Why pair beer with oysters? Well, our friend Mike Wiley, the James Beard Award-winning Co-Head Chef of Eventide Oyster Co., has a great answer to that question.
“As far as oysters go, you could walk into any thoughtful raw bar in the country and find enthusiastic recommendations for Muscadet, Sherry, and Chablis. None of these recommendations would be inappropriate or un-delicious, but they certainly wouldn’t be surprising or arresting.
That’s why [Allagash] Tripel is such an unexpected and capable foil for a really briny and delicate oyster. As a simple balancing act, the sweetness of the beer nicely offsets the salinity of the oyster. But, Tripel and Oysters are not simply sweet and salty, respectively. Both are prized for their complexity.”
Zach cracks a beer for an impromptu pairing
Below, you’ll find a list of some of our favorite beers to pair with oysters, and vice versa. We chose not to order this particular list, because we’ve found that almost any combination of these pairs work. It’s up to you to give them a try!
TRIPEL: This beer is our new favorite pairing for oysters. Its notes of honey and passion fruit complement the briny, complex flavor of the oyster. The carbonation in the beer also pleasantly wipes the palate clean, immediately preparing you for another bite.
HAUNTED HOUSE: This Maine-only release is our take on one of the more well-known beers to pair with oysters: a stout. Its balance of roasty malt, hops, and delicate Belgian esters are amplified by the oyster’s savory flavor. And vice versa.
ALLAGASH WHITE: We can’t lie, we love Allagash White. Something about the spice and citrus notes seem to call for the briny juxtaposition of an oyster or two.
SAISON: Saison is a pairing machine, from oysters to buffalo wings. Saison has a flavor that not only holds up to, but complements more dishes than we can count. Its notes of spice and bone-dry finish gives your taste buds a clean slate that calls for seconds (or thirds).
SOME OYSTERS WE’RE FANS OF:
JOHNS RIVER: Grown in the Johns River estuary, these hand-planted beauties offer up a sublime balance of brine and meat. If you can find them, order them.
NORTH HAVEN: Clocks in with a mid-sized shell. A plump oyster that carries salt and sweet in spades.
BASKET ISLAND: These smaller oysters punch well above their weight. A nice and even salinity finishes clean, urging on another helping.
ISLAND CREEK: Hailing from MA, these oysters are a New England powerhouse. Briny, with a hint of seaweed and a clean-as-a-whistle aftertaste.
NONESUCH: A mossy-looking shell holds a meaty bite with hints of grass and earth coming from the natural salt marsh in which these oysters grown.
NEW MEADOW: From Bath, ME, these beautiful oysters provide a well-rounded bite. The tiger-striped alabaster shells hold a generous portion of meat for their size.
PEMAQUID: A nearly ubiquitous oyster—and for good reason. Robust brown shells with substantial cups. A big oyster matched by its substantial mix of salty sweetness.
OTTER COVE: Its sweeping green-brown shell holds medium-to-large meat. Plump and crisp with a light brine from the cold, swift current of the Damariscotta river.