Tasting: March 14, 2013
Style: Stout (Oyster)
Oyster stout —
Is it stout that was brewed to go with oysters?
or is it stout made with oysters?
Argument 1. Made to go with oysters. Oysters and stout were the common pub fare of the 18th century. Probably equivalent to beer and buffalo wings today. Early pub goers raved about the combination of the briny oyster and the roasted flavor of stout. In 1837, former British Prime Minister Disraeli described having Guinness and oysters as the cornerstone of the most remarkable day of his life.
Argument 2. Stout made with oysters. Beer historian, Michael Jackson attributed the use of oysters as part of a movement by brewers to make their beer appear as a nutritious, healthy drink. Oyster stout joined milk stout and oatmeal stout as part of the marketing deception. Marston’s was the only oyster stout that I can recall having the claim of being made with oysters — but they admittedly just use the shells. Others have attempted adding oyster flesh to the boil — but don’t report good results. Why shells? It was believed to have acted as a clarifying agent before filtration.
The likely evolution is akin to the peanut butter cup — both tasty on their own, someone likes how they taste together and ultimately someone attempts to package them as a single product. But a fishy beer?
This is another oyster stout that uses shells. Like other 21st Amendment labels, this label offers a tale of a couple of pirates that jump ship because of the bad beer being served. They meet up with oyster farmers and create an oyster stout from the shells of sweet water oysters. It checks in at 7.9% ABV. Dark cola brown pour with a strong burnt toast nose. Maybe it’s psychosomatic but under that first punch of roasted/burnt flavor, it tasted mineral and salty. I can’t imagine they would use that many oyster shells – but who knows? As it opens up, that flavor recedes somewhat and I get quick a nice balance of chocolate, coffee, vanilla over some grassy hop flavor. It is a bit watery for my liking. This one is shock and awe up front and that mineral salty flavor keeps me from digging what I like about this stout. Maybe this would be a good compliment to oysters – but I don’t have any handy. It’s still a solid — 85 points.