Oysters draw their unique flavours from their environment. They taste like the sea, but the sea tastes different in every bay, which makes them alluring and almost magical. Today, there are at least 300 unique oyster varieties just in North America, and hundreds from around the world, each producing distinct and often dazzling flavours. The fact that crisp, briny oysters on ice, or warmed on the grill are the flavours of the beach, pretty much make them the perfect thing to eat all summer long.
Serving oysters is easy, it’s the shucking that can be a challenge for the uninitiated. We suggest you either buy a few to practice on prior to your event, peruse a YouTube video or buy them pre-shucked. The classic sauces are Mignonette (combine finely minced shallot with 1/4 cup champagne vinegar, salt and ground black pepper) cocktail sauce, lemons and hot sauce. Serve shucked oysters on a bed of crushed ice. In Europe, raw oysters are often served with rye bread and lots of butter.
If you have never travelled to the low country you may not have tried the local way of enjoying oysters. This simple method translates the regional ceremony of roasting South Carolina cluster oysters on a large metal slab over an open fire or the backyard grill. At home, just cover oysters with wet burlap or a wet, clean towel in a super hot cast iron skillet on the grill. As soon as the oysters begin to open, use tongs to remove to a serving platter. Just pull the top shell off and suck back the warm oyster and liquor… unbelievably delicious!
So, what to drink with these little gems? Beer is an excellent choice to serve with oysters, but the traditional pairings, like dark oyster stouts are best suited for fall. In spring and summer, enjoy something a little lighter on the palate. Try these three styles that are amazing with oysters.
Session IPAs that are at the zesty, aggressively citrus and lower ABV means you can drink them all day, and the hops are lemony enough that the oysters don’t really need a garnish.
Gold Winner CBAs: Collective Arts – State of Mind
Wheat Beer (Wit)
The fruity tartness is ideal with the brininess of the oysters and the lower alcohol makes for a perfect summer thirst-quencher.
Gold Winner CBAs: les 3 Brasseurs – La Blanche
The unobtrusive carbonation in a cask ale lets the delicate flavours of the oyster shine through. Often cask ales have heavier malts and lower hops, but if you find a cask ale brewed on the lighter side, it’s a perfect match.