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Drink a Beer, Save an Oyster…Or Maybe the Entire Chesapeake (Blog)

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My father would likely say that my growing middle-age midsection is proof that I like beer. He said the same thing when I asked him about his when I was a child. And sure, you can ask anyone I know and they’ll likely tell you that one of my favorite boating pastimes is running the boat up into a quiet cove to enjoy a bucket of chicken and a six pack of cold beer on a warm, summer evening.


Boaters like beer, too. It was during one of these excursions last summer when I drank one of my first feel-good beers (and I’m not talking about the effects of the alcohol). When I looked at the label, it promised that the proceeds would go to help restore the Chesapeake Bay. What a perfect excuse to drink more beer, I thought. That lead me to seek out other barley and hop combos with the same promise—and I found a few to share with you. (Now I’m sure I don’t have to lecture anyone reading this on responsible consumption of adult beverages while boating, so I won’t. Or did I just do that?)

Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company Striped Bass Pale Ale

My friend Shawn Kimbro likes to fish. In fact, he’s so afflicted with angling disease that Kimbro is out fishing for trophy striped bass in and around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge when many people are hunkered down in front of the fireplace in the dead of winter. It was Kimbro who last summer introduced me to Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company’s (DBBC) Striped Bass Pale Ale. Proceeds from every can the brewery sells go to Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), a well-known nonprofit that has worked for decades to bring the Bay back to its former health and glory.


According to CBF, “The idea for Striped Bass Pale Ale was fittingly spawned on an island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay while fishing for stripers in gale-force winds. Steve Crandall, founder of DBBC, and a fully committed outdoorsman, wanted to create a great beer that would satisfy people’s thirst but also help protect the Bay.”

You can find the canned beer in six packs all over Bay Country. While the fact that Striped Bass Pale Ale only comes in cans may cause some beer aficionados to turn their nose up at this offering, Kimbro always has a way of spinning the positive into just about anything. “I like cans when I’m out on the boat fishing,” Kimbro says.

And I agree with him. They fit into drink holders better, and when you’re done, you don’t have a bunch of bottles rattling around in the cooler. The beer isn’t bad, either. No, it doesn’t pack the bite that highly hopped India Pale Ales have and hopheads crave, but its light, crisp finish makes it a great summertime brew.

Flying Dog Brewery Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout


If you haven’t heard about it yet (or seen its artsy Gonzo-style bottle labels painted by the late Hunter S. Thompson’s artist friend Ralph Steadman), Flying Dog Brewery is an eclectic craft brew operation located in Frederick, MD. The company creates playfully named brews such as Snake Dog IPA, Double Dog IPA, Raging Bitch IPA, and Gonzo Imperial Porter. Then there’s the brewery’s Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout. The concept is simple: buy our beer, and we’ll donate the proceeds to help oyster restoration.

I’ll be honest with you; I was skeptical. I sort of scoffed at the idea that any real good would come from drinking this beer (aside form the benefits of enjoying the brew itself). But according to Flying Dog’s CMO Ben Savage, “Every bottle of Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout enables the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) to plant 10 oysters in the bay.”

In fact, Flying Dog Brewery recently announced that since the brew’s introduction in 2011, proceeds have helped the ORP plant nearly three million oysters in the Chesapeake. Proceeds from 2013 alone will go toward planting another two million.

I know what you’re wondering: How the heck do you get an oyster into beer? Well, Flying Dog is keeping the details a secret, but the “oyster” part of Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout isn’t all talk. The rich, dark, toasty beer has notes of the Chesapeake’s briny bivalves thanks to the addition of real Rappahannock River Oyster Company (RRO) oysters. RRO runs a large oyster farming operation on the Rappahannock River in Virginia’s part of the Chesapeake Bay. Stock up, the math works out to 60 oysters a sixer.

Fordham Rosie Parks Oyster Stout

If the briny, toasty, chocolate taste of oyster stout has you craving more, also add Fordham Brewing Company’s Rosie Parks Oyster Stout to your beer bucket list. It, like Flying Dog’s Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout, has tons of oysters added in at the boiling stage, giving it a unique, rich flavor.

The name comes from Rosie Parks, a famous Chesapeake Bay skipjack that was recently restored by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD. Skipjack are traditional Chesapeake sailing craft that were once used in great numbers for harvesting oysters.


Today, only a handful of the graceful craft survive. Proceeds from the brew go to CBMM, an organization that not only works to educate the public about the Chesapeake Bay, but also has a mission to preserve, and explore the Bay’s history, environment, and people.