Abita SELECT Series “Oyster Stout”

December 6, 2011

I’d share with you, dear readers, my thoughts on my favorite beer in the whole wide world – Porterhouse Oyster Stout – but I can’t. It’s not available in Florida for some reason. If we can’t buy it without participating in some Arthurian quest, then why bother?

I wish I could go in depth over its deep and expressive smells and how, the first time I ever had a glass of it, I literally spent about ten minutes smelling the beer before I even took a sip. To inform the audience as to how each time I stuck my nose into the glass I detected something new like sea salt air, flint or chocolaty smoke… that would be ideal to convey.

If only the point wasn’t moot, I could describe to you its liquid silk texture delivering savory and slightly briny flavors of… you know what? Heck with it. The Porterhouse can be my template, my Rosetta Stone, to which all others can be compared. We’ll see how it stands up to Abita’s newest Select Series beer.

And, yes, the beer is made with oysters. Abita’s Imperial Oyster Stout has a half-pound of raw Louisiana oyster added to the brew kettle for every 5 gallons of beer. No, it doesn’t taste strongly of seafood, either.

Pairing a dark beer is almost paradox to the usual beverage matches for oysters – champagne, sauvignon blanc and vodka – but its smoky and savory flavors bring out the best in the squiggly little bivalves’ mineral and salt profile. As a fan of both beer and oysters, I’m always ecstatic when I find a marriage of the two.

While Porterhouse is dark brown in color with a tan head leaving sticky lacing, Abita is new-car black with a beige head and minimal lacing. The real show is in the beer’s noses. I adore Porterhouse’s above-mentioned smells so I was eager to compare it to Abita. More straight-up Imperial Stout in style, it exhibits roasted grain, some cocoa and a tiny hint at any brininess. My first ever Porterhouse inspired me to pen my longest-ever review on beeradvocate.com where I positively obsessed over how unlike a stout it is in flavor; smoke and iced tea giving way to hibiscus flower and lemon with that salty hit showing up in the first burp. Abita stays a lot more traditional with toffee, espresso and dark chocolate. Unfortunately, I don’t find very much ocean in their beer.

If anything, Abita strikes a nice bitter counterpoint to the big roasted-yet-sweet flavors found here. Not fully the oyster stout I was hoping it would be but an amazing stout nonetheless. By the way, being a Select Series beer means you aren’t going to find this in stores. It only shows up in places that sell lots of good beer on tap.