Lighthouse Brewing Company- Desolation Imperial Oyster Stout
By: Chris Lukie
The craft brewing scene in Victoria, BC (Washington’s “Hat”) is happening, plain and simple. We are growing and experimenting, yet have been around for more than two decades. Lighthouse Brewing Company has been around for 16 of them, yet only in the past three years have they really been furnishing the shelves of liquor stores with anything interesting. Desolation Imperial Oyster Stout is definitely one of the bravest undertakings they have done, and for most of the breweries round here for that matter. In a collaboration with an organic oyster producer up in the Strait of Georgia, Lighthouse has put together a brew that pushed its limits and left the public with something special.
First Impression: The brew is delivered in a standard bomber with a twilight colour scheme of purples and deep blues on the sticker label. Desolate is a good descriptor for this one. Reading the sidebar i am stoked to learn that they put real oysters in it as well as their shells. ‘A’ for effort so far, because that is bad ass.
Pour: The beer pours black as crude with a dark brown foam. I feel a drift of air from the glass that reminds me of my walks along the ocean; a coastal wind of brine and freshness makes my nose happy. A swirl of this brew shows strong legs and viscous liquor. I can’t wait to taste this!
Taste: The taste is sharp and salty with caramelly burnt sugar and that licorice candy your Grandma had on her coffee table. All that in one sip, although i surprised myself with there. I am not really getting an outright oyster flavour, more like a sensation of ocean. It has aged qualities, a somewhat sweet sherry character and a slight earthiness, but those are malt oriented since I know it did not touch wood. The mid-sip is highly warm and balanced so well. I get a smoothness and full bodied malty sweetness mingled with a growing briny character. My empty mouth now experiences more warmth in the finish along with coast. I guess you can say salty, but not oversalted salty. Ya know? This experience feels like a touch of well placed salt to accentuate malt and ocean flavours just like a shake of salt can help out dinner. The saltiness also seems to have the effect of cutting overly strong sweetness that some Imperials tend to deliver.
Grade: B. I suggest cellaring might do something interesting though.
IBU:not the point