BEER STYLE AND COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
Style category: Oyster Stout
Captured by a local fisherman, Cassandra the Mermaid cursed Damme. She was banished to a pond right beside the brewery where she died of despair. She lives on today as the city weather vane.
‘Stouts’ initially developed as beers which were bigger in flavour and stronger than other beers and the ‘Stout Porter’ was a strong dark beer which took its name from the street and river porters of 18th Century London with whom it was popular.
When the tradition moved to Ireland, they turned to roasted barley rather than brown malts and brought a dryness to the beer style which changed it forever.
Cassandra is a complex and full-flavoured beer.
Its bitterness derives from both its coffee-like roasted grains as well as its earthy European hop bill and a subtle touch of saltiness through the addition of oyster shells at the end of the boiling process brings out a perceived chocolatey-liquorice sweetness.
The shells are taken from the Siphon restaurant where the oysters have been freshly prepared and consumed by visitors earlier on brew day.
Cassandra exists for a number of reasons.
We wanted a stout in Belgium to be roasty and malt forward, where the yeast doesn’t do all the heavy lifting.
We wanted a stout in Belgium which wasn’t overly sweet.
We wanted a beer versatile enough for food pairing in the Siphon restaurant, with big cheeses, chocolate desserts or our specialty smoked eel.
And we’ve got an Irish brewer in our ranks who just wanted to brew a stout.
OUR BREWVIEW ON siphon brewing’s cassandra oyster stout
7% abv. opaque black color with a creamy, cotton ball density, tan colored, 3-finger height head with large and small bubbles.
After about 5 minutes, the head did collapse down to around an inch in height. The lacework it left on the sides of the glass was similar to that of the Blinker Saison- thick and patchy which covered all sides. (We did ensure that the glass was “beer clean.”)
Nice espresso coffee and dark chocolate notes, the liquorice aromas that the label states are there, but we found them to be a bit subtle, but part of the overall profile.
The aromas definitely carry over to the flavors. The coffeeish notes tend to dominate a bit here, but not much. There is an ever-so-gentle hint of Himalayan sea salt / brininess to it; one that compliments it in the finish. Umami? For sure.
There is a unique mouthfeel to it. It is full bodied to be sure, the subtle brininess compliments the aftertastes of coffee, chocolate, and burnt toast in a way that we have not experienced before in a beer.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS
(Cheeses) Rich, Blue veined, Trappist or Washed Rind cheeses would go very well. A well-appointed charcuterie platter with salty cuts of meat and sausages would be excellent. A dozen Kumamotos, Atlantic, or European Flat Oysters in the half shell- How could you not?
The first thing that comes to mind- a blackened, aged ribeye steak. Paling in ‘t groen (as the brewery suggests). Calamari, clams, or scallops. Carbonade flamande would be nice.
Chocolate cheesecake? Absolutely! Pieces of high quality salted chocolate would be perfect; there are several recipes on the web on how to make your own. But for the purposes of keeping everything relative, we recommend that you visit Belgian Smaak’s Chocolate page for inspiration.
For 33 years now, we have wanted to try an authentic Oyster Stout. I had read about the classic style in the many books from the ‘The Beer Hunter’, Michael Jackson.
In the 80’s and 90’s, authentic Oyster Stouts were very rare (if not impossible to come by) in the United States. I’ve always had a flair for the extreme and different in beers, and desired greatly to try this diminishing beer style back then.
However, Oyster Stouts have enjoyed a resurgence in the beer realm; especially in today’s brewing scene, as more brewing companies make beer in an idiosyncratic manner. The palate of the modern beer drinker is far more apt to try something new and exciting than one did- even 15 years ago.
Cassandra Oyster Stout… aye’ lad, she is a well made one for certain! Everything I have ever read on the style was experienced here. As I have mentioned before, Breandán and Franklin are producing high quality beers way beyond their years. That line rhymed, so here’s a rhyming limerick we felt suited this BrewView well:
A SALTY TEAR
One day my mouth felt so dry
And I thought I was about to die.
Then I saw the word “Beer”,
And one salty tear
Of happiness escaped from my eye.*
Yet another winner from Siphon Brewing. Stop by the brewery. Enjoy Cassandra. Say hi to Breandán and Franklin for us when you visit.
MANY THANKS GO OUT TO:
Stu Stuart of Belgian Beer Me! Beer tours of Belgium for responding to our humble request to send us this bottle of Siphon Brewing’s Cassandra Oyster Stout!
If it weren’t for his kindness, Belgian Beer Journal would not have had this special opportunity to bring this BREWERY SPOTLIGHT segment and its BrewViews to you. Thank you, Stu!
ADDITIONAL LINKS- june 2017 BREWERY SPOTLIGHT
BrewView author GORDON A. PONCE is the main driving force behind Belgian Beer Journal.com. Since 1983, Gordon recognized that beers from Belgium were special, set apart from the typical craft beer.
He views beers from Belgium (plus Belgian-style and Belgian Inspired beers from other countries) great examples of the brewer’s art. Gordon and his wife live in beautiful Northern California- a great place to enjoy Belgian beer! Ecclesiastes 8:15