Would you drink a beer in which scallops were one of the main ingrediants? Or how about a crème brulee-based ale?
While something is always brewing at Shelter Island Craft Brewery, some of the latest brews are getting downright unusual, like for instance, scallop beer.
“It’s pan seared scallops with orange and fennel, that’s the base for the beer,” explained proprietor and brew master Jim Hull.
Nobody is looking forward to the beginning of scallop season on November 2nd more than Hull, who uses the fresh shellfish in his scallop brew.
“I’m going to put in fresh tarragon and dry pan seared scallops from Shelter Island. It goes into the beer for 12 hours, then it comes out and I keg it,” Hull said. “The tarragon adds a licorish tone to it, what the scallop leaves behind is mostly caramel, from the caramelization. These scallops out here are so beautiful, they taste like they have sugar in them.”
For Hull, brewing beer is akin to creating a gourmet dish in the kitchen.
“It’s a very sophisticated type of cooking, because you’re involved with yeast and fermentation times, it’s more of a science,” he said.
Open since summer, Shelter Island Craft Brewery has enjoyed great success with most of its brews selling out over heavy summer weekends. This fall, the brewery has cut back its days to focus on beer making.
But if scallop beer is not to your liking, there are plenty of other choices for fall. Along with its regular beers — like “114 minutes,” an East Coast-style India Pale Ale and “Twin Forks Harvest Ale,” a Belgian-style brew — Hull also makes seasonal varieties like a fall apple ale called “Forbidden Fruit.” Most of the ingrediants he uses come from Shelter Island, including some from his very own garden.
“The apple is my rendition of the fall. It’s a real beer, based with a Munich and pilsner malt. I used coriander, lemon peel and apples from the lawns of Shelter Island. I just kegged it and it’s ready go to,” he said.
Also in the works is a new brew called “French Kiss,” which is based on the dessert crème brûlée,
“We added toasted sugar, a little butter, cream and vanilla extract and that’s just the base,” Hull said. “We’ll add some dark grain, then an actual burnt sugar will go in and vanilla bean.”
Making beer at Shelter Island Brewery is always a collaborative effort. Currently Mel Scarberry, a chef at the Chequit Hotel and Ben Hall, a South Shore native planning to open his own brewery next year, are both interning with Hull to get a handle on the brewing basics.
“I’m just learning,” said Scarberry. “I’ve pretty much studied every ethnicity of cuisine, baking and bread. Beer is just one of my last frontiers.”
And for Hall it’s a great way to get real world experience before starting his own venture.
“The brewing world is like that, we help each other because it’s a growing business,” he said.
“Forbidden Fruit” is currently available at Shelter Island Brewery. “French Kiss” and Hull’s scallop beer should both be available by the first weekend in November.
Shelter Island Craft Brewery is located at 55 North Ferry Road on Shelter Island. For more information please visit shelterislandcraftbrewery.com.