REHOBOTH BEACH, DELAWARE
Right along Route 1 Coastal Highway at the mall-bound Rehoboth Beach strip lies BIG OYSTER BREWERY, a collaboration teaming Fins Ale House & Raw Bar with brewer Andrew Harton’s equally worthy pub. Inside a Wild West-styled Main Street re-creation, this seafood-related beer joint brings the best of both worlds since Big Oyster joined the fold June ’15.
Broken up into six sections, Fins controls the left side barroom (with wood-top counters, 20 bar stools, 10 taps, tin ceiling and beer-bottled refrigerator) and beautiful brick-enclosed outdoor deck (with 10 tap lines). Meanwhile, Big Oyster runs the far right gift shop, adjoining dining area and rear silver-tanked brew room.
Customizing wide-ranging beer recipes, Harton got his start after college brewing at three different Iron Hill breweries (West Chester, Wilmington and Voorhees).
Fresh oysters were being shucked when I visited late-morning May 1, 2016.
On the light side, easygoing Kolsch brought zesty lemon, mandarin orange tartness and light herbal nuances to its gentle white-breaded spine. Using freshly-chopped ginger, the herb-enhanced Daywalker Kolsch gained a minty tingle to accent citric-perfumed hops and dainty pale malts.
Juicy fruited Session 5 – Pineapple ably combined its sweet-tart pineapple adjunct with yellow grapefruit pith bittering and steadily mild Mosaic hop tropicalia.
Utilizing Ardennes Belgian yeast to gain its barnyard-dried fruit spicing, Solar Power Belgian Blonde stayed crisply clean, letting coriander-spiced yellow grapefruit, peach and pineapple tones receive a brisk Seltzer-like spritz.
Bitterest selection, Hammerhead IPA, a West Coast-styled dry body, allowed yellow grapefruit, orange rind and pineapple to embitter moderated piney hops and mild herbal snips. Another West Coast-inspired medium body, Resistentialism (Imperial IPA) surrendered intense tropical fruiting for lightly creamed crystal malting, leaving grapefruit, mango, pineapple and sweet orange peel illusions on the tongue.
Creamy Big Oyster Stout conveyed a syrupy oyster-stewed brown chocolate richness and bitter dark-roast coffee streak over dried oats (with wavered black cherry nuances).
Best bet: Classic Belgian Tripel, Noir Et Bleu, a limited edition full body strewn with bittersweet blueberry lacquering, banana liqueur splendor, lemony peach tartness and dried apricot snips residing above its recessive black tea adjunct (and finishing with a fusel vodka-licked 9.2% alcohol whir).