As the summer months heat up, we crave the cool sensation of a slick raw oyster shot sliding straight out of the half shell. You can slurp down an ice-cold one to both tame and enhance the flavor of these salty delicacies. Slimy to some but sensual to others, the texture of this love-it-or-leave-it shellfish finds itself uniquely compatible with the bite of a brew; oysters’ pungent tastes and smells lend themselves well to several complementary beer styles.
By Carolyn Heneghan
1. A hearty stout provides medium-bodied sweetness to counter the overt saltiness of robust oyster varieties like Maine’s Welfleets and the Pacific’s Snow Creeks. With more delicate versions, sip a mellower porter to avoid overpowering the oyster’s flavor.
2. A hoppy IPA pairs well with the oyster itself as well as its most common complements: horseradish and cocktail sauce. High hop bitterness can also cut through the oily flavor of fried oysters to properly cleanse the palate.
3. When you’re handling lighter oysters like Kumamotos from the West Coast and Beausoleils from the East, the mild hoppiness and high carbonation of a pilsner elevates the flavor with a crisp, refreshing bite.
4. A California common pairs well with shellfish in general, and oysters are no exception: The lager’s subtle fruit notes match (and even enhance) the oyster’s inherent saltiness.
WHERE TO SHUCK: Both taphandles and bicoastal bivalves are given the geek treatment at Manhattan’s Upstate Craft Beer & Oyster Bar. Slurp oysters raw, or get them steamed in the beer of your choice. Peconic Bay beauties steamed in Saratoga Black IPA? Yes, please!