Saturday, April 5, 2008

Oysters and Ireland

Last week as I was typing my Beer People Session piece a txt message came thru from Adam that the Malthouse had just put Three Boys Oyster Stout on handpump*. I jumped into a cab and was down at the bar within the hour.

Three Boys is a small micro in Christchurch. It’s the creation of Ralph Bungard and the two other boys in question are his two sons. Ralph brews a Pils, Wheat beer, Porter and IPA which when in form are very good kiwiafied examples of the styles. It is however the seasonals that really get me going and for autumn and early winter its Oyster Stout.

Every year for the Bluff Oyster season Ralph brews a strong (6.2%abv) dry stout which he hints he adds oysters to in some way or form. He has never been cornered on exactly how he adds the bivalves however through perception or suggestion there is certainly a salty sea like character that comes through in the beer when ever I drink it. This is the first year the beer has been offered on draught and I believe the Malthouse are the only place to have it.

Three Boys Oyster Stout 6.2%abv

Aroma features Milk chocolate, and a touch of bitter spicy coffee. On the palate there is more chocolate, a touch of sour milk, and an oily saline character, sweet nutty malt and a hint of frying vegetable oil ends on a mild roast note. Fantastic beer, the serving method suggests how fantastic this would be cask conditioned.

One of the interesting things I noticed while at the bar ordering the Oyster Stout was a beer I had seen discussed on The Beer Nuts blog recently from a brewery who’s beer I usually like. Carlow Brewing is one of the few Irish Micros (only?) to have its beers make it to NZ. When in good form the O’Harra’s Celtic Stout is a decent example of the Irish tradition. Recently they have brewed a stronger (6%abv) Celebration Stout to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the brewery. I parted with some significant amounts of cash for the 750ml swing top bottle. While its broadly in the style of F.E.S. or Special Export the Celebration was significantly less complex. Still its an interesting find from an unusual source.

O’Harra’s Celebration Stout 6%abv

Pours a pitch black with a frothy enthusiastic light tan head. Aroma features resiny hops, smooth chocolate milk notes and a hint of roast barley. On the palate there is sweet malt, smooth mouth filling chocolate and a lightly roasty finish with a lingering hop resin character. Over all impression is of a smooth velvety beer but one that should be more complex than it is.

* This does not mean that the beer in question was a real ale, rather filtered bright beer is run into kegs with little or no condition , or is de gassed by the pub and then served by beer engine with co2 slowly replacing beer in the keg.


Anonymous said...
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The Beer Nut said...

So that's where all the O'Hara's Celebration got to. We haven't been able to get any for nearly a month now.

Give it back!

yalnikim said...

I thought the standard O'Hara's stout, besides its "celtic" byline, was pretty respectable. Certainly tasted more like a beer than that other "Irish" stout does.

The Beer Nut said...

Yeah, I'm quite a fan of it. Sadly, when it's on draught they nitrogenate it, all because of that other lot and their chilly grip on the stout-drinking public.