For the longest time I stayed away from beers labelled as oyster stout. I was simply unable to understand the concept. Were these beers so named because they were made with oysters or their juices? Or were they so named because of stout’s affinity for oysters. As the more educated beer snob knows, stout and oysters are one of the world’s classic beer and food pairings. However the question regarding oyster stout still nagged.
Upon researching the subject I found some answers. Yes, there have been brewers who introduced oysters into the production of their stouts in an attempt to produce a more “nourishing” stout. For the most part however, breweries label their products as an oyster stout to bring about images of stout and the food it goes best with. Such seems to be the case in regards to Marston’s Oyster Stout.
Clocking in at only 4.5% alcohol, it occurred to me Marston’s Oyster Stout would make for a nice session beer. I had high hopes for this beer as such because sometimes I enjoy having more than one or two beers at a time but don’t want to consume over much alcohol. So I grabbed a bottle at my favorite beer store and poured a glass. Marston‘s pours a deep, deep ruby in color. Crystal clear, minimal carbonation. Head retention is mousse like and retention is decent, if not great.
Aroma starts off sweet, full of fruit esters, reminding me of black forest cake. Hops follow through with hints of damp earth. Aroma finishes dry, with hints of coffee and a soft mineral finish. Altogether aroma is balanced, fires on a lot of notes and shows a nice restraint. It would be easy for a stout’s aroma to be overpowering and too far in the forefront. Marston’s on the other hand has no problem making it from the glass to my nose.
The first thing I notice is Marston’s Oyster Stout isn’t quite as full bodied as I expected. The stout is pleasantly medium bodied but lacks the fullness and lusciousness of traditional stouts. Flavor does follow the nose, though. Starts out displaying black cherry-like fruitiness combined with hints of chocolate and espresso. Finish is dry and lingering, leaving me anticipating the next sip. Center is rounded with a mild acidity supporting flavors of fruit and chocolate.
Altogether, Marston’s Oyster Stout is not a bad offering. For the most part, it hits the right notes on the palate and in the nose. However, it’s just not full or lush enough for a stout. The final result comes across more like a mild porter or a full flavoured brown ale. In the end Marston’s Oyster Stout gets a 7.5 out of 10.
2. Oyster Stout | Marston, Thompson & Evershed, Plc. | BeerAdvocate