Battle of the Ocean Stouts

Welcome to the first ever Beertiful BC Blog post! The first of many ramblings to come, as I wade through the incredible BC craft beer community. I thought what better way to kick things off than with a battle of the ocean stouts; a head to head match up of two stouts both brewed with ingredients more commonly found in the salty depths of tide pools and ocean bays - and both brewed on Vancouver Island.


In one corner we have the Holliewood Oyster Stout from Spinnakers BrewPub, lets call it the “HOS” for short. To quote the description on the bottle: “Oysters and stout have a rich history as food for the masses. With a creamy rich texture and briny finish from the oysters and a roast bittern from the malt, this heavyweight stout was brewed with three additions of prime fresh oysters from our friends at Hollie Wood Oysters in Fanny Bay BC.” (7.5% ABV/20 IBU).


In the challenger's corner sits the Kelp Stout from Tofino Brewing Company, similar to the above we'll refer to this guy as “KS”. The bottle reads: “If there's one sentiment that's constantly repeated among craft beer drinkers it is “This beer is good but it needs more seaweed!” If we've heard it once, we've heard it a thousand times. Well folks, message received. Tofino Brewing Company presents to you the Kelp Stout. A dark, rich, full bodied ale brewed with locally harvested Kelp, giving a unique umami-type quality to this complex beer.” (6% ABV/IBU not listed).


Both beers poured as you would expect of a stout, near black with a thick creamy head. If I'm being completely honest I took a bit too long taking photos of these beers and wasn't able to get the full experience of the aroma while the beer was fresh out of the bottle - #beerphotoproblems. The first thing I picked up on after a few sips, was the difference in mouthfeel and body between the beers. The HOS had a creamy mouthfeel with a fuller body, while the KS had a lighter mouthfeel and a slightly thinner body. The HOS had more of a rich flavour that was more savoury, while the KS really showcased the dark roasted flavours from the malts. I figured both beers would impart briny flavours into the beer, but I found these flavours were more noticeable in the KS, the HOS was less bitter overall, and I think the brine flavours enhanced the bitterness of the KS. Both beers had a crisp finish with notes of roasted malts lingering on your palate as you reach for another sip.

After multiple rounds of calculated sips from each beer, it was clear that although similar in style, the beers were quite different in taste. There was no clear knock-out, but both brews put up a good fight and would definitely enjoy drinking either on a number of occasions. Solid effort from either camp, and a worth while drink if your craving a well crafted dark beer!

For more info check out the website for either brewery below:

Stay beertiful, BC.