On Friday, April 10, starting at 5 p.m., our Chestnut Hill head brewer Chris LaPierre will release his first-ever Oyster Stout, cheekily titled Lust. That’s right—he’s concocted a rich English stout that’s been brewed with New Jersey oyster shells.
What’s the full scoop on this exclusive tapping, and what other funky ingredients has he incorporated into his beers over the course of his 12 years with Iron Hill? Brewer “Lappy” uncovers it all below.
Iron Hill Blog: Your Oyster Stout, Lust, hits the taps this Friday. Is this your first time brewing an oyster-infused beer? What makes your version of this style unique?
Chris LaPierre: It is the first time I’ve brewed this beer. This beer was brewed as part of the 7 Deadly Sins beer dinner we did recently in Chestnut Hill. Chef Jared Cannon and I were looking for a beer for the Lust course and something with an aphrodisiac ingredient made sense.
After 17 years of brewing, there’s not much I haven’t brewed, so any time I get an idea for a new style I jump on it. The oysters were Cape May Salt oysters. We wanted to keep it as local as possible.
How does brewing with oysters influence the overall stout? What sort of flavor(s)/aroma(s) do they contribute to the final product?
A lot of people expect to taste oysters, but that’s not really what you get. We actually only used the shells (we ate the oysters!). What we’re looking for is a minerally character from the shells similar to the character you get from brewing with very hard water, as they do in England. The other thing that makes it an “oyster” stout is that it goes great with oysters. The roast and overall body of this beer can stand up to the strong seafood character and briny notes that oysters offer.
You’re no stranger to brewing with interesting, locally sourced ingredients, such as wildflower honey and in-season blueberries. What’s the strangest additive you’ve ever thrown into your beers?
Honestly I’m pretty traditional. I’ve never gone looking for the ingredients no one’s thought to use before. I did brew a beer with fresh kumquats that I was very happy with. The mild bitterness and bright fruity aromas went really nicely with the fruity character from the Belgian yeast we used.
You’re the Iron Hill king of busting out funky sour beers (hello, F.red). Why do you love incorporating wild bacterias into your beers? Of all the funky strains, what is your absolute favorite to work with?
One of the reasons I think beer pairs much better with food than wine is the varieties of flavors you find in beer. When you think about the four flavors the tongue experiences, wine can offer two—sweetness and sourness. Beer has always offered at least three—sweet, sour, and bitter—and with the recent revival of the Gose style, which incorporates salt, it now offers all four. There are plenty of sweet and bitter beers out there, but I think it’s important to cover the whole palate.
My favorite culture to work with is the classic Roeselare blend developed by the Rodenbach Brewery. “Brett” beers are all the rage these days. I like a little Brett, but too much is too much. I prefer the balance and relatively clean sourness the Roeselare offers over the super phenolic and funky characters a lot of Brett strains offer.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane: to date, what’s been your favorite beer to brew with Iron Hill?
I really enjoy brewing dry, yeast-driven Belgians. In fact, my only two gold medal winners (The Cannibal and Saison) can be described that way. I probably take the most pride in my German lagers though. I really appreciate their balance and drinkability and I take pride in them because they’re much harder to brew than Belgians, Stouts or IPAs. There’s much less margin for error.
Last question: how long have you been brewing with the Iron Hill family? In those years, roughly how many beers have you made?
I’ve been with Iron Hill for a little over 12 years now. I’d have to look at our style library and make a list to tell you how many different styles I’ve made. I know I’ve brewed over 1,000 batches since I’ve been with the company, but those of course are not unique styles. I’m confident in saying I’ve brewed well over 100 styles though.
Join brewer Chris for his Lust beer release on Friday, April 10, from 5–8 p.m. at our Chestnut Hill location. King of the Hill Rewards Club members will score a complimentary oyster on half shell small bite with their purchase of Lust.
With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.
Content provided by Dish Works author Amy Strauss.