If you know, you know. If you don’t know, we sat down with Springdale Director Joe Connolly to discuss why Pearly Wit and oysters make the perfect pairing.
It took me two decades on this planet to “get” oysters. That works both figuratively and literally, because as a child of a seafood-averse family, I was hardly in the position to be ordering off the raw bar until I could afford to eat and pay for it myself. Yet here I am, espousing the virtues of the most alien of sea creatures when paired with one of my favorite beers: Pearly Wit.
Pearly Wit is the beer we brew to sit alongside a fresh-shucked dozen. From its inception, we’ve always envisioned it as a necessary condiment alongside a plate stacked high with ice and shells. The wit, or white beer, derives from small farm and regional brewers in the countryside of Belgium. Before being all but destroyed by the onslaught of cheap industrial lager, these vivacious beers brewed with wheat, coriander, and orange peel flourished. The late, great Pierre Celis saved the style from extinction with his classic Hoegaarden, from which all modern witbier takes inspiration.
Oysters, however, have long been in the domain of white wines, and it’s easy enough to see why. Light, sweet, and a bit briny? You might as well be describing a Sauvignon Blanc as well as your favorite Duxbury bivalve. The pairing even conjures up an image of an elegant evening on the town, dressed to the nines. But for most of our history with the oyster, it was a humble staple of the working class, much like the humble grain-based beverage we call beer.
We like to imagine a town a few kilometers away from Hoegaarden, closer to the sea where in the right months farmers might have rare access to Dutch oysters shipped in from the coast. There’s no French sparkling wine or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on hand to wash them down — just a simple glass of tart, bubbly, and refreshing white beer brewed on the premises.That daydream was what we put to the test with Pearly, a beer that draws on an imagined history of a time not far removed from our own.
But let’s talk about why it works. Pearly has an irresistible effervescence that counters the naturally slick, rich oyster body. The classic, lightly sweet New England oyster finds resonance with the bright spices and wheat body of the beer, and yet the natural acidity of Pearly gives those flavors balance and structure. That acidity also gives the briny, salty character of the oyster a sturdy companion. If you fancy a dash of mignonette and horseradish, you’ll again notice the sweet elements of the beer pleasantly playing against those flavors.
If you love yourself a boat of oysters on a summer’s day, you ought to join us in raising a can or a glass of Pearly for a perfect change of pace. Cheers!
-Joe Connolly, Springdale Director