Years ago I remember reading how oysters and stout pair so well together. This is true and this not a new thing. In the 18th century when porters and stouts were the mainstay, oysters were cheap and plentiful and the working class discovered how the briny and mineral flavors melded so well with the dry roasted flavors of the ale. Eventually pale ales became the dominant style and the cost of oysters rose.
Leave it up to the Americans to rediscover the perfect match and combine the two together to form an oyster stout.
Last November, Flying Dog Brewery from Frederick, MD released an Oyster Stout brewed with Rappahannock Oysters harvested in the region. The beer was well received so Flying Dog decided to offer their Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout as a year round product.
Besides the stout tasting pretty damn good, every time you drink a bottle, you contribute to an important cause. Proceeds from the beer benefit the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP), one of the region’s leading nonprofits restoring oysters back into the Chesapeake Bay.
The ORC’s mission: Restoring Our Oyster. Cleaning Our Bay. Preserving
One of the things I learned about oysters is how important they are to the environment. Here is how oysters can help our environment:
- Filtering (adult oysters filter up to 2.5 gallons of water per hour, improving water quality in the process)
- Providing habitat (oysters build reefs, which provide habitat for fish, shrimp, crabs, and other animals)
- Controlling erosion (oyster reefs are natural breakwaters that protect shorelines).
Pearls are formed inside a mollusk’s shell from foreign material. What happens is the oyster responds to the irritant by producing nacre, calcium and protein. The nacre protects the oyster from the foreign material by covering the sand, floating food or other material with the nacre, and over time produces a pearl.
There was a time when pearls were hunted and harvested wild but most oysters are produced with the help of a hand. The harvester cuts a small slit into the mantle’s tissue and inserts a foreign material into the mantle. For freshwater pearls, a slit is cut into fresh water mussels and no foreign material is needed for the creation of a pearl.
10 things you didn’t know about oysters
When you are as busy with the ladies as Casanova is, you need to recharge your sexual energy so he relied on the power of the mollusk. After all, wasn’t it Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was born from an oyster?
2- Oysters are trans-gender
Actually, it is quite difficult to determine the gender of an oyster. This is because the gonads, located near the digestive system, produce both sperm and eggs. Hey, I don’t judge.
3 – Myth – Oysters and other shellfish should be eaten only in months with an “r” in them. I believed this to be true. The only truth in this is that they may not taste as yummy as the “R” month’s oysters. This is the case with the US at least. Under commercial raising and harvesting conditions, oysters and other shellfish are safe and good to eat any month of the year.
4 – Pearls are not always created naturally. Most pearls created by mollusks are produced with human help. In fact, only 1 out of 10,000 mollusks will produce a pearl in the wild.
5 – Oyster shells can be recycled. After 2-3 weeks of development, Oyster larvae may end up great distances from where they were released. After development, young oysters attach to a hard substrate, ideally another oyster shell. Unfortunately there are not enough shells to attach to, mainly because adult oysters that have been harvested interrupt the cycle. The Oyster Recovery Partnership Shell Recycling Alliance collected nearly 2 million oyster shells in less than one year and has enough to plant more than 20 million oysters back into the bay.
6 – The largest oyster in the world. An oyster over five inches is considered large. A record 13-inches long, six-inch wide oyster was found in Humboldt Bay, California, by Richard Mesce in 2008. Try sucking down that on the half shell!
7 – The most oysters to be eaten. Colin Shirlow (UK) ate 233 oysters in three minutes at the World Oyster Eating Championship in Hillsborough, County Down, Northern Ireland. Look out Casanova.
8 – How do oysters breath? Oysters breathe much like fish, using both
gills and mantle. The mantle is lined with many small, thin-walled blood vessels which extract
oxygen from the water and expel carbon dioxide.
5.5 abv. Fresh Rappahannock River Oysters.
Pearl Necklace pours jet black, opaque with a creamy soft peak foam. Strong head with nice lacing. Foam color resembles the center of a malt ball.
Aroma starts off with milk chocolate, sort of like Kalua and finishes briny.
Mouthfeel was beyond full and creamy. Roasted malt, coats entire mouth with creamy unsweetened cocoa and finishes with lingering coffee bitterness that sticks to the back of the throat. Carbonation was soft. The oysters are so well-balanced that if I didn’t tell you they were there you wouldn’t know. Flying Dog produced a perfect pairing all in one bottle.
What are your experiences with oysters and have you had an oyster stout yet? FYI…the next time you are at a bar or restaurant and you see a beer you have never tried, ask for a taste. The bartender will be glad to pour an ounce for you to try.
Patrick Huff is the co author of Crafty And The Beast