What goes down before the bar opens? Soon, Island Creek Oyster Stout

About two weeks back, on our last warm-ish day before the bitter cold set in, Skip's crew convened at the office after work. It was 4:15 p.m. and the sky was dark. Skip presented us with an oyster farmer dilemma: What does one do between the time the sun sets and the bar opens? We were done with work, we'd put in a full day and we were ready for a brew. The Winsor House wouldn't open for another 45 minutes. Skip's answer: Warm Bud Light. (Random fact about Skip: He likes his beer warm.) But more often than not, the farmers I work with enjoy heartier beers, especially ones that pair well with our 'sters. So it only made sense, Skip told me a few months back, that Island Creek and Harpoon Brewery had decided to pair up to brew Harpoon's next 100-Barrel Series, Island Creek Oyster Stout, a heady, dark beer brewed with our very own oysters. The guys are pretty stoked: They get to pair their creative energies with another local institution, one who supported us at Oyster Fest and who we support by drinking gallons and gallons of their IPA.

Island Creek Oyster Stout due February 5th, 2010

Last week the brewer Katie came down to check out the grant -- she's still working on her test batches (that's actually chocolate stout in the bottle) but will be brewing in January. The beer launches on February 5th so keep your eyes on local beer menus.

While we were out there (it had been awhile since my last trip to the grant) we actually got some work done too (riiiggghhht.... work). We've been prepping for winter by stashing some oysters into mesh bags that will lay on the bottom of the grant. We connected all the bags together with system lines so that if there's ice (fingers crossed there won't be), we'll be able to pull the bags up easily. Out on the tide last week, we got about 200 bags connected. As we zip tied everything together bare-handed, Skip cried out: "Hey office girl - no gloves?"

tying our mesh bags together

the last of our cages, coming out this week

As we'd hoped (prayed, begged for, desperately needed), the last of the seed came out of the water this week. Berg pulled the very last of it today and Skip will get it planted tomorrow. No more dirty bags, no more cages (except the ones we have to pull)... We can all breathe a little easier. Berg especially (that stout can't get here soon enough).

Friday was our first below-freezing day and of course, we weren't ready for it. We got to work to find our hoses completely filled with ice (we defrosted them in the shower at the Maritime School) and spent the day tackling the temps and high winds.

Despite running out of propane for our space heater midday we survived the coldest day of the year. And while the temps are already much lower than they were my first day, I'm feeling a lot more prepared this time around. Maybe it's the fact that the office is calling my name in just a few short weeks. Or maybe I'm just plain used to it.