Although Oysters in beer may be a newer phenomenon, Oysters paired with beer, specifically stouts has been around for quite some time. In the early 1900s in England, pub customers would accompany their Oysters with a Stout beer. The idea to incorporate Oysters into the recipe however has a few different origins.
Some say the Oyster Stout history began in the late 1800s when brewers found out that the shell of an oyster is packed with calcium carbonate, which could be used to purify and improve the beer while brewing. The story of who first decided to add the oyster meat to a beer's boil wort traces back to someone somewhere in New Zealand around the year 1929.
So what exactly is an Oyster Stout? It is a dark beer that uses real oysters and oyster shells. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, the beer style is placed in the sweet Stout category. Though at one point the oysters were used for clarifying purposes, modern Oyster Stouts add them for the purpose of flavoring. Before you get scared away, lets clarify that adding oysters or oyster shells to a stout doesn't produce a funky, salty, slimy brew, but rather a rich, semi-sweet beer with a light oceanic essence. The Oyster Stouts with full oysters are more flavored, whereas Oyster Stouts that only make use of the shells have far more subtle flavors.
This unique beer style continued to be quite unusual throughout the 20th century, but today the style is more widely seen and popular. The Oyster Stout style is highly respected by craft brewers in America who are always looking for unique ways to differentiate themselves and enter a new craft beer niche.
Some great existing examples today are: Flying Dog's Pearl Necklace, 21st Amendment's Marooned On Hog Island, Porter House Brewing's Oyster Stout, and Great Lakes Brewing Company's Imperial Oyster Stout, which has an ABV of 11%. When it comes to pairing, it doesn't require much thinking since of course the best match is Oysters. The toasty Stout and briny Oysters just compliment each other so well, it’s hard to think of a better pair!
Check out this unique beer style by joining our monthly beer club. Enjoy!