How Talea's Oyster Stout Is Helping To Restore New York's Reef

If you're not familiar with oyster stouts, you may be scratching your head wondering why anyone would want to put those two things together (and also wondering if oyster stouts are actually made with oysters, and the answer is, it depends). And despite the recent trend towards odd flavors for beers (key lime pie and coconut curry beers, anyone?), oyster stouts have actually been around for some time now — the first oyster stout, Pentonville oyster stout brewed by London's Hammerton Brewery, debuted in 1938, and was brought back in 2014 by the family who owns the brewery.

American brewers are also catching on to the trend, with oyster stout making a big comeback in recent years. Several brewers have introduced oyster stouts made with locally sourced oysters, including Fordham & Dominion in Delaware, which uses Chesapeake Bay oyster shells, and Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland, which uses Rappahannock River oysters. Brooklyn-based Talea Beer Co. (New York's first female-owned brewery), also joined in on the trend by releasing their She Sells Seashells oyster stout. Brewed using oyster shells (rather than the whole oyster) from New York Harbor, the 4.2% ABV stout is described in their draft menu as having notes of "light roast coffee, semi-sweet chocolate, sea salt." To source the oyster shells for their stout, Talea collaborated with Billion Oyster Project.

Efforts to restore New York's oyster reefs

Founded in 2014, the non-profit Billion Oyster Project hopes to restore one billion oysters to New York Harbor by 2035, through public education and other initiatives. One of these initiatives is collecting discarded oyster shells from restaurants to be used as the hard and calcium carbonate-rich surface that spats (young oysters) need to grow and survive, and to rebuild New York's oyster reef. To date, they've collected more than 2 million pounds of oyster shells and have restored more than 100 million live oysters.

Talea collected several hundred pounds of those used oyster shells from Billion Oyster Project's Governors Island shell collection site and used them to brew the She Sells Seashells oyster stout (per Brewhound). Talea is also donating $2,000 (or around 10% of the expected proceeds from the sale of She Sells Seashells) to Billion Oyster Project for their ongoing reef restoration efforts, LeAnn Darland, one of Talea's co-founders, explained to Forbes. Talea's She Sells Seashells oyster stout is available at both their taprooms in Brooklyn (in Williamsburg and Cobble Hill), as well as in select bars, restaurants, and shops in New York City.