Like shields protecting the shore, the tiny golden S.C. state-shaped markers on Freehouse Brewery's limited release oyster stout label depict the location of seven oyster farms along the coast: Charleston Oyster Farm, Clammer Dave's, Barrier Island Oysters, Livingston's Bulls Bay Seafood, Toogoodoo Oyster Co., Lowcountry Oyster Co., and Lady's Island Oyster.
Freehouse Brewery owner Arthur Lucas says it's no accident — he believes that local S.C. oysters not only protect our shorelines and water quality, but flavor-wise, "we have some of the best oysters in the world."
He knew that Freehouse was going to make an oyster stout this year, but it wasn't until he started "ideating" with Charleston Oyster Farm co-owner Caitlyn Mayer that he realized he didn't have to make just any oyster stout. Why not give people a true local beer, made with not one but seven different oysters? "The idea is that we all share this waterway, this is the flavor of the Lowcountry, let's bring oysters out of the cleanest local waters."
Freehouse owner Arthur Lucas and Barrier Island Oyster Co.'s Jared Hulteen say 'shuck it!'
More the Merroir, a name Lucas serendipitously stumbled upon in an email exchange with Mayer, is a 6 percent ABV stout that's smooth, sweet, and salty on the backend. To make the stout, they dip mesh bags of oysters "sort of like tea" into the brew's hot, syrupy wort. The oysters open and get fully cooked — Lucas says you can eat them right after and they "taste like candy."
Lucas visited some of the oyster farms to get a sense of what they were doing, and the farmers in turn spent some time helping during the brew. "Oysters live their lives as filters, and we are re-utilizing them here — it's life after filtration," says Lucas. "Brewing is all about experimentation, how to take it to the next logical conclusion or next lateral conclusion — that is what this is about, the next lateral conclusion. Our society is moving together, and people are realizing the benefits of mixing together."
Get connected — and throw back a few stouts — at Freehouse's sixth anniversary bash this weekend, Sat. Nov. 23, where More the Merroir will make its official debut. You can also get a taste Sun. Nov. 24 at Bowens Island during the Oyster Social, a gathering hosted by FIG and The Ordinary benefitting the Shellfish Growers Association.