Anyhoo, it looks like 2010 might be the year of oyster stouts, a style only marginally more widely brewed than gose. The first I heard of this was at Upright's blog, from early last month:
So last Thursday was one of my most memorable brew days ever - in a good way. It began a couple months ago when friend and fellow brewer Jason McAdam visited Upright to bullshit around....And now, from The Daily Pull, I see that Fort George is going for one, too. The following is from Brady's interview with the brewery's owner/brewer Jack Harris:
The only part that required a good bit of thought was how to incorporate the oysters? In the end we decided to add roughly ten gallons of oyster "liquor" that Jason picked up fresh from the coast off a train. We didn't want to brew an oyster stout without any oyster meat though so we also picked up eight dozen DeCourcy oysters from B.C. and cooked them during the kettle boil. After eating all the wort-soaked meat we cleaned and saved the shells to add later to the beer, post fermentation, like dryhopping.
I have yet to sink my teeth into either of these beers, but I'm looking forward to it. I may even have to make a road trip if Fort George isn't sending some our way.
Oyster Stouts were quite common a couple of hundred years ago. I first made this beer while working at Bill's Tavern a few years ago and the research I did at the time did not give me a very good idea of a process. I couldn't find any readily available commercial examples either. Descriptions of the beer varied from a nice stout with no discernible oyster character to a very briny flavor. My attempt at Bill's Tavern created a nice robust stout without much oyster evident. It did completely screw up my wort chiller with little shell flakes clogging everything up. I had to back-flush several times during knock-out and then strip the whole chiller down.
Our attempt here at Fort George used the same technique of putting two bushels of whole, live Willapa Bay Oysters into the hop-back (they were scrubbed very well on the outside first) and running all 8 1/2 bbls of beer through them. We made this beer on the evening of our Seafood and Belgian beer brewer’s dinner in hopes we could use them as hot appetizers, but after eating a couple they turned out to be too bitter for most palates. We were much more careful to not get oyster shell in the chiller.
Photo: Annalou Vincent