When it comes to oysters and beer, the classic pairing has always been a nice dry Irish Stout next to a tray of icy bivalves. I mean, it’s hard not to drool thinking about mignonette, horseradish, lemon, cocktail sauce, and a pint of the dark stuff, complete with a tan pillowy head billowing over the top.
For a brewery like Gunwhale Ales, marrying oysters and stout together in the brewing process is more than just an experiment, it’s a culinary delight. “We used ten pounds of fresh oysters in the boil,” says brewer Derek Testerman. “Afterward, one of our friends picked some of the creatures out and ate ’em!” For a predominantly IPA and Saison brewery, getting that first stout release was a great move considering the cool-wet season we’re having.
When it comes to an oyster stout, something magical happens when a little sea is introduced to a dark and roasty beverage: it’s like sunrise on a stormy beach, where a tinge of oceanic complexity peeks out like getting misted from a wave crashing on nearby rocks. The flavors keep you coming back wave after wave, the lacing on the glass moving down with each sip like low tide.
Shellmaker Oyster Dry Stout is their new beer, and it’s on tap at Gunwhale Ale’s new tasting room near South Coast Plaza. At only 5.5% ABV, the beer is reminiscent of sessionable dry Irish stout. Using some flaked and toasted barley, it’s incredibly easy to drink with a subtle roast, fruity ale yeast character, followed by a dry finish. It’s completely pint-worthy and delicious.
Although pairing the beer with oysters might be the obvious choice, I suggest something beachy/desserty like a chocolate covered banana, or beach-pit smores. Get the beer for a limited time, as the group is already focusing on their next culinary beer project.