Getting To Know Oyster Stout, A Beer Made With Oysters

photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilconway/">neil conway</a> on Flickr

Chocolate in beer simply makes sense — especially in rich, heavy stouts and porters that already taste something like a liquid brownie. And cherries in a sour beer is a tart and summery idea — a perfect marriage. Even yerba mate, that bitter tea-like herb of Argentina, is a sensible fit in an IPA. But just what was the brewer was thinking who first put oysters into a vat of boiling brew?

Oyster stouts could easily play the part of just another wild concoction stewed up in the modern heights of craft brewing madness. However, they’ve actually got honest, time-tested roots going back more than a century to Victorian England, when many pub-goers ate oysters on the half shell while sipping their favorite beers. Often, these were stouts, whose bittersweet toasty flavors happened to complement the briny, juicy flesh of the mollusks quite well. For a time, in fact, “oyster stout” was simply a term that referred to a pub session at which oysters were slurped between sips of beer.

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