From the Bottle Collection: Whitstable Oyster Stout

DSCN0521

By Ken Carman

  Without intent, I have collected well over 1,000 beer bottles since the early 70s. When something finally had to be done about the cheap paneling in this old modular, I had a choice. Tear down the walls while, oh, so carefully, replacing the often rotted 1X3s. Or: cover them with… The Bottle Collection.


Rated 62 at Rate Beer and 42 for style.
83 at Beer Advocate.


  I really enjoy Oyster Stouts, and that seems counter intuitive. Really? Oysters in beer? I must admit, being a beer judge, that no longer seems as weird as it used to. You wouldn’t believe some of the weird beers I’ve judged.
 I also think it could be easy for this “adjunct” to take over the recipe, though not as easy as the smoked salmon beer a friend submitted (I found out later it was his) and I judged. As I wrote on the form, “I think the salmon swam away with the recipe.”
  The Swale Brewery is apparently defunct, as far as I can tell from research, but when this bottle was sold it brewed the Whitstable beers. Now there actually is a Whitstable Brewery, but I’m pretty sure the bottle is older than 3-4 years the new Whitstable says they’ve been open. This bottle lists their address as Kent, the new one as Maidstone, and the addresses are not even close to being the same in other ways.
  Oyster Stout usually has a somewhat oily, briny sense, for obvious reasons. I have found it compliments the stout.
  Here is what Wiki says about Oyster Stout…

Oysters have had a long association with stout. When stouts were emerging in the 18th century, oysters were a commonplace food often served in public houses and taverns. By the 20th century, oyster beds were in decline, and stout had given way to pale ale.
  The first known use of oysters as part of the brewing process of stout was in 1929 in New Zealand, followed by the Hammerton Brewery in London, UK, in 1938.[33]
  Modern oyster stouts may be made with a handful of oysters in the barrel, hence the claim of one establishment, the Porterhouse Brewery in Dublin, that their award-winning Oyster Stout was not suitable for vegetarians.[34] Others, such as Marston’s Oyster Stout, use the name with the implication that the beer would be suitable for drinking with oysters.


  Here’s a short history from Food Republic…

  But how oysters managed to find their way into the beer is a murkier story. It seems that late in the 1800s, brewers discovered that oyster shells, rich in calcium carbonate, served as an effective clarifying agent for finished beer poured over heaps of the crushed, briny pub litter. Later still, some unknown brewer took things up another notch and added the shells during the boil, along with the barley and hops. With that, oyster shells had become an ingredient in brewing. The biggest leap of all was yet to come, though. Just who it was that first added the slippery oyster meat itself into the boiling beer wort, no one seems to know — but multiple sources say it first happened somewhere in New Zealand in 1929. Thus, the mutation was complete: The oyster stout was born, evolving from a happy hour advertising term into a full-fledged experimental beer.


  Most Oyster Stouts I’m had are either Dry, or Extra. I would think Oatmeal would be an interesting style to attempt to brew an Oyster Stout with:smooth, almost creamy with a body filled out by oatmeal… kind of like a chewy oyster with a briny addition, eh?
  I don’t remember this specific beer, but usually I do if I’m disappointed, or amazed, so I’m guessing, “Typical for the style.”