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Our second Winter special is an Export Oyster Stout named ‘No Work Today!’, which is a reference to a line in The Walrus and The Carpenter, where some poor oysters infamously feature. I thought it a fitting name for a strong stout released close to Christmas Day, Boxing Day and all the other days we may have off work over the festive period. Also, my dear late Glaswegian Grandma had a toy shop in town, back in the day, called The Walrus and The Carpenter. So it all seemed very appropriate. First thing to say is sorry to all the vegans and vegetarians out there! This is our first non vegan friendly beer. But I’ve loved this style ever since I first helped brew several batches at Canopy brewery a wee while ago now. Oysters and stouts complement each other wonderfully, so why not in a beer.

When done right a silky soft mouthfeel and exacerbated roasted dryness is achieved. It’s an old style which was produced fairly regularly back in Victorian times but has made several comebacks during the craft beer insurgence. It was great to see Donzoko have a similar idea and brew one recently. (It all helps to keep such a fantastic style alive and kicking!) They went down the oatmeal stout route and added the flesh to compliment the well rounded and oaty smoothness. I’ve opted for just the shells as the Export Stout style calls for little to no oats. I wanted the salinity and the calcium carbonate affect on the pH without affecting the body of the beer too much. An oily smooth texture is present, as well as a sea spray impression, but it is well integrated. Export Stouts need to be fiery, highly roasted and extra bitter with enough smoothness to make it easy and pleasant to drink.

You don’t want it to be thick and super soft in mouthfeel. So that was the aim, hence leaving out the oyster flesh. You’ll be very glad to hear it’s not fishy! Any aquatic notes are subtle and feature in the background. 7.9kg of Gigha oyster shells were added for the full boil and 3.8kg of Loch Fyne oyster shells were added 10 minutes before flameout. Thanks to Peter McKenna from The Gannet and the chefs at both Crabshakk’s for the spare shells that would have otherwise gone to waste. You may also like to know the spent oyster shells after the brew day went to a local allotment were they will be breaking them down to supplement chicken feed: from one hard shell to another the calcium carbonate circle continues! My Export Stout recipe is complex and exact. Eight crystal and roasted grain varieties were put to good use to create a highly roasted, but smooth base. Not to mention the extremely dark hue.

A traditional British hopping bittered the beer high: close to 50 IBUs and a very small (0.7g/L) Goldings/ Fuggles addition towards the end of the boil gives a touch of honey, dark berry and fresh spice. Then a very small amount (1.2kg) of cacao husks were steeped in the cooling wort for 45 minutes to increase the chocolatey aroma. To add to the caramel flavour and bump up the original gravity some Belgian Candi Sugar was also added (as style guidelines permit). The boil went on for 3 hours in total to really give the beer that smooth texture. I am very happy with the outcome: a smooth, bitter and roasted Export Oyster Stout with flavours of ocean spray, caramel, blackberries, medium roasted coffee, baked nuts and chocolate has been produced. Up front it’s like a fancy block of fruit and nut chocolate sparsely studded with salt crystals. Then that heavy bitterness and gritty roasted character permeate the finish, just like any good Export Stout should. 

6.3% / 330ml