Why merely have a beer with your lobster dinner when you can have that succulent lobster flavor right in your beer?
That’s the idea behind “Saison dell’Aragosta,” a special seasonal brew concocted by Maine-based Oxbow Brewing.
Oxbow founder Tim Adams said the lobster-infused beverage came to fruition last summer when he teamed up with Italian brewmaster Giovanni Campari.
While the pair were enjoying a Maine lobster roll at a Portland restaurant, Campari suggested steeping lobsters in the brew they were creating together. (Aragosta is Italian for lobster.)
With Campari being a renowned beer aficionado and one of Italy’s top brewers, Adams said he couldn’t argue with the concept.
“He’s a master brewer who uses unconventional ingredients, so I said, ‘I can’t say no to you. Let’s do this.’ ”
The pair purchased 12 Maine lobsters, placed them in a mesh bag, and suspended it in boiling sweet wort — an infusion of malt and grain.
They removed the crustaceans, ate the meat, and returned the shells to the kettle to continue to steep. They also added an extra ingredient — some authentic Maine sea salt.
Adams said the end result offers beer drinkers Gose-inspired seaside saison with a very subtle lobster character.
“It’s about exactly the right amount we were going for,” he said. “There certainly is a salinity from the salt, and the lobster provides a touch of sweetness and a subtle briny character which is balanced by the acidity of the fermentation.”
The company produced about 3,000 bottles, which are available at its two Maine tasting rooms and select restaurants and bars in the area.
“We were very happy with the results, so we will do the same process again this summer,” Adams said. “The lobster addition was a last-minute curve ball, but certainly a huge hit.”