wpid-img_20150117_181441.jpgThe oyster stout is a style of beer that has caught my attention over the last few months. I’m not sure when I first heard of the style, but it has to be over the last 6 months or so. I don’t think I knew about it when I was in Boston last March, sucking back oysters by the tray full and enjoying their lively craft beer scene, or even when I was in New Orleans, splurging on oysters and letting Kole order potent cocktails. The idea definitely didn’t cross my mind in Dubai, where I essentially ate my weight in oysters. I think Kole only tried his first oyster about 2 years ago (if even) at the ROM.

This is the first time I’ve had a full bottle of oyster stout. I know I tried some at Indie Ale House‘s Stout Night, and I’m pretty sure Amsterdam made some as a one-off. Barley Days Brewery from Picton, ON (south of Belleville on Lake Ontario) has caught my attention on the last few visits to the LCBO, but I’ve always been a tad too nervous to pick up a 6-pack. A 6-pack is more commitment than I’m usually willing to make on a beer, since I like to try a larger variety for the website. 6x 341 ml bottles will set you back $14.25 at the LCBO, one of the pricier Ontario 6-packs. Of course it’s going to cost a little more – Barley Days tossed 1500 whole Green Gables Malpeque Oysters (Ocean Wise sustainable seafood) from New London Bay, PEI right into the boil. At only 4% ABV, this is a light stout that packs a lot into such a small bottle. We sampled this in balloon-style glasses.

We were sold on the decision to try this one out at the Summerhill LCBO. We spent a ridiculous amount of time at the location on a Saturday afternoon that included some Spanish wine and paella samples, some Scotch & Japanese whisky samples, and some ice wine samples. As we pondered the woefully lacking cider selection, we noticed a sampling table being set up with Scrimshaw Oyster Stout and Yuletide Cherry Porter. We were told we had to be patient until the food option arrived. Expecting palate cleansing pretzels, we wandered around the beer section for a bit, until we noticed oysters being chucked. But of course! A sampling of the two together quickly influenced our dinner decisions, and before we knew what was happening, we were sitting at home with a box of 33 Beausoleil oysters from Loblaws and a 6-pack of Scrimshaw.

I used to think that seafood only paired with white wine. But the briny flavours of mussels and oysters pair wonderfully with a host of beers, and some of my favourite haunts in the city pair the two wonderfully. Why not? We were celebrating the first paycheque of 2015, Kole getting a raise, and me doing well at the new-ish job. Bring on the oysters and stouts!wpid-img_20150117_181849.jpg

Appearance: Dark pour, frothy head. Froth fades pretty fast.
Aroma: Briny, salty aroma with underlying stout notes of coffee.
Taste: Rich, toasted malt flavour. A definite briny and salty flavour from the oysters, you can definitely tell they’re included in the boil. The earthy flavours of the toasted malt pair wonderfully with the salty flavours of the sea.

Aftertaste: Chocolate and salty finish. I like salted chocolate so this really works for me.

Overall: If you like oysters and stout, pick up a 6-pack. If either idea makes you squeamish, move right along and leave some more for me. We highly suggest pairing it with oysters, which are surprisingly easy to chuck at home.

Shawna O'Flaherty

Shawna is a 30-something Montreal native transplanted to Toronto in 2010. Wine loving, beer sniffing and rum swilling come naturally to her, and she is also a certified Irish whiskey taster. She has hosted beer and cheese pairing events in the past.

Shawna has visited vineyards in 6 countries on 3 continents, and has a knack for finding the hoppiest beers around.

She can be found drinking alka-seltzer and coconut water in the morning.

Email: shawna@torontoboozehound.com