What beer pairs best with raw oysters? I sat down with Fabrice Poigin, culinary director of King’s Seafood Co., to dive into what style of brew makes a bivalve truly pop with flavor.
At King’s Fish House (1521 W .Katella Ave., Orange, 714-771-6655; www.kingsseafood.com ; also from the King’s Seafood group: Water Grill, 3300 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 949-208-7060; www.watergrill.com ), there are a dozen varieties of East and West Coast oysters at the raw bar this time of year. King’s has wild oysters, rack and bagged, off-bottom cage, suspended cage, and ones with silly names such as the Fat Bastard or the Moo Moo, and each is shucked fresh to order.
Just as with beer ingredients, how and where oysters are grown affects how they taste.
An IPA is just too big and bold, overpowering the seafood’s subtle fruity-briny character. So we went with lighter and brighter beers that have minimal bitterness. The goal is to enjoy both the beer and the oyster.
“I think we should go with Barley Forge’s Nom Nom,” Poigin says with a soft French accent.
I picked a Belgian golden strong, a witbier and a Vienna lager.
In our tasting, there was a definite overall winner. Nom Nom mango hefeweizen from Barley Forge (2957 Randolph Ave., Ste. D, Costa Mesa, 714-641-2084; barleyforge.com ) paired perfectly with the Kumamoto, which is the most popular oyster at King’s by far. Although it’s the smallest, it packs big flavors. Brought in fresh from either Baja or Humboldt Bay, the oysters have a sweet, fruity finish that works incredibly well with the wheaty, fruit-forward beer.
Got a favorite food and beer pairing? Let us know!