Brett Pale & Oysters

oysters and beer Behold the beautiful and delicious oyster in its glory, the cool months of the year. This week I’m featuring some lovely locally harvested oysters from the Hama Hama Company from Lilliwaup, Wash. Undeniably, oysters pair well with a lot of fermented beverages: there are arguments for stouts, dry ciders, sparkling wine, dry white wines and vodka. I’ve tried all these things, and all these things are all fantastic–perhaps, a testament to the rockstar flavors of oysters. A few months ago I happened into pairing oysters with a Brett Pale–a Belgian styled, yeast-focused beer with a light level of sourness and a light funkiness. The aroma of the beer alone pairs amazingly well with oysters. I highly suggest giving this one a try.

Three Reasons Why This Pairing Works

  1. Oysters are often quite briny and salty, although each type is quite different depending on where they come from, type of water, time of year and so forth. Brininess brings some things in beer to the forefront: floral hop notes, which may otherwise be more muted in a brett ale, toasted malt flavors and fruity yeast esters. Essentially, the oyster can help you taste deeper levels within the beer. Fun, right?
  2. Many beers involving wild yeasts are bottle conditioned, which gives them a lightweight feel on the tongue and often a higher level of carbonation. Think champagne. The carbonation and delicate sparkle is really useful for refreshing the palate and cleansing your tastebuds between oysters. Because in addition to every type of oyster being unique, every individual oyster you try can be quite singular in flavor. That’s part of the joy of shellfish!
  3. Brettanomyces can generate a lot of different flavors, but its more reserved earthy notes are particularly suited to contrast nicely with oysters’ oceanic personalities. It’s a surf and turf of intoxicants and aphrodisiacs. Win and more win. 

brett pale and oysters

I love The Commons Brewery’s Flemish Kiss for this pairing, but other Belgian or Belgian-inspired ales would be great. Orval would also be a lovely choice, as would a range of beers from Seattle’s Holy Mountain Brewing and Portland’s Upright Brewing.

Hama Hama’s oysters are highly recommended and available around the Seattle region, but please seek out oysters  local to you, wherever you are, if possible. Raw oysters are fantastic for delicate flavor and ultimate freshness but if you prefer cooked oysters (or only have those recommended for cooking available), the pairing will still work. Savor away! 

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