Despite it’s name, Oyster Stout contains no actual oysters, the name is derived from the fact that in the 18th and 19th century both stout and oysters were commonplace in London and so the two were often consumed together. With pollution and over fishing making oysters much less common in London the practice has faded. But you can still buy the stout quite easily and the association lives on today in the form of Oyster Stouts.
The smell is something like the seaside, the initial taste is a light caramel with some fruit this leads into a thin middle note with more hints of caramel and fruit, there is not much body but the flavours of fruit persist into a mild spicy end.
As Marston’s Oyster Stout is quite thin in flavour and feel it is a good lead in to stouts for someone who has not tried one before. If you enjoy the flavour then it would be a good idea to try some of the other bottled or cask stouts available, but as an initial tester for if stouts and porters will appeal to you then Marston’s Oyster Stout is a good place to start.
Unlike the Irish style stouts such as Guinness or Wadworth’s Corvus Stout, traditional London stouts tend to be less thick and have stronger flavours of coffee, smoke and earthy flavours. These are primarily from the much longer roasted malts used in their production. Oyster Stout has some of these flavours present but they are less overpowering than those present in a lot of stouts meaning that even those that like a much more hoppy beer are likely to enjoy trying this beer. All this said, this is a dark beer and so those who really like their light hoppy beers may find this less appealing.
At 4.5%abv Oyster Stout is not the strongest of dark beers, this does affect the beer’s ability to pack a punchy flavour, however for the lower abv the flavour is on a par with other bottled stouts of similar strength. This does of course allow you the luxury of having a few more of them.
Having never had the opportunity to try Oyster Stout with oysters I cannot pass comment on how it actually tastes, historically the combination was more one of convenience and availability rather than design. But I can see the appeal of a nice clean dark beer with a good piece of fish.
As with most Marston’s beers, Oyster Stout is quite readily available and even makes it’s way into the Marston’s Brewers Choice pack, details of all their beers and their brewery can be found at the Marston’s website