Is there anything in this miserable world that is better than a generously stuffed lobster roll and frosty local beer in the peak of summertime? Biased West Coast "ceviche and margaritas" comments aside—nope, there isn't.
That is, of course, until one brilliant young man decided to blend the two East Coast summer staples into one zesty-ass adult beverage.
Saison dell'aragosta has been making the rounds online but MUNCHIES got the inside scoop on the beer that was brewed with a dozen lobsters, straight from the source: Oxbow's co-owner and head brewer, Tim Adams.
MUNCHIES: So, I think the real question that everyone has in the back of their minds is: how did that beer wort-infused cooked lobster taste like? Tim Adams: I grew up in Maine and have been eating lobster my whole life and this was, hands-down, the best lobster that I've ever had. I joke around that I'm going to brew this beer again just so I can eat this style lobster again, though is a very expensive preparation of lobster. But I do hope that some progressive chef does get a five-gallon of pot of beer wort brewing just to be able to reproduce this flavor, because it is really incredible.
Was the lobster overcooked? No, not at all. We used a mesh bag so we were able to pull it out at the right time, since lobsters only take around 12-15 minutes to cook. We suspended in the wort, then pulled them out, ate as much as we could, took out the rest of the meat to use for lobster rolls the next day, and then we put them back in the wort to use the shells throughout the entire beer making process—the second brewing of it, in its mash, in the sparge, and then the rest of its boil as well.
How many lobsters did you use? About a dozen of Maine hard-shell lobsters. We tossed them in the wort live, too.
How did the resulting beer taste? It tastes great, man. The lobster is very subtle and it is not a big hit-you-over-the-head lobster flavor by any means; it doesn't even come across as too fishy at all. We specialize in some pretty specific types of beers: sour beers and saisons, two beer styles that are are naturally funky. These lobsters only helped enhance that natural funk character found in these beers already and even added a little bit of sweetness, because of Maine lobsters' signature sweet brine. Since we brewed this beer in the style of a traditional German gose, we added a little bit of sea salt, brettanomyces, lactobacillus yeasts, and then aged it for about a year too—the final flavor was tart, salty, sour, briny, and complex.
What the hell inspired you to add a dozen lobsters to your beer in the first place? The goal was "Maine in the summertime" and we wanted to have a nice, low-alcohol, refreshing brew. Though, the beer as a whole was inspired by a meal of lobster rolls at one of the best places in town that I shared with the brewer of Birrificio delDucato. We weren't even planning on using lobsters but the night before while we were eating them, he just turned to me and said: "man, we have to incorporate just a little bit of this lobster flavor into our salty beer that we are brewing tomorrow." I don't really mess around with unconventional ingredients but he came all the way from Italy and he's really good at brewing, so I said "let's do it."
Sounds like it's just a liquid version of a lobster roll, is this a fair assumption? Well, beer is liquid bread and this one has lobster in it. So, yup.
What do your customers think of it so far? It's slightly polarizing, definitely. Most people really enjoy it but every now and then somebody doesn't like it—at all. But you know, we're not out to impress everybody. Most importantly, I liked it and my team really liked it.
Do you have any other seafood beers planned for the future? A crab kölsh, perhaps? Not at all, this was our one crazy beer with wild ingredients in it. We don't even use spices in our beer since we have a fairly traditional approach. This beer is very much an outlier for what we typically do, but the flavor came out great. It was still subtle and balanced so I'm down with it. We'll continue to brew this beer once a year but no other seafood beers or anything like that.
Thanks for talking with us.