Try this Bad Martha’s oyster stout

Cal Scarfone explains parts of the beer brewing process. — Lexi Pline

You’ve heard of milk stout, oatmeal stout, dry stout, and even chocolate stout, but how about oyster stout?

Oyster stout now exists on the Island due to the communal efforts of Bad Martha’s Brewing Co. and Cottage City Oysters, with an added assist from local Not Your Sugar Mamas chocolate, making it a truly Island creation.

Started by brothers Greg and Dan Martino in 2014, Cottage City Oysters is an oyster farm based out of Oak Bluffs that focuses on growing oysters in the most environmentally conscious and sustainable way possible.

Oyster stout has a long tradition in the beer-brewing world as one of the more unique stouts. Many may think the nautical stout is some crazy craft out of some hipster brewing company in Brooklyn, but it’s actually a classic recipe that has roots stretching back to Victorian England. Oysters and beer were a common pairing in pubs. Eventually, oyster shells made their way into the brew kettle, and enhanced the beer’s bitter flavors. While not proven, legend has it that whole oysters were first added by brewers in New Zealand in the early 1900s.

The bittersweet, toasted flavors of stouts were a happy complement to the briny, juicy flavor of mollusks. For some it may sound disgusting, but for others there couldn’t be a better pairing.

Adding the oysters is a delicate process. Use too little and you don’t get much flavor. Use too much and you’ve got an odd fish soup. Oysters are typically added during the boiling process.

To make this incredibly special brew, Bad Martha brewer Cal Scarfone mixed and mashed the brew at the Edgartown brewery in the early morning. He began by preparing the malts and chocolates before adding the oysters shucked by Greg Martino. The brew process doesn’t offer much excitement as the ingredients boil and mix and transfer in tanks, but once it was done, the special event opened to the public at noon.

Dubbed “Half Shell,” Bad Martha’s new oyster stout packs a walloping 8.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), and is now available for purchase at Bad Martha. 

The brew has a dark, rich, chocolate flavor with a touch of sea salt. The big flavor of the stout is made using chocolate malt, roasted malt, 30 gallons of Not Your Sugar Mamas chocolate, and fresh oysters, harvested by Cottage City Oysters from the cool, fresh waters around Martha’s Vineyard.

So if you have a hankering for a special stout that is created through the efforts of local Island businesses, make a stop at Bad Martha in Edgartown for a one-of-a-kind beer.

Bad Martha Brewing Co. is located at 270 Upper Main St. in Edgartown. They are are open daily 12 to 9 pm through Labor Day weekend. After Labor Day, they’re open weekends until the second Sunday of December. For more information, call 508-939-4415 or go online to

This article by Brian Dowd originally appeared on