The Halftime Pint: Marston’s Oyster Stout

20120820-083717.jpgOne of the greater things about watching football in America is that most matches, especially those of the EPL, are early in the morning American time, giving people an excuse to day drink. This is part of our series discussing exactly what to drink when you’re at the pub, presented by our resident homebrewer, Keith

The Beer: Marston’s Oyster Stout, Marston’s Brewery, Burton-Upon-Trent, England

The Pub: The Queen Vic, in northeast DC

What You Need to Know: We’ve covered the basics of the stout style here before; one of the more fun additions that a brewer can make to a stout, however, is oyster shell.  Depending on the brewer, either whole shells or crushed shells are joined with the beer during a secondary round of fermentation.  In some cases, this can lead to an overpowering oyster flavor, whereas other stouts will only get a mild hint of mineral flavor (likely salts, which are perfectly common in English ales).

Marston’s PLC is, like some of the other English brewers we’ve covered, a major pub owner in the UK (with over 2,000 pubs), and is credited as being the largest cask ale brewery in the world (meaning that most of its beers are carbonated by further reactions of yeast with “priming sugar” in the keg, rather than through carbon dioxide being forced into the keg, as most commercial beers are).  The brewery was founded in 1834 by John Martson, and flourished, merging with John Thompson & Sons Ltd.  It was purchased in 1999 by Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries, who eventually adopted the Marston’s name as their own in 2007.

So, About this Beer: Pours a deep, dark black with a thin beige head that quickly dissipates. Mineral and grain on the nose. Initial roast flavors fade slightly to a brief chocolatey iced coffee flavor. Mouthfeel is thin, with carbonation levels near that of Manhattan Special; in fact, the carbonation leads to a very nice dry finish.

The Verdict:  This was an oyster stout that was surprisingly low on oyster, but the flavors that were present made it a perfect beer for late August.  The carbonation cuts through the beer really nicely, and makes it not only refreshing, but versatile in terms of pairings.  I’d definitely recommend it.

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