The Porterhouse Brewing Company - Oyster Stout
- ABV: 4.6%
- Serving Temperature: 50-55° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass or Mug
- Malts: Pale Malt, Roast Barley, Black Malt, Flaked Barley
- Hops: Galena, Nugget, East Kent Goldings
Originally just a term for the stouts served alongside oysters in British pubs, “oyster stout” has evolved as a style over time. 19th century brewers began using crushed oyster shells as a clarifier, but eventually they began adding the shells to the beer as it boiled – imparting a slight salinity and minerality to the beer. At some point early in the 20th century, some brewers started using the oysters themselves – which is exactly what Porterhouse does, shucking whole fresh oysters into the conditioning tanks. Pouring a deep, dark brown – almost black – with a robust head of persistent light brown foam, this stout offers up quite a bold and complex nose, with prominent herbal-spicy botanical notes akin to anise and mint leading the way. Combined with a significant chocolaty maltiness, we got an impression of mint-chocolate after-dinner candies, underpinned by a somewhat saline character. The herbal-chocolate interplay is key in the flavor department too, but look for a deceptively complex array of complementary elements as well. As is typical with oyster stouts, we don't pick up any tell-tale oyster flavors per se, but there is a mineral edge here, along with hints of berry, wood, char, and rosemary. Despite the complex flavors and dark malts, this stout avoids any heaviness on the palate, remaining light enough to be easily sessionable, like we expect in any traditional Irish stout. For food pairings, there is no more classic match than stout and oysters, and this is perhaps even more true when it's an oyster stout one has at hand. Other matches include chocolate covered caramels with sea salt, buttery cheeses, spicy barbecued meats, or roast lamb with rosemary. Sláinte!
The Porterhouse Brewing Company got its start with the opening of the original Porterhouse pub and restaurant in Bray, Ireland in 1989. Instead of serving only the usual run-of-the-mill beers, founders Liam LaHart and Oliver Hughes took an interest in imports, particularly the superb offerings from Belgium. Despite the well-known drinking culture in Ireland, the dominant beers at the time were all from huge breweries and global conglomerates, and the pair aimed to put a dent in that. In 1996 they opened another location in the Temple Bar area of Dublin, into which they installed their own brewing system, making the location Dublin’s first brewpub. Additionally, they went all-in on craft beer, refusing to stock the big brands, and humorously naming one of their new brewing creations Weiserbuddy.
Many industry experts scoffed at the idea of a bar which refused to serve established brands in favor of small-batch brews, but Porterhouse has certainly had the last laugh. Their business has been so successful that in the succeeding years they have opened several other Porterhouse locations in Ireland and London, plus several small tapas bars under the related “Port House” brand, as well as a Porterhouse location in New York’s famed Fraunces Tavern – the oldest building in Manhattan and a meeting place of the Sons of Liberty.
Porterhouse is still dedicated to small-batch brewing using the best ingredients available and no shortcuts. Their barley malt comes from Athy in nearby County Kildare, and they embrace the use of renewable energy and donate spent grain to local livestock farmers. Under brewmaster Peter Mosley, the brewery crafts as many as 15 year-round, seasonal, and specialty brews in a variety of both traditional Irish styles, such as dry stout and red ale, as well as other popular styles including pale ale, barleywine, and black lager. For more info on the brewery and their variety of pub locations, visit www.theporterhouse.ie.
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