Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #30 - Island Creek Oyster Stout | Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall

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Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #30 - Island Creek Oyster StoutHarpoon 100 Barrel Series #30 - Island Creek Oyster Stout

Brewed by:
Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
Massachusetts, United States

Style: English Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed by Harpoon brewer Katie Tame, using Island Creek oyster farmer Skip Bennett’s revered Duxbury Bay oysters, this beer has a rich body and smooth mouthfeel derived in part from a combination of roasted barley and chocolate rye malts. The roasted malt notes blend beautifully with the briny, mineral flavors of the Island Creek oysters. An addition of hops adds some bitterness to balance the malt sweetness. This, the 30th installment of the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series, is best enjoyed with a plate full of Island Creek Oysters.

35 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-21-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 181 | Ratings: 227
Photo of aepb1
4.74/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Black with a tannish head

S- Chocolate and coffee and maybe some oyster brine in there too?

T- VERY smooth, mild coffee, tempered by the chocolate and a roasty taste in the finish as well

M- Full, creamy and VERY smooth

D- Very smooth and easy to drink!

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Photo of generallee
4.58/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 1 pint, 6oz bottle into a tulip glass. The label indicates that this is session 30, the ABV is 5.5%, the IBUs are 35 and it was brewed with real Oysters.

Appearance: The body has dark opaque body which is black in color. On top stands a tall tan head which is thick and looks similar to the foam on top of chocolate milkshake. It is long lasting and makes lots of sticky lacing as I drink.

Smell: The aroma is rich and roasted with toasted dark maltiness. Hints of dark chocolate, toasted bread mix with a slight mineral like edgy character from the shellfish. Some leafy hop notes are also detected here.

Taste/Palate: There is defiantly a heavy hit of dark roasted maltiness with notes of chocolate malt, dark caramel, some light ABV and a interesting almost salty mineral like thing going on in there. Leafy herbal like hops add a bit of bitterness and flavor as well. The hops are most noticeable in the finish. Its texture is firm but not too thick or viscose as to be hard to drink or cloying. It has a nice level of carbonation and drinks very well without being too thin or watery.

Notes: This one has a little bit to it and an interesting overall character.

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Photo of JamesS
4.43/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a great dark brown, near black, with a fantastic tan head and great lacing throughout. Very nice deep scent, slight sweetness with a huge roasted grain aroma (very coffee-like with a slight hint of chocolate). Nice deep roasted grains flavor with a nice sweet kick and slight hop finish; there is a noticable oyster flavor as well, which struck me as a tin-like shellfish flavor, much like you get when you crunch into a semi-solid particle along with the oyster, except that it's all liquid in the beer (no worries, there are no solid floaties). It goes down thick and creamy, quite smooth. This is a very unique beer to try, and should go great with seafood, especially oysters or clams. It's not an every day beer for me, but definitely worth a shot if you want to try a hard to find historic beer style.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.42/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled April 2010
This beer pours from the bottle with a black, lightly browned body and a frothy, brown-hued, two-finger thick head. A rich, roasted chocolate character and dark-sweet malt notes are quite evident in the nose. This actually has a huge cocoa character to it; sweet, rich and well browned, the cocoa also contributes a touch of chalkiness as well as some mocha-like aromatics.

The flavors is not as sweet as the aroma suggested, but still has enough to accentuate a nice chocolate character. This is actually dry tasting somehow and is really light bodied and quaffable. It is quite tasty and I would never have guessed that there were actual oysters used in this recipe. Smooth chocolate flavors are brought out by just enough sweetness and there is also a chalk-like cocoa character to the finish. There is an interesting oily quality to this as it warms up as well as a hint of umami flavor (though I could be just imagining this).

The oyster character, if it is noticeable, is definitely very subtle here, but I am really liking this beer; it drinks much richer and tastier than the alcohol would suggest, but it is not anywhere near heavy or cloying. Very quaffable and one I would be happy to drink on a regular basis.

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Photo of Bung
4.35/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. Near black pour with a small fine bubble tan head. Retains ok. Minimal lacing, also ok for the style.

Aroma has some roast malt, dark chocolate. A little minerally must that maybe attributable to the oyster?

Taste is smooth cocoa and roasted malt. A little smoke, finishes with a mild espresso like bitterness. Quite dry.

Very creamy mouthfeel though not real heavy, we'll say mid bodied. Alcohol is n/a, being pretty low anyways. The nicest mouthfeel I've had for an English stout not on nitro or cask.

Surprised at the lowish rating for this. I think people don't fully understand this style is slightly different from the usual stouts? I thought this was excellent, right up there with 2 listed on the right that I've had. Better than the Dragonhead, about even with the Hook Norton.

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Photo of fastsrt
4.34/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22 ounce bottle in snifter.

A: deep black in color, thin tan head

S: chocolate, the sea,

T: chocolate, and caramel, there is a briny quality to it. the freshness you get when you eat raw oysters with just a squirt of lemon juice come through.

M: light body, refreshing

D: I will be drinking this one as long as it is around, this is a stout that is enjoyable and at 5.5%, could session this one for hours.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle. Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours dark brown/black with an inch and a half frothy tan head. Head retention and lacing are both pretty good. Aroma is roasted and burnt/charred malt, bittersweet chocolate, and coffee. Taste is similar to the aroma, but with the addition of a minerally flavor and a little bit of a salty taste (both of which I assume is from the oysters). Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy, a bit slick, well carbonated and has a somewhat dry finish. Drinkability is good, it's smooth and very easy to drink. Too bad this is just a one time release brew. I liked it a lot, and think it would be a decent choice as a session beer, I wouldn't have any problem drinking another bomber or 2 of this.

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Photo of wolandjr
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Lower Depths in Kenmore Square. Good looking stout with a light and pleasant aroma. Nicely carbonated and a silky smooth mouthfeel. As others have noted its body is a little light for a stout but it fits well with the carbonation, mouthfeel and moderate alcohol level. I could easily have two or three of these in one session. The oysters are present in the finish, which is slightly salty/briny. I'm normally not a big fan of Harpoon's offerings but I've got to give them props for this very good stout.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 3/6/10 notes. Had a local DC tasting. Thanks to Justin (Jslot38) for brining it.

a - Poured a dark brown color with little head. Little carbonation evident.

s - Lots of malts here. Smells of roasted malts as well as some burnt and sweet malts. Also smells of chocolate and coffee. No oyster or seafood smell evident.

t - Taste was very similiar to the smell at first. Lots of roasted malts, coffee, and chocolate, with a little bit of sweetness to it. Then there was a nice aftertaste of oysters after all that, that made this a very interesting and enjoyable beer to drink.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation, a nice thickness to it.

d - Overall I really enjoyed this beer. Had a great stout smell and taste, but the taste got better and more complex with some oyster aftertaste that was great and not overpowering. I enjoyed this quite a bit and would love to pick up a bottle of this.

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Photo of plaid75
4.28/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On nitro at The Waterfront, Brooklyn, NYC.

Poured a deep black hur with a one finger creamy white head. There was excellent retention and very good lacing.

The smell featured full burnt grains, a light sweetness and a touch of smoke.

The taste consisted of a full roasted malt, with dark chocolate, charcoal and lactose.

The mouthfeel was full.

Overall a very nice full bodied stout.

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Photo of ianjsullivan
4.27/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

ST: 22oz bomber poured into a porter glass. The bottle listed both the ABV and a drink by date.

A: Dark chocolate black-brown with red tints at the bottom. It had a large finger brown fluffy head. The retention was average and the lacing was small.

S: Smoke, chocolate, earth, coffee, sweet malts, and nuts.

T: Smoke, mineral earth, creamy coffee, burnt roasted malt, with a slight bitter hop finish, which balances the beer nicely.

M: Medium and very creamy

O: My first time trying an oyster stout; I have become a fan. This beer was smooth and had wonderful balanced flavors. The roasted malt and coffee beans paired well with the earthy, flinty mineral flavors that the oysters added to the beer. The mild bitter hops in the finish balanced the beer very well.

NOTE: I made a mistake. This review should be under the number 36 session.

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Photo of BeerNinja007
4.27/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This. Is. Bizarre.

22oz bomber, $5.29 from the Beverage King in West Lebanon NH, poured into a chilled pint glass.

1-2 fingers of greyish eggshell foam, like a dingy smoke-stained ceiling. Dark black-brown brew reveals muddy brown highlights against a bright light. Smell is... nasty. Porter smoke with sewer gas and salty brine. Taste is at first dominated by salty brine, not because it is particularly intense, but rather because it is so odd. I have NEVER tasted anything remotely like this in a beer. But after a while, something even more unexpected happened: I got used to it and other flavors emerged. The brininess combines with a subtle thin sweetness. Smoke, coffee, toffee. There's a distinctive bitter smoke note that starts up front, is overwhelmed by other factors in the middle, then reemerges in a lingering finish. The nose has also changed at this point, but I suspect that this sucker just needed to breathe a bit (versus the other option... I got used to sewer gas... not likely). Aroma similar to the taste develops, but muddier. Not an amazing smell but, relative to how it started, now it's friggin' gorgeous. Mouthfeel is thin but smooth. Carbonation pretty light, alcohol not apparent. It drinks more like a porter than a stout.

I think it would benefit from a thicker mouthfeel, more rigorous carbonation, and higher ABV. But in the end, love it or hate it, this is an extremely unique brew that everyone should try. Huge kudos to Harpoon for going out on such a long limb and trying something so utterly bizarre. This is exactly what my wildest dreams would hope Harpoon would do with the 100 barrel series. It'll be around for a while and then it's gone. But for a short time, it's quite a wild ride.

High marks on smell and taste for such a dynamic experience. I wish I could give it straight 5s based on enthusiasm but that would be an abuse of the rating system.

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Photo of Jdiddy
4.26/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I have been waiting to try this beer since I heard about it. This beer just screams New England. Nice warming stout by the fireplace in the winter. Fresh oysters in the summer. In a word, this beer is exceptional. Easily the best beer Harpoon has ever released IMO.
The oysters are very subtle but just add the right touch. At the peak of it all, it is one of the finest stouts I am yet to taste. Smooth doesn't even describe it. Beautiful cappuccino head, dark as night body, and smooth as can be taste. The briny side of the oysters is a perfect compliment. I could drink this beer all winter and have nothing else. Sign me up for a case!
Update: After my initail review I had again and now see how some think the "shellfish" qualities hinder the beer. It can at times be a bit off putting and you may get a harsh taste from time to time. Strange. All in all though, I really like this beer but 2 in one sitting may be more than enough.

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Photo of hreb
4.22/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cold 22oz bottle poured into pint glass. Beer looks black, with a brown tinge, and thicker than expected. A sticky brown head which falls momentarily. Aroma is surprisingly smokey, as in rauchbier. Rich and roasty, possibly even hazelnutty (or is that just a visual cue?)

Oops, I've served this way too cold. The roasty aroma really comes through with a hint of smoke. Mouthfeel is neither thin nor heavy (nor milky) but minerally. As I continue to drink, the sour and smokey note becomes even more apparent.

If I didn't already know, I would not have guessed this is only 5.5%. Not because there's any ethanol flavor, but because full-bodied, robust stouts like this one are commonly over 6-7% ABV.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.2/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance nearly pitch black but when held toward the light this dark stout has brown highlights peaking through at the edges. The head forms at lest three fingers thick with a dimpled texture rising well above the rim of my 20 ounce imperial pint. Lacing is intricate and evenly spread this is quite the sight to be had before a night out of drinking on St. Paddy's.

Aroma has deep roasted barely and slight caramel toffee nearly burnt or caramelized sugars interplaying with a slightly salty ocean breeze and mineral water note as well. Even a touch of vanilla/or toasted marshmallow hanging out there with herbal hops blending in with the dark malts.

Flavors brings dark chocolate a mild black licorice with a heaping load of mineral/rusted nail tones. That sounds worse than it actually plays out, it's more along the lines of mineral water with dark roasted malt flavors playing together. A really nice drinking experience mild in alcohol but big in flavor, between big roasts and oyster additions.

Mouthfeel is medium to fuller bodied, but it never sits heavy on the palate. Carbonation is smooth and silky, easy going all day kind of drinking beer this was an excellent drinking experience.

Drinkability overall is one of those brews that should make it into rotations somebody out there needs to make a year round oyster stout now that Love Stout is gone from the Yard's lineup, even if Love Stout is still around it's no longer an oyster stout. A very interesting and tasty brew, that I will be glad to sip on again in the future.

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Photo of vacax
4.2/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ah, yes, the oyster stout made with real oysters. I was timid going into this, but I am glad I tried this one. Pours very dark brown to black. Cloudy, looks kind of like hot cocoa. Good lacing from the head. The aroma has roast, cream, earth, and some salt to it. The flavor is nicely roasty with cocoa, black pepper, and cookielike malts. Medium-full with an appropriately matching level of carbonation. Just a tasty stout here, I liked it quite a bit despite the putrid idea of having oysters in it.

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Photo of mooseisloose
4.2/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Like to see the 'pooners kicking out some good specialties, and better yet, with good availability, that said, let's give this bomber a whirl. Foil top, nice touch, this is the mark of a brewer who still cares. Cheap as it is I rip it off and lets uncap this puppy. Popping the top yields a very stout-like brew with a fresh smell of roasted malts coffee and dark malts, extraordinaire. Pours into a trusty pint with a "never have seen this dark of a beer color" and a massive pillow head that does not recede like the British did. On the taste it drinks under the head not with it, which is kind of bizarre. One by land, two by sea? Taste is good as one might expect but woah, who is running the centrifuge? The flavor however, rocks, if this is the Clamato of brews, it is a good shot. Very tasty and the mouthfeel does not lack. An interesting offering. I like it.

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Photo of albern
4.2/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a first for me, how many oyster stouts are you likely to find. The beer pours a dark mahogany color with a tan creamy head, decent retention, some lacing, but not much. The nose is roasted dark malts, some chocolate aromas and, I'll borrow from other reviewers on this one, a briny sea water type whiff. The nose is unique and there is a courseness in the nose.

The taste is quite different. The beer has the underbelly of an oatmeal stout with its creaminess and soft texture. There are plenty of chocolate and dark malty flavors. There is a dryness to this stout and an unmistakeable minerally and salty quality to the beer that makes it unique. I'm not sure if the taste is at all marine in any way, perhaps briny, definitely salty, with some interesting mineral courseness in the flavor but not texture. This beer is a must try because it is quite good, but also very unique. L'Chaim.

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Photo of Pabs311
4.2/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

was a little nervous to try this at first considering it's brewed with real oysters. if ur allergic to shellfish STAY AWAY!

A- dark rich brown, with a rich coffee colored head. decent lacing.

S- Good amount of malt, with cofee notes and earthy/mineral qualities. not what i was expecting at all.

T- Taste comes with coffee maltiness right off the bat, but then finishes with a mineral almost chalkiness. Very pleasing to the palate. I'm guessing that earthy/chalkiness is what the opysters have contributed to this interesting brew.

M/D- medium-full bodied which is surprising for a stout of lower alcohol such as this one. smooth all the way through. could enjoy this one a couple more times.

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Photo of JayS2629
4.18/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark black with a thick frothy head, great retention and lace. The smell is of roasted coffee, chocolate, and toffee with mineral notes that are perhaps oyster, but this is faint and balanced well. The taste follows the nose with a lot of roast and coffee and notes of chocolate. Faint earthy hops and a very subtle mineral taste of oyster. Rich, thick and creamy but not quite as thick as I like my stouts. Very easy to drink.

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Photo of Damian
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Drank from a 1 pint, 6 fl oz bottle at Neptune Oyster, Boston, MA
Served in a pint glass

The beer poured a brown/black color with ruby accents when held to the light. A bubbly, one-finger head of saddle brown froth topped the liquid. The head was slow to fade but left no lacing.

The aroma changed considerably as the beer sat. Initially, it was dry, roasty and very minerally. Later, the nose became smoother and more well rounded. The roast was still present but it settled down and strong notes of chocolate and espresso came forth. A touch of smoke was present as well.

A dry roastiness dominated the flavor profile but, like the nose, it mellowed out with time. Dark malts came through strong on the front end. Possibly some caramel-like sweetness as well. Lots of roasty coffee in the center. The finish was dry and crisp. Smoky with a bit of char. A touch minerally. One would imagine that this mineral aspect came from the addition of Island Creek oysters to the boil.

The mouthfeel was remarkably smooth, creamy and supple for the style. Medium bodied with a fine, moderate, tongue-blanketing effervescence.

Harpoon Island Creek Oyster Stout is an excellent beer. Pairing this with a dozen bivalves at the best oyster house in Boston made it that much more enjoyable. If you ever have the opportunity, I would recommend that you treat yourself to the experience as well.

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Photo of Jayli
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had at The Frog and Toad in Westbrook, ME on 4/23
22 oz bottle

A: This beer pours a thick, opaque black with a two finger of light brown head. Head has a nice retention to it leaving wispy spider web lacing on the glass.

S: Nose is roasted malts, espresso, some charred malts, and a touch of hops.

T: Taste starts with a nice deep roasted malt flavoring, moving quickly in to espresso and bitter chocolate, and touches of charred malts. Finish has a bit of a hop bite mingled with the slightest saltiness.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation, not very filling, pretty tatsy and paired extrodinarily well with the scallop special - and I ordered the beer prior to hearing the specials. I have a bottle of this at home that I am excited to have again.

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Photo of allengarvin
4.13/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Oyster stout... one of those peculiar styles with few modern adherents. I think Marston's is the only one I've ever had, and I don't remember a thing about it. I was never sure if they were supposed to contain real oysters or not, but this one apparently does.

Poured into a NB chalice, it's a very dark beer, completely opaque, with a steady, thick, half-inch thick head. The aroma is moderately cocoa, a bit sweet, with a hint of roastedness. The flavor is surprisingly dry, with dark chocolate notes. Roasted malts give a bitterness I wasn't suspecting from a style I thought was mostly sweet. The mouthfeel is very tannic. Interesting beer!! I can't detect any oyster flavor by itself, but I'm not sure an oyster-flavored beer would work.

This would make a great food accompaniment to many dishes, in that the bitterness and dryness is not hoppy in nature. It's be a good dessert beer, offsetting the sweetness differently than a traditionally bitter beer. I'll have to set some aside for that purpose.

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Photo of HeyItsChili
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured into a tulip glass. Pours cola dark brown with chocolate highlights and a khaki head.

S - Burnt coffee, bittersweet chocolate. Syrupy smoky resin.

T - Earthy, with a sweet almost tart chocolate flavor. Little bit of smokiness in there too.

M - Velvety, smooth.

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Photo of jondeelee
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Harpoon's Island Creek Oyster Stout (which is, yes, brewed with "freshly harvested Island Creek Oysters"), doesn't immediately set itself apart by the nose alone. Yes, there are huge dark malty aromas here, including chocolate malt, ash and tobacco, caramel, and a definite earthy quality, but little hint of oysters. Perhaps that's a good thing, though: a beer that smells of mollusc would most likely go straight down the kitchen sink.

On the tongue, the primary flavors are also those more commonly found in a stout: ash and tobacco, chocolate malt, hints of black malt and peat. The oyster seems to come into play right at the edges, such as when you exhale, and an ever-so-brief sea aroma dances through the nasal passages; and again after you've swallowed, when subtle hints of brine tease the tastebuds. The result is quite intriguing, lending what is already an excellent stout a hint of mystery and savoir faire. Mouthfeel is medium-light (surprisingly, given the potency of the flavors) and somewhat dry, and carbonation is medium-light.

Overall, this is great beer, and for those concerned with the idea of beer brewed with oysters, fear not: were the ingredients not listed on the bottle, you wouldn't have the slightest clue what you were drinking, and would probably just think, "hey, what an interesting stout."

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Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #30 - Island Creek Oyster Stout from Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
3.75 out of 5 based on 227 ratings.
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