#14 Three Boys Oyster Stout

Three Boys Oyster Stout Name: Oyster Stout
Brewery: Three Boys (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Style: Oyster Stout
ABV: 6.2%
Source: Glengarry Ponsonby

I said earlier today that my palate wasn’t refined enough to pick up on things like oyster flavours in a beer, and I thought I’d just make absolute sure of that by taste-testing a Three Boys Oyster Stout.
The things I do in the name of research!

The Oyster Stout does indeed contain Bluff oysters, which to me seems both wonderfully decadent and borderline bonkers.

I’ve just done a bit of research (Wiki’d it) and apparently the first known use of oysters in the brewing process was in 1929 in New Zealand. Cor, first that, now Rex Attitude – Kiwi brewers certainly are are a pioneering bunch!

Apparently the protein in the oysters give the beer a bit more body*… and a lot of people say that if you drink more than six of them you will actually start talking like a pirate. Nah, nobody says that, some people do that they can detect a hint of sea/brine/oysters when they drink it though.

The OS pours an almost pitch-black with a decent tan head. It smells of bitter roasted coffee, and dark chocolate. Once in the mouth I also got other subtle flavours – soy sauce, little a herby/medicinal note (licorice?) and something like the strong, dark treacle that my grandma used to give me on a spoon as a kid. It’s slightly spicy with a nice bitter kick at the end, and has a smooth, full mouth feel. Unfortunately – or perhaps actually quite fortunately, I just couldn’t pick up on any shellfish.

Arrr, matey, ’tis a fine stout indeed!

*According to my dad people used to put dead rats in cider for the same purpose. Somehow less appealing, no?

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Published in: on August 22, 2011 at 9:39 am  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I think your dad is perpertraiting a cider house myth , legs of ham in scrumpy yes, but not rats.

  2. Nope it isn’t a myth, it’s actually quite reasonable. Apple juice contains relatively little nitrogen, and yeast needs nitrogenous stuff to work properly. Sometimes nitrogen levels get so low that fermentation stops, a so called stuck fermentation. Today we can add nitrogen in the form of yeast nutrient but before this was available the addition of protein could do the trick. Meat will get the fermentation going again. After an initial settling period in a keeve the old time cidermakers would ferment in the barrel. It’s impossible to get a leg of ham through a bunghole! And anyway the leg of ham would be more precious than the barrel of cider! What better than a small four legged creature popped in. The animal dissolves completely, bones and all. The carbonation and alcohol kill any bugs. A nineteenth century farmhouse scrumpy maker would have had no squeamishness in using something the cat brought in, today we think it’s a revolting idea, wagyu beef or ham perhaps but not a rat! The old scrumpy makers were more
    sensible than we give them credit for!
    Today things have changed , in fact for goodciders, we try to ferment with low nitrogen
    so as to kill off the yeast before all the sugar
    has gone, that way we can end up with a
    naturally sweet cider. Most / all sweet cider in n
    is either sugared or pasteurized before
    fermentation is complete. The French use a
    natural process called defecation, or in England
    keeving to try to deplete nitrogen levels. That’s why good French ciders retain some sweetness without being pasteurised.

  3. I think dad needs to start his own cider blog, yes?

  4. Im afraid I still sceptical. Yes meat for fermentation health much like medieval ale brewers adding cockeral for the same reason. A quick google comes up with legs of mutton (diced?), (I have anecdotally heard of ham but perhaps you are right about the value of such an addition) and chicken blood. There are many mythlike tales of rats falling in drunk but that still reeks of bar room / marketers tall stories to me.

    défécation , the french would! 🙂

  5. I guess the other reason for adding protein to the cider is to hasten the yeast fermentation so as to reduce the likelihood of acetification. This is one of the problems with old style farmhouse scrumpy where not much care went into the air exposure / sterilization. I’d be interested in making a three rats cider next season but I guess it wouldn’t have much saleability…

  6. I’d buy it so long as it was really expensive. People pay $35 for a bottle of beer made using civet droppings, people might do the same for rat cider. It’s an Emperors New Clothes type scenario…

  7. Forgot to say that the term defecation was used by the English in the 17th century to describe the clearing of cider, the word keeving came later, I suppose when defecation took on a double meaning!


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