“It was a brave man who first ate an oyster” –Jonathan Swift
At first reading of the above quotation the inclination in most readers mind is to nod in agreement with Mr. Swift. Those who think of the oyster as a simple culinary gift of nature meant to be enjoyed freshly shucked from the half-shell grudgingly agree with Mr. Swift.
Before I can answer the question of why beer goes with oysters, I suppose I should answer the question; what makes oysters appetizing?
I have only personal experience to offer. I can assure you that the first few oysters I consumed were done so as quickly as possible. I seem to remember my first two or three lager beers paying consumed in the same manner. But I digress…
Oysters are ineffable essence of the ocean. Each oyster bed, and each specific place, yield oysters that are in the entire sense of the word unique. And yet each one specifically echoes the ocean.
This is where beer comes in. The succulent salty sensation of the oyster, as well as the slippery swallowing sensation when slurping a bivalve from its shell, is the perfect accompaniment to the sweet malt and various degrees of hop tang found in ale, and lager beer.
It must be noted here that there seems to be a perceived perception of danger associated with consuming oysters. Whether based on pollution paranoia or psychosexual inhibitions, these perceptions are highly overrated in both cases. As noted above I have only personal experience to offer.
Over the last few years I’ve had the chance to taste oysters from the East Coast of the United States, West Coast of the United States, and the waters off the Canadian Maritime provinces. In almost every case they were accompanied by a local brew. In no case as it ever done me harm, and I am grateful for the existence of both of them.
The refreshing moment when a particularly tasty oyster is chased to its deserving end by good ale during an interesting conversation in a comfortable bar is a moment unparalleled. And once again, as noted above, I have only personal experience to offer.