Much like coffee beans and wine grapes, oysters and hops owe much of their flavors to terroir: the environments in which they’re cultivated. Mineral rich soil and long summer days in Oregon’s Willamette Valley give Centennial hops a floral aroma and resinous pine-like bitterness, while the cool waters of San Diego’s Agua Hedionda Lagoon gives Carlsbad Luna oysters a clean brininess and melon-like finish. With hundreds of hop cultivars and oyster appellations, there are virtually limitless options for pairing fresh oysters with hoppy beers.
Hoppy Beer and Oyster Pairing
Pairing: Tower 10 IPA – Without any garnish, Tower 10’s caramel malt undertones draw out the oyster’s sweetness. Add a little lemon juice and you’ll boost the zesty grapefruit flavors of T 10’s Cascade and Chinook hops.
Coast Kumamoto – Originally a Japanese appellation, Coast Kumamoto oysters are farm-raised in Humbolt Bay, California. They’re sweeter than the Sweetwater and fruitier than the Carlsbad Luna, making them a natural match with fruity Belgian IPA’s.
Pairing: Blackball Belgian IPA – Warm fermentation with a Belgian yeast strain, combined with Curacao orange and citrusy Pacifica hops gives Blackball the perfect mix of flavors to complement the sweet and fruity Kumamoto oyster.
Carlsbad Luna – Carlsbad Aquafarm has been sustainably raising shellfish in San Diego’s Agua Hedionda Lagoon for the past twenty-five years. Their Luna oysters have a mild salinity and melon-like fruity finish. Look for them in San Diego restaurants or at a number of local farmers’ markets.
Pairing: Big Barrel Double IPA – The tropical fruit flavors of the Nelson Sauvin hops draw out the natural fruitiness of the Carlsbad Luna.
Blue Point Oysters – Cultivated by Blue Island Oyster Co. in New York’s Great South Bay, this world-famous variety has a crisp texture, clean salinity, and hints of celery and pine.
Pairing: Boardwalk Black Rye IPA – Boardwalk’s complex toffee and spicy malt profile balances the salinity, while its bracing Centennial hop bitterness draws out herbaceous undertones.
Still not sure what to do with your #IPADay? Looking for a simple yet enjoyable way to celebrate your favorite India Pale Ales. Here’s a guide to selecting the best cheeses from around to world to match with your favorite IPAs. Since our beers are only available in Southern California, you can use these suggestions as a guide for finding IPAs in your neck of the woods. If you’re planning to spend your #IPADay in So-Cal, come see us for Cask Night with $4 IPA pints & $8 growlers of IPA to-go.
IPA & Cheese Basics:
It’s beer, not rocket science but consider the following when seeking the perfect cheese for your IPA.
- More IBU = More PU – Assertively hopped IPAs can handle the stinkiest blues.
- Dry bitterness balances sweetness and cuts richness.
- Bitterness will over power certain spices but will also intensify scoville units (i.e heat).
Hop Flavors/Terroir: Different growing regions produce hops with very distinct flavors and aromatics. Here are some basic examples:
USA Pacific Northwest: Floral, grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, resinous pine
Continental Europe: Grassy, minty, floral, herbal, spicy
England: Woodsy, earthy, herbal
New Zealand/Australia: Floral, berries, tropical, citrus
Tower 10 IPA & Apricot Stilton
Tower 10 IPA – A West Coast-style India Pale Ale brewed with tons of Chinook and Cascade hops for a floral aroma and zesty grapefruit-like bitterness that lingers through the dry finish.
Stats: 7.0% ABV – 9 SRM – 70 IBU
Apricot Stilton: England’s “King of Blues” studded with dried apricots for a pleasant blend of fruit and tang.
The Pairing: Tower 10′s forward hop bitterness stands up to the assertive tang of the Stilton, while the apricot draws out the citrus and fruity hop flavors in the beer.
Worthy Substitutions: Racer 5 IPA, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.
Big Barrel Double IPA & Mango Stilton
Big Barrel Double IPA - A boldly hopped Double IPA brewed in true West Coast fashion. A blend of Ahtanum and New Zealand grown Nelson hops lend a vibrant tropical aroma and clean citrus hop bitterness that lingers through a dry finish.
Stats:9.0% ABV – 15 SRM – 80 IBU
Mango Stilton: A tangy English blue studded with candied mango and spicy ginger.
The Pairing: New Zealand-grown Nelson Sauvin hops give the beer an intense floral and tropical hop character. When paired together, the hop bitterness stands up to the tanginess, while accentuating the tropical fruit flavors in both the beer and the cheese.
Worthy Substitutions: Epic Armagedon IPA, Kern River Double IPA, Alpine Nelson
Boardwalk Black Rye & Memoire + Midnight Moon
Boardwalk Black Rye - Inspired purely by imagination, this full-bodied black ale combines rich and spicy rye malts with the vibrant hop profile of a West Coast Double IPA.
Stats: 8.0% ABV – 80 SRM – 80 IBU
Memoire: A smooth a creamy Dutch Gouda, sprinkled with truffles for added spice.
Midnight Moon: A 1 year-aged goat’s milk cheese from California with sweet toffee flavors and a nutty finish.
The Pairings: Memoire’s spicy black truffle flavors draw out Boardwalk’s spicy rye malt character, while the sweet Midnight Moon softens the hop bitterness and accentuates the beer’s toffee undertones.
Worthy Substitutions: Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, Deschutes Hop in the Dark, Firestone Walker Wookey Jack