Style Profile: Oyster Stout

Posted on January 5th, 2010

Oysters in beer? Yup, it’s true. Although it might seem strange, stouts with oysters in them have been around for almost 100 years. With their rich yet mellow flavor and sometimes grainy texture, stouts and porters have long been known as great beers to pair with oysters. Famed 19th century UK prime minister Benjamin Disraeli was known to frequently enjoy this delicious combo, but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that someone thought to combine the two.

The first stout with oysters in it was brewed in New Zealand in 1929. The brewer added a handful of oyster meat right into the boil and hoped for the best. Fortunately the boiling and filtering process removes any trace of actual shellfish in your pint, and the flavor remains.

In 1938, a London brewery by the name of Hammerton created the first oyster stout in England, which was soon followed by several other breweries, including the Castletown Brewery on the Isle of Man.  By the 1960’s, this style and the Hammerton brewery was all but extinct. Fortunately a new brewery on the Isle of Man, Bushy’s, revived the tradition in the mid-1980’s. The beer is regrettably only available on the tiny island in the Irish sea, but from what I hear, if you can get a hold of it you’ll love it.

The oyster stout remains quite rare, but there are some craft brewers who have produced it from time to time. Rogue and Dogfish Head have each done one-off batches of the style, but finding them might be difficult. Yards Brewing Co. in Philly is known to use oysters in their Love Stout. There are also some so-called “oyster stouts” like Marstons‘ that do not contain actual oysters but are designed to be paired with the shellfish.

What do you think of oyster stout? Does the idea sound disgusting or delicious? If you know of where to find some in your area, let us know in the comments or on twitter.

  • tastyCHOMP

    Ryan:

    A brewery in PDX called Upright Brewing just did an oyster stout. They shucked a ton of Pacific NW oysters and added the liquor to the boil. Also, they tossed in some of the meat for good measure.

    It won't be ready for another month of so but once it's done aging I'll be sure to try some and let you know. You can read more about it on the brewer's blog:

    http://uprightbrewingblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/

    Cheers,

    Justin