Harpoon, Island Creek Oyster Stout

Grade: B

In the candy and dessert world, it’s long been said that adding a little salt to chocolate will make the flavor explode on your tongue. So it would stand to reason that the addition of the briny, salty oysters would have the same effect on the chocolate and coffee notes of a stout. Almost like adding MSG to a beer (for all you Always Sunny fans, please refrence Season 3, Episode 6).

A dark tan head tops an obsidian dark beer, falling to a creamy layer that laces the glass incredibly well. Chocolate, coffee, roast, wheat, oats, and bread are in the aroma. There’s another element there as well, but it’s hard to put my finger on it. It’s almost salty, which I guess could be some brine from the oysters.

Roast, almost too aggressive in the upfront flavor, but it gives way to the coffee and chocolate. Both of these flavors are carried well by the medium, almost creamy body and mouthfeel. Despite the fullness of the mouthfeel, the finish is nicely dry, and there is more tingle from carbonation than I expected. The acidity from the bubbles cuts through some of the creaminess and aids the roast in coming forward. There is a bit of sweetness in the middle palate, but next to the big coffee and roast flavors, it’s actually very pleasant.

Never having had oysters, I can’t say for a fact that oyster flavor is the x-factor here. But I would be willing to bet that unless you were told, you probably wouldn’t realize oysters were used at all. Instead this is a classic, expertly made stout, with a little something else. Enough to make you pause in mid-sip and say, “wow, I like this, but I have no idea why.”

I don’t know who got the crazy idea to toss a bunch of oysters into a stout, but I’m sure glad they did.