People often ask me what my favorite beer is, to which I reply, “What day is today?” There are simply too many styles, flavors and moods to fit each that it’s almost impossible to narrow it down to just one or two.
If it’s hot outside, I really don’t want a Russian imperial stout. If it’s frosty wintertime, I’m not reaching for a lager.
The real truth, however, is that my heart belonged to one that, alas, couldn’t be mine. An unrequited love; a longing made all the worse for the distance apart. As if an acquaintance not seen for a very long time had asked me whatever had happened to the girl whose hand I once held, and I, proud and magnanimous, dismissed the question with a nonchalant declaration that “it just didn’t work out.”
Before this article turns into a 50 Shades or some garbage, let’s be clear that I’m speaking of beer here. Very specifically Porterhouse Brewery’s Oyster Stout.
Why had I not revealed my true heart ’til now? We couldn’t legally procure any of the darn stuff until recently. This meant we couldn’t sell it. If we can’t sell it, what’s the use of me babbling about it in the hallowed pages of this fine publication?
Porterhouse can, arguably, be considered Ireland’s first commercial craft brewery. No boring, one-dimensional traditional stout here; theirs isn’t just filtered over oyster shell, there’s a lot of raw oyster that goes into the conditioning tank with the beer.
“Raw oysters in my dark beer? Why, that sounds disgusting!” cry some when I begin to tell them about it. To me, however, it makes perfect sense. Stout beer is particularly savory and the squiggly little bi-valves simply amplify that quality. Done right, the beer doesn’t actually taste like an oyster… instead, it’s been elevated to new heights from the original style.
I’ve had a few oyster stouts and my heart keeps me coming back to Porterhouse. It’s jet-black with a thin ring of egg shell foam, yet very light-bodied with soft carbonation. There’s a reason that the first time I ever had one I smelled the glass for 10 minutes before I took that first sip. So unlike any stout I’d ever had, there is flint, sea salt air, chocolate, smoke and roasted malt for days. Even more perplexing are the flavors of hibiscus and lemon iced tea mingling with the rich, smoky flavors of coffee, dark chocolate and slightly-burnt biscuit. Porterhouse finishes extremely clean and refreshing with just the slightest hint of brine and zinc in the first carbonation-induced belch.
To quote from the band Rocket From The Crypt, “I could hold you at arm’s length and complain about the distance.” So glad to have my favorite back.