Friday, February 12, 2010

Sf Beer Week: Oyster Fest at Magnolia

Feb 11



Nothing gets me out of the house faster than fresh shucked oysters. My husband and I have been known to buy a bag of 100 and shuck and eat them all (with some help from our friends of course). Plus I knew they had an oyster stout available and I have never had that type of stout before. AND it's their Strong Beer Month, so I knew I could get some good stuff.

I went around 4pm and sat outside due to the lovely weather and the craziness inside.
 I had their own: Oysterhead Stout,  Four Winds Quadrupel and their Old Thunderpussy Barley wine. Not to mention I had some of their food that was paired with these.

First up:  Oysterhead Stout- brewed with 20 dozen Hog Island Sweetwater oysters & 5.2%. It poured a pitch black with a chocolate brown cream head. It smelled of roasted coffee, toasted malt with some mineralness in it (I assume from the oysters). It tasted like burnt espresso, malt  and a light oysterness to it. It was very bitter and a tad dry.  It was pretty good, considering the oysterness but it's the first one I've tried, so I don't quite have anything to compare it to.

So I paired it with 2 types of oysters: BBQ'd and Rockefeller both 3 for $6. I would have had and preferred the raw but at $2.50 a pop, this was a better deal. Plus I can get fantastic $1 oysters everyday, so to pay 2 1/2 times the price, didn't seem worth it to me. The bbq'd oysters were sweet, chewy and spicy. Paired with the Oysterhead Stout, the bitterness of the stout complimented the sweet while the heat lingers on your tongue. I also tried the oysters with the quadrupel just for fun. The 4 Winds Quadrupel  became more sweet and the spicy flavors came out. 
Oysters Rockefeller are cooked oysters with sort of a creamy spinach sauce on them. They were creamy, spinachy and a drop of the oyster mineral to them. That's always a bit disappointing when I can't quite taste the oyster, as I love the oyster flavors and always eat them raw- straight up without any condiments. So I admit, I was a bit out of my element trying both types of cooked oysters. Anyway, the Oysterhead Stout did not work with these at all. The bitter coffee notes overpower this combination. I did not like it with the other two beer either. It might go well with an IPA or Hefeweizen- definitely something lighter.

I also tried THE most amazing salad. Warm Frisee and Radicchio Salad with fried pheasant egg, oyster vinaigrette and only $7! OMG I was in heaven. Who knew? It had a fantastic bitterness from the radicchio, creaminess from the egg and a TON of raw oyster flavor in the vinaigrette. Absolutely fantastic. I tried it with the Oysterhead Stout and it was interesting and less bitter with the stout, but it did not wow me and I wanted the bitterness to be there. The other 2 didn't work either- way too sweet. I again, should of had an IPA to go with the bitterness of this salad.

Next up: 4 Winds Quadrupel and 9.1% abv. It poured a clear red rust with no head. It smelled of cherries, dark fruits, malt, vanilla bean and a hint of sour funkiness. It tasted sweet with malt flavors, toffee, dried plums and a tad sour. It finished dry on the tongue. I really enjoyed it.

Then Magnolia had some $5 pairings, which in itself was awesome and I had the suggested pairing with this one: Olive oil poached baby octopus and fried chickpeas with honey spice. The chickpeas were out of this world! I would just order a bowl of them. They were slightly sweet with a salty fried crunch. The octopus did not have that much flavor to them besides some thyme and they were a bit mushy chewy, not firm chewy. Paired with the Old Thunderpussy, the sweetness was really brought out between the chickpeas and the barley wine. You start to get some good cereal tastes occurring together as well. The saltiness gets washed away with the maltiness of the beer. Paired with the 4 Winds, as suggested by their menu, the taste becomes more bitter and the salt flavors came out more. It wasn't bad, I just preferred it with the barley wine.
Old Thunderpussy Barleywine- 10.8%. Points for the name.  It poured a hazy teak with no head. It did not have much of a nose- just a touch of candied fruits and malt. It tasted of caramel, toffee, malt with a touch of bitter grapefruit hops and a tad sweet. It was very dry on the tongue from the hop presence. Overall, a pretty well balanced barley wine.

All in all, it was a great meal. I need to go here more often but Dave always complains that it's too expensive. These beers were only $2 pours and the $5 pairings, $7 amazing salad and a little overpriced oysters were definitely a deal for the whole package. Get your butt their to try some Strong Beers!


  1. Sounds like an awesome beer and food pairing! I have always wanted to try oysters! Where is the best place to try them for $1?

  2. Hog Island in the Ferry building has them and there's a place on Polk called Swan Depot.