite enjoyable. I have upgraded my review accordingly.

Jun 30, 2011
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whartontallboy from New York

3/5  rDev -12%

Jan 03, 2012
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meatyard from Florida

3.5/5  rDev +2.6%

Apr 01, 2013
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the_beerist from Massachusetts

3/5  rDev -12%

May 02, 2014
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msubulldog25 from Oregon

3.26/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Decided to open a bottle tonight after about 6 months in the cellar - poured half to a snifter with a flank steak and arugula dish, then half afterward.

Back label: "An American Barley Wine Ale aged for nearly 9 months in freshly emptied Bourbon barrels"
Red wax seal.

A: Ruddy caramel pour, slight murky haze. Very little head, a forgettable ringing sliver and a whisper of film. Barely any lace, just a slim string that quickly droops. Virtually still, almost no visible carbonation; furthermore, there's a fair amount of suspended yeasty dust. Pretty color, but otherwise pretty disappointing.

S: Likable aroma: sweet oak, toffee, a toasted woodiness, something like cherries and a faint 'tropical' sweetness (pineapple?). 'Bourbon' scent is pleasantly spicy, even a bit leathery. Wish it were a little stronger (even after almost an hour of warming, the aroma doesn't jump from the glass), but it's a pretty fine noseful.

T: Oy! Intense bitterness, like chewing a hop cone served on a barrel stave - there's a brazen 'greenness' that attacks upfront, herbal and medicinally dry. Wood chips keep popping into mind, more specifically cedar shavings. More bourbon (vanilla and oak, black pepper, earthy spice) develops, but the overall impression is one of harsh, almost pithy bitterness.

M: Very smooth (a lessening of the boozy heat felt last spring), subtly carbonated - yet a little on the thin side. A coating does build from sip to sip, but overall feel seems 'medium' at best... more viscous than many barley wines. As mentioned, alcohol heat has lessened over the months, but there's still a slowly smoldering warmth on lips and back of tongue.

O: I recall trying this back in the spring, soon after the release, and (after being rather disappointed) vowing to 'give it some time' to develop. A half year later and I don't think it's mellowed much nor achieved as much complexity as other barrel-aged barley wines I've enjoyed. With two bottles left in the cellar, I'll try another in 6 months or so and revise the review if warranted. As such, this is still a borderline 'miss' for Oakshire in my honest opinion.

Nov 02, 2011
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ygtbsm94 from Utah

3.5/5  rDev +2.6%

Mar 13, 2012
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JAXSON from Pennsylvania

3.8/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear garnet with a wisp of a head. Nose is spicy oak, heavy caramel malt, nice bourbon and dark fruits. Expressive but not totally cohesive. Hot, hot on the palate. Weird chemical heat carries from the front to the back. Underneath that there is a very nice, almost vinous dark fruit , like plums and dates, maybe even grapes. Heat is persistent and everywhere, chemical like and out of place. Oak is dry and spicy. A lot of good things going on but this one takes a big hit for the persistent vodka-like heat that dances around the palate.

After sipping on this for awhile, I'm struck by the idea that the lowest ratings of this probably come from people who are sharing the bottle with several others. The weird vodka heat really subsides after you've sipped on it for a good 20 minutes. Obviously the beer is flawed, but it has enough good things going on that I can admire it and enjoy it.

Aug 09, 2011
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largadeer from California

2.13/5  rDev -37.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Thanks Arbi!

Muddy amber pour with minimal head formation. Musty, oxidized nose; very nutty with moderate booziness. Somewhat resiny, light caramel. The aroma isn't bad, but the palate is pretty awful. Thin, sharply boozy, with a ton of harsh oak, sticky resiny hop bitterness and nutty oxidation. Caramel and bourbon flavor are pretty faint. Really a godawful finish, a painful combo of excessive bittering hops and harsh wood tannin. Just a bad beer overall.

Dec 03, 2011
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HopHead84 from California

3.1/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5


Thanks! Bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Burnt sienna with a big white head. Good retention, nice color, and lots of lacing. As bourbon barrel barleywines go, this looks great.

S: Nice nose. Lots of vanilla and caramel, with well integrated bourbon. It really opens up after 10 minutes. Notes of oak pervade the senses. Light booze notes. Nuanced and restrained. This is about a 4.25 in the nose, but I'm feeling generous.

T: Not as good. There are pleasant notes of vanilla, bourbon, caramel, and oak, but midpalate it falls apart. A harsh and astringent bitterness accompanies unpleasant dried fruit notes. It's super dry and booze is really powerful in the flavor. Oak just sucks the moisture from your mouth. The second half of this beer is just unpleasant: hot, overly bitter, and astringent.

M: Medium in body with upper low carbonation. Mouthfeel is thin and somewhat watery.

Overall: I could see this maybe improving with age, but it would be a gamble. We shall see. This is not a Californian hating on a NorthWest release. I have a number of bottles and I was hoping it would be great.

Jun 04, 2011
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Kegatron from Pennsylvania

3.28/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Jun 07, 2015
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MasterSki from Canada (ON)

3.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Nate for sharing this, as well as for the delicious pork skewers and grilled oysters. Served in a Russian River tulip.

A - A half-finger of off-white foam settles to a very thin cap and thicker collar, leaving spotty lace behind. Slightly hazed caramel body.

S - Huge oak, light dill aroma, spicy wood and bourbon, grape-heavy malt character with other dark fruits in the periphery, maraschino cherries, some overt saccharine notes.

T - Taste is heavy on caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, brown sugar, with less overt oak and whiskey. Finish is the real problem, with unpleasant astringency mingling with harsh oak and and residual hop bitterness, as well as some light alcohol. There's an almost soda water like acidity going on.

M - Somewhat undersized medium body, with surprisingly active carbonation. Alcohol is reasonably well-hidden. Fairly dry and tannic.

D - It's unfortunate this was hyped as the next Wooden Hell, as it doesn't even seem remotely similar. The beer is actually pretty good until the finish - I'm not sure what happened. Nearly identical to what I tried at FoBAB unfortunately. Did the change in house yeast and bourbon barrels really cause this many differences? Or is this just a totally different recipe?

Jun 06, 2011
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t0rin0 from California

2.75/5  rDev -19.4%

Dec 03, 2012
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angrybabboon from Massachusetts

3.24/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for sharing this

Consumed 10/12/13

Appearance: Somewhere between medium brown and dark amber - cloudy and hazy - pours with a small, off-white head, fades to just a few wisps of a cap, leaves some nice spots of lacing

Smell: Big, cooked caramel malts, and some booze - very cooked, very caramelized, with a touch of straight-up malt extract - some substantial graininess - lots of oak, with some vanilla - a load of booze as well, some whiskey, mostly just alcohol

Taste: Boozeshire? - yes, the big malts from the aroma are here, but the alcohol seems to be the very core of the flavor profile - so, so much alcohol - some whiskey, but it's more like vodka - tons of wood - earthy - extremely cooked malts, dark caramel, molasses, and some general roastiness - did I mention this is boozy?

Mouthfeel: On the full side of medium, smooth, hot with a lot of hot booze

Overall: Just tasting this drunk makes me feel beer

The aroma suggests that this barleywine has some potential. But the actual taste is so boozy. I'm not necessarily opposed to booze, but this is a bit much. I would say this might need more time, but it's already kind of old. Interesting regardless.

Oct 13, 2013
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DefenCorps from Oregon

3.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

John was kind enough to share a bottle of this.

Pouring a mildly hazy ruddy brown with a dense, light brown head that recedes leaving no lace. The nose is a rather intense blast of oak, heavily tannic with some bourbon, behind which the base beer appears. A nice barleywine, with an appetizing blend of caramel, toffee, a little nougat and a faint bitterness, the barrel character has overtaken this beer. Specifically the barrel character is too harsh. The label notes coconut and vanilla, but all I get is tannins. The palate, likewise, opens plenty harsh with booze, oak, tannins, and plenty of caramel. The last beer I remember tasting that was this harsh was Splinter Black - it almost tastes like raw oak was used! Super spicy, this is a rather puzzling beer. Caramel, toffee, butterscotch and vanillin are all present in copious amounts. Medium-full in body with light carbonation, this is great on the palate until the harsh oaky astringency takes over. All told, a solid effort, and one I'd love to try in a year or two, but right now, I can't recommend it.

Jun 30, 2011
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jophish17 from Georgia

2.5/5  rDev -26.7%

Dec 18, 2011
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jdense from Oregon

3.97/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured at Oakshire beer dinner at Wildwood, PDX, 10.21.11. Many thanks to Paul and Matt for a superlative gastronomic experience. Paired with beef and chanterelle pot pies, yummy.

Dark brown body, minimal head and no lacing, no visible carbonation. Nose is bourbon but not booze, some raisin and molasses notes, oakiness from barrels and floral hops. Taste mirrors nose, a bit on the sweet side, re burnt brown sugar, not much in the way of bitterness. Mouthfeel is almost syrupy, a bit of stickiness, on the full side of medium. I know there were a lot of complaints/concerns about this beer being too hot re alcohol at release, and that's now water under the bridge. This beer is ready to drink now. I'd be interested in seeing Matt replicate this with some other Bourbon barrels. Tasty, but I'm gonna sit on my two bottles for a bit longer.

Oct 29, 2011
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Wackyfoot from Oregon

4.44/5  rDev +30.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one twice now, first at the Bier Stein’s Bourbon Barrel Fest last week and then again graciously shared by Mike of 16 Tons at the release party on Saturday.

Poured an orangeish amber with about an inch of light brown foam.

Big aromatic notes of bourbon and is that scotch as well? Also smells of oak and vanilla, very pleasing nose.

Tasted of bourbon, oak, vanilla, malt sweetness and surprisingly little heat for something so soon out of the barrel. I thought that what I had at the Stein might have just had little heat compared to the other big beers I had that night, but I noticed the same thing the second time around.

This is a pretty awesome beer and I look forward to seeing what some time does to it. Great job, Matt and the Oakshire crew!

May 13, 2011
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Mora2000 from Texas

4/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to ericandersnavy for sharing this bottle.

With all of the negative reviews here on BA, I was expecting the worst. Luckily the bottle we had was very good, but a little bit hot. I think it would have calmed down with some more age on it.

The beer pours a hazy brown color with an off-white head. The aroma has a ton of bourbon and toffee notes, with some oak notes mixed in as well. I also get a little bit of vanilla. There is no mistaking the fact this is a bourbon barrel aged beer.

The flavor follows suit. The dominant flavors are bourbon and oak, with some vanilla, maple and toffee mixed in as well. The alcohol in the beer is somewhat hot and could use some mellowing out. Still, I think all of the flavors work very well together and make for an enjoyable beer.

Medium to thick mouthfeel and low carbonation. Very glad I got to try this one.

Dec 16, 2011
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glid02 from Georgia

4.35/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Mark – much obliged!

Pours a hazy honey-copper color with a cream-colored head that leaves decent lacing and heavy legs.

Smells of mildly sweet, deep caramel malts with large amounts of vanilla, oak, and booze. Also present are faint hints of toffee.

Tastes more well-rounded than it smells, with less booze. Smooth caramel malts up front are joined quickly by mild amounts of toffee. Midway through, large amounts of vanilla and softer oak flavors come into play. The oak fades out, allowing the vanilla and caramel malts to carry through to a mildly bitter ending. Mouthfeel is very good, with grainy carbonation.

Overall this was a very good beer. The complexity made up for it, and shows that the brewer still knows his way around a barrel. My one qualm is that the nuance of Heaven Hill wasn't able to shine as much as with others I've had aged in the same barrels. Still, it's well worth a shot.

Jul 26, 2011
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barleywinefiend from Washington

2.36/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A: Poured a murky cherry color with good carbonation leaving a dirty white cap

S: Booze, faded hops, caramel, tofee and remnanats of an old spent American BBN barrel. I know where this is going

T: Booze, bourbon, wood, Earthy notes, caramel and toffee but it is sordove murky, syrupy and the taste fades the longer it sits in the palate

M: Big body but thinner mouthfeel and hotter than I was expecting from this beer

O: Glad I was able to try it but nit exactly a beer I would not be touting this, charging anything above $10 or dipping in wax. Just sayin..

Oct 16, 2011
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Goblinmunkey7 from Massachusetts

3.52/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to robbrandes for the bottle.

Appearance: Ruddy copper reddish brown. Small off-white head drops to a tiny collar almost immediately. Crazy smooth pour with moderate carbonation off the bat.

Smell: Malts for days. Caramel, toffee, hints of molasses, vanilla, coconut, and a solid punch of oak. A slight hint of oxidation adds some sherry and an hint of raisin. Alcohol and caramelized malt sweetness. Some nice roasted malts as well. Complex sugars. A hint of dirt and damp wood thrown in for good measure.

Taste: Oak soaked caramel shortbread cookies. Biscuits, slightly buttery, and oxidized. Sherry coupled with alcohol spice and heat. Cooked and caramelized malts. Hits the full gamut of malt sweetness: sugar, caramel, toffee, a hint of molasses and brown sugar. Oak is heavy, but works to compliment the sweetness. Woody with some dirt and earth thrown in for good measure. Warming drops mega oak bombs.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a moderate carbonation. Ends up on the clean side. A bit more snap than expected.

Overall: Significantly better than a visit from Pinhead.

It's a big oaky bourbon barleywine. Hits hard on the oak, and it wears a bit too much by the end, but it's not a certified oak bomb.

Oct 13, 2013
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nmann08 from Virginia

4.25/5  rDev +24.6%

Mar 12, 2012
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DaveHS from California

3.83/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours attractive ruby color, with stained dark oak highlights. Foamy khaki head dissipates quickly, leaving minimal soapy lacing.

S-Plenty of buttery, sweet bourbon and vanilla, with a bit of heat. Smells sweet, like butterscotch pudding. Little bit of diacetyl, but it's not to the beer's detriment.

T/M-This is a little hot, and there's some dry booziness in the finish, but overall it isn't nearly as bad as people are making it out to be. Full bodied, with some bitter dry hops mid-palate. Well integrated bourbon oakiness that allows a perfectly fine barley wine to shine through.

O-Just because it isn't Wooden Hell doesn't mean it's terrible. This is an above average barrel aged barley wine. Not an excellent one, but a good one. Try to separate yourself from the hype and give it a chance.

Oct 01, 2011
Hellshire I from Oakshire Brewing
Beer rating: 81 out of 100 with 108 ratings