Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Paddy's Oyster Stout lands again!!!

What the heck is Oyster Stout? A just and fine question.
I first read about this retired beer style, called Oyster Stout in Michael Jackson's Beer Companion (no, not the singer) It was described as a brew made in the UK in the late 1800's. It was probably started by using crushed oyster shells as finings to clarify the beer by making a "raft", like when making a consomme broth. The raft sets at the top of the pot, and as it settles to the bottom, it draws the impurities with it, thus clarifying the broth. As oyster shells were used in this version, many folks thought that the resulting beer had an "oystery"taste, and they liked it. Later versions of this rare style included adding whole oysters, shell and all, just the oyster meat and liquor in various quantities to create each batch. The last commercial batch was made by the Manx Brewery of the Isle of Mann in 1965, and then Oyster Stout slid into the gullet of time...
     I discovered this while I was working at Rodney's Oyster House and thought, "Oyster Stout. If there was anywhere it could be sold, was in an oyster bar!" So I set about trying to find a local craft brewer to help me out. Most of the smallest batches that could be produced, was about 16 kegs...even if I could sell this obscure beer, I couldn't do more than one keg a month - that means making one batch a year...not the freshest around.
     Bruce Halstead of Durham county to the rescue. He had a special keg, able to screw off the neck, and add the liquor, one keg at a time. So we came up with our method of the Oyster Stout.
Approximately 4 liters of oyster liquor is saved off at Starfish. Oyster liquor is the clear liquid residing within the shells of the oyster. When it is time to make a batch, I bring the liquor up to boil and simmer for 15 minutes, cooking or pasteurizing the liquor. I then chill it over night, and hand it off to Bruce, where he adds the liquor to the keg first, then fills the rest with his Black Kat Stout, and brings it back to Starfish.
     The result is a black as night stout, that has a slightly salty nose and start, lovely roasted malts, and a sweeter finish than a dry stout. It is a little on the rich side, so it's rare that more than two are enjoyed at a sitting. Most folks who try the Oyster Stout love it, even those "stout haters" (yes, there are those folks out there,  but that's OK, that means more Stout for the rest of us). 
     Please drink responsibly, though -  as the oysters are renowned as an aphrodisiac, - Paddy's Oyster Stout may cause friskiness, and I know of only two pregnancies, post-quaffing.
Fair Warning.

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