O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none –
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.
~ The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll
So I read the other day that oysters are on the decline in a very major way, and in the synchronicity of all things, the next day I run across a bottle of oyster stout from the Flying Dog Brewery, which, of course, I must buy, damn the decline!
This stout is brewed with oysters from the Rappahannock River in Virginia, but to assuage any guilt you may feel about being party to the end of the ancient bivalve, proceeds from the sale of Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout, as it is called, benefit the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration project (chesapeakebay.net, which will tell you the decline of the oyster is due to many factors, but almost all of those factors point to too many people eating oysters and polluting their environment, which is really just one thing – too many people).
This is an excellent stout with a deep roasted barley presence. I guess I was expecting something briny, but I hadn’t read the label when I bought it. Of course river oysters wouldn’t taste of the briny sea. Maybe just a little something on the very back end, a little like a smoked oyster? I think so. Yes, there it is…but you really have to search for it.
I have to wonder what a beer-drinking vegetarian would do if confronted by this amazing stout.
And I also have to wonder how sea monkeys taste in beer?
* * *
Kostritzer Schwarzbier is Germany’s No. 1 black lager beer. How do I know that? It says so right on the 500 ml can. This is a very soft and light black lager, with late-finishing dark coffee tones, followed by a little hop bite.
It’s a good beer and highly quaffable, but the standard for dark lager was set very high for me when I had the privilege of taking a beer tour of the Czech Republic a few years ago. Our first stop was the city of České Budějovice, home of Budějovický Budvar (Budweiser Budvar Brewery). While the beer produced there is known in much of the world as Budweiser Budvar, in the United States only one beer can be called Budweiser, and it’s not from České Budějovice.
Anyway, the brewery makes one of the world’s great pilsners, soft and full of spicy Saaz hops. When I was there, longtime brewmaster Josef Tolar and his crew had just re-introduced a dark lager that hadn’t been made at the brewery since 1953, and it was simply incredible. I sampled many other delicious Czech beers from big brewers and craft brewers during the trip, but I always went back to the dark Budvar. It was like drinking a soft summer night.
Unfortunately, you could only get the dark lager in the Czech Republic and Finland. It might have expanded to other markets by now, but I’ve not seen it in the U.S.
In lieu of that, Kostritzer will have to do.