Scrimshaw Oyster Stout No. 1 is a unique stout brewed at Barley Days in Prince Edward County, Ontario. It came about because of an idea, and the insistence, of Mr. Nice Guy, Patrick McMurray, Guinness Book of Records oyster shucking champ, owner of Toronto’s excellent Starfish and Ceili Cottage.
“It’s all about the “merroir” when it comes to oysters” he says, and that’s song to my ears as same goes for great wines and “terroir”. Merroir brings the sea into the equation, he explains, very cleverly. Scrimshaw No. 1 is the first ever single bed oyster stout, given that only Green Gable Malpeques from New London Bay, Prince Edward Island were used throughout the making and added to the second boil, infusing their distinct flavour into the beer.
Just like single vineyard wine, Scrimshaw No. 1 seems to be the most defined when it comes to sense of place and origin. Fairly dark in colour and cloudy, and not much foam either, proteins from the oysters prevent it from forming a thick head; lots of sweet, well toasted barley aromas here with an undercurrent of oyster shell accents; light and fresh over the palate, dry and only 4% alc. by volume, easy and gulpable on its own, but even better with food. I tried it with split pea puree with smoked pork hock, moist fish cakes and, of course, a dozen of Green Gables.
To try it, head over to Starfish, or The Ceili Cottage; this fine brew is available for anyone, until the supply of about 2,000 litres lasts. Patrick tells me this is the first of many to follow in a series of neat brews, with the involvement of the great McMurray.
Zoltan Szabo is a sommelier and wine writer based in Toronto. He is available for corporate and private wine tastings, restaurant and hotel consultations, as well as assistance with private collections. His website is zszabo.com and he tweets regularly as @zoltanszabo.