Art of Tröegs: One man’s junk is this artist’s treasure


Jason Lyons

Age: 45
Hometown: Harrisburg, Pa.
Find him: @jlyonsarts, jasonlyonsarts.com
Go-to artists: Folk art is a big influence. No big names, per se, more outsider artists.
I’d like to grab a beer with … French found-object sculptor Edouard Martinet. His work is amazing.


They shuffle into his studio in midtown Harrisburg and start pointing.

Jason Lyons just sits back and listens.

“Oh, I remember those,” they’ll say.

“I think that’s an old vacuum cleaner.”

“My grandma had that silverware set.”

Eventually, they turn and start asking questions.

“Is that a shoehorn?”

“Are those typewriter keys?”

“How does it all stay together?”

That surprise and delight, the recognition that he took a pile of junk and turned it into something beautiful, is what Jason is after. Sculpting wild animals out of things people have tossed aside is an unusual job, he knows, but it’s no mystery how he got here.

Jason’s childhood probably wasn’t like yours. Long before he ever picked up a welder, when he was just a boy growing up in Texas, Jason and his father spent a lot of time traipsing around junkyards.

“He was always taking us out to go junk hunting. We picked up tin cans and bits and pieces of who-knows-what. We had a backyard full of stuff just laying out weathering. Then he would take the pieces, cut them up and build these old steam locomotives.”

The trains were lost on Jason, but he loved the adventure, the thrill of finding just the right junk, and traveling to art shows with his father and sister. One year, after high school, he got a welder for Christmas and tried making a few sculptures of his own. It didn’t work out, and his life took a turn for the normal.

He studied graphic design. Moved to New York. Got a job at DC Comics. Moved back to Texas. Met a girl. Followed her to Harrisburg. But the more time went by, the more he couldn’t get those sculptures out of his mind.

“I could see time passing quite quickly. It was kind of a now-or-never decision. We were at a point where we could do it and it was like, yeah, let’s give it a shot and see what happens.”

It hasn’t been easy. There’s no constant paycheck. Finding supplies is tough. Deadlines can be tight. But the thrill of finding the perfect pieces, the challenge of fitting them together (he hammered out 72 bottlecaps for his Art of Tröegs fish!) and the amazement of people who walk into his studio keep him going.

“There is a desire to create. There is a desire to build things. When I’m in here putting on spoons and typewriter keys, everything’s OK. It’s just something I need to do.”

Art of Tröegs

It’s your turn to get in on the art. Take a piece of Tröegs – bottlecaps, cans, labels, whatever – and create a piece of art. The winner will be $500 richer, and they’ll get their name in lights when we open our brand new art gallery this summer in Hershey, PA. MORE

Tröegs Trip: Work at hop farm comes with a perk

Fresh hops are a long way off, we know, but early spring marks a critical moment in the life of a hop plant. As the first shoots start poking through the soil — three on this plant, five on that one — it’s pruning time. Trimming the shoots resets the clock on their growth and ensures that the vines will all climb and mature at the same time, a big help come fall.

It’s a lot of dirty, hands-and-knees-type work, but there’s a delicious perk … for us and for you.

“Hop shoots are normally the type of thing we would cut off and let decompose,” says our friend Adam Dellinger, the farmer behind Carlisle’s Sunny Brae Hops. “In the U.S., it’s very rare to pickle them. But in Europe, particularly in Belgium, hop shoots are a delicacy, and we’re trying to bring that tradition to America.”

To help Adam prune his two acres of Cascade, Chinook, Nugget and Comet, a 30-strong team of Tröegs brewers, chefs, packagers, servers, bartenders, planners and mechanics recently made the hour-long trek to Sunny Brae and got our collective hands dirty.

“It was a killer day,” says Tröegs co-founder John Trogner. “It’s good for our team to get out of the brewery every once in a while and actually see and feel and taste some of the raw ingredients that go into our beer.”

It was one of the first sunny and 60-degree days of the year, and pretty much all of us got the sunburn to prove it. But we got done in a matter of hours what would have taken Adam and his wife Diana days.

Row by row, hop knives in hand, we scooted along in small groups, cutting every hop shoot in sight back to the soil. We also cleared any weeds, which helps keep the hop plants warm and dry and fends off downy mildew, the scourge of East Coast hop growers. By lunchtime, we had more than half a dozen 5-gallon buckets brimming with leafy green shoots, which Adam graciously let us take home.

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First taste

Luckily, we didn’t have to wait to get a taste of pickled shoots. Michael Reese, one of our packaging line operators and an avid gardener, pickled a handful of shoots and brought a few jars to Sunny Brae.

“It was pretty good for my first try,” he says. “I just used traditional pickling techniques. I put them in apple cider vinegar with raw garlic, mustard seed, water, fennel, clove, salt and sugar. Everyone seemed to like them.”

Quick and simple works, too. Catering Manager Alicia Ferrari took a bunch of shoots home and sautéed them in butter and garlic.

“I didn’t even salt them or pepper them,” she says. “It reminded me of kale or a really dark green. They were delightful.”

Back at the brewery, Sous Chef Brian Kerstetter found a traditional Bavarian recipe and put a Tröegs twist on it. He created our brine with apple cider vinegar and Perpetual IPA and added coriander, minced carrot, garlic, sugar and mustard seed. Steeping the shoots for about a week softened them a bit but kept a slight crunch.

Curious what they taste like? Pop in to our Tasting Room & Snack Bar and order the Cheese & Charcuterie Plate. Alongside the Pennsylvania cheeses, our chicken-liver mousse and a slice of toast, you’ll find a few pickled hop shoots fresh from Sunny Brae … while they last, of course!

“They’re almost like a fresh-hop beer,” Adam says. “It’s a once-a-year thing.”

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Eat the hops, get the T-shirt

“We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the local breweries,” says Adam. “That sense of community enables us to survive and become a viable business.”

Show your support for a local grower by picking up a Sunny Brae Hops T-shirt, now available in the General Store at our Hershey brewery. We have two designs in both men’s and women’s cuts.

You got your Chinook hop plant for Earth Day. Now what?

To celebrate Earth Day, we’re giving away 100 Chinook hop plants at the brewery today. If you’re one of the lucky ones, here’s a little insider info to give your plant a healthy, productive life.

First thing’s first: Get it in the ground. That can, or even a large pot, can’t contain this eager little plant for long.

“Pots are too constrictive,” says Adam Dellinger, owner and operator of Carlisle’s Sunny Brae Hops. “Root structure will grow 4 or 5 feet in radius and 6 feet down.”

So, recycle that can and find a spot outside with lots of sun (south-facing is best), a little breeze and good access to water. Water is key.

“Hops are very thirsty plants,” says Adam. “Keep them moist, but not soaking wet.”

You might get more than one shoot, or vine (or, if you want to get really beer-nerdy about it, “bine.”) And this is where things get tricky. These vines want to climb, and they need something to climb on.

You can tie a piece of twine from a stake in the ground to a point about 7 or 8 feet up a tree or the side of your house. Or, in the first year of hop growth, a long stake or even a large tomato cage will do the trick. But be warned: Mature plants can grow 25 feet and up!

And you need to “train” the vines to climb. More than three per string is too much, so trim them back and wrap them clockwise around the support. (If you wrap them counterclockwise, they’ll fall right off.) Keep the area clear of weeds and guide your three little vines as they climb.

It’s easy to overthink fertilizers, Adam says, but it doesn’t have to be too difficult.

“Miracle-Gro and fish emulsion are fine,” he says. “My only caution would be to stop fertilizer additions around the beginning of July, when the plant stops growing vertically and begins growing cones. Excess nitrogen can negatively affect cone formation.”

Come harvest time — likely sometime from mid-August through September — you should be swimming in Chinook hop cones. Adam recommends hand-harvesting and leaving the vine intact until first frost, then cutting it back. “If you cut down the whole vine at harvest, there is some energy left that can’t go down in the roots for winter storage and help the plant rebound next year.”

What to do with all those hops? You can home-brew, of course. Or steep them for a hot tea. In the olden days, Adam says, people would take small amounts of dried hops, pack them in a satchel and put them in their pillow as a sleep aid. He’s never tried it, though.

“I work really hard during the day,” he says with a laugh. “So I have no problem sleeping at night.”


Hungry for more hops? A team from Tröegs recently visited Sunny Brae to do some spring pruning. We brought a whole mess of hop shoots back and they’re pickling as we speak. Watch for them on our Snack Bar’s cheese board real soon. Stay tuned for details.

We’re celebrating #HBGBeerWeek with a new (717) IPA and some can’t-miss events


It was 19 years ago when Tröegs — armed with not much more than a six-gallon pot, a beat-to-crap stove and a burning desire — set up shop on Paxton Street in Harrisburg.

We’ve come a long way since then, but we haven’t lost that burning desire, and we certainly haven’t forgotten our roots.

So once again, we’re pulling out all the stops to help celebrate Harrisburg Beer Week, running from April 22-30 at breweries, bars and restaurants throughout the area.

(717) Collaboration Ale – 4/22 release

For starters, Day 1 of Harrisburg Beer Week marks the release of the next round of (717) Collaboration Ale. Brewed with our friends at Appalachian and Pizza Boy, this year’s version is a draft-only IPA with tons of citrusy and tropical hops and a silly amount of orange zest.

Here at Tröegs, we’ll be tapping our first keg of (717) at 7:17 p.m. on Friday, April 22.

PA Flavor – 4/23

From 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, we’ll be at the Farm Show for PA Flavor, a beer and food pairing event that brings together dozens of Pennsylvania breweries, food producers and restaurants. Our chefs put a twist on a New England classic, the lobster roll. They’ve whipped up crawfish and shrimp salad on a house-baked corn roll with pickled okra and a dusting of potato-chip crumble. Grab yours, along with a Sunshine Pils, under the Tröegs tent.

Right after PA Flavor, we’ll be hitting McGraths on Locust Street for a special firkin of our newest year-round beer, Solid Sender.

Art of Tröegs at Millworks – 4/27

On Wednesday, April 27, we’ll be Making Art and Drinking Tröegs at The Millworks in Midtown. Drop by from 6 to 9 p.m. for a wood-fired pizza and beer-pairing menu, a firkin of limited Scratch Double IPA, a community art piece for you to paint, Tröegs coloring book giveaways and a chance to meet Art of Tröegs sculptor Jason Lyons.

And more …

We also have a brunch and beer pairing at Sturges Speakeasy, oak-aged Troegenator at Arooga’s Camp Hill, a meet-the-brewers night at Midtown Tavern, a coloring contest at Federal Taphouse and more. Make sure to hunt down a “Proudly Brewed in PA” Art Print at each of our events!

Get the full lineup of our Harrisburg Beer Week events right here.

ART OF TRÖEGS: The beauty – and allegory – of blown glass


Stephanie Chubbuck

Age: 46
Hometown: Boston
Find her: @stephchubbuck, stephaniechubbuck.com
Words of wisdom: I’m a big fan of Pinterest and image sharing. I create a databank of things that excite me and inspire me. When you have contact with really cool things or really cool ideas, that stimulates your brain.
Go-to artists: So many. Alan Klein, Petah Coyne, Jana Sterback. On my first day in the [MassArt] fine arts program, Chuck Stigliano said artists are responsible for the evolution of consciousness. … That’s the truth.
I’d like to grab a beer with … Georgia O’Keefe. She was fantastic.


Obscenity, said Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in 1964, is difficult to define. But “I know it,” he said, “when I see it.”

Boy, Stephanie Chubbuck would have thrown him for a loop.

“I don’t see any value in what you’e doing,” someone once told her.

“I want this in my life,” said another.

“That’s offensive.”

“That’s awesome.”

“Kinda looks like you could make love to it,” said one guy.

“You idiot,” said his wife. “That’s the point.”

Well, sort of. The point, Stephanie says, is that beauty — and art and value and obscenity — is in the eye of the beholder. And whether someone hates her glass-blown fruit (and all of their allegorical trappings) or loves them, is turned on or turned off, doesn’t really matter. They aren’t statements. They’re provocations, and there are no wrong reactions.

“I keep my opinion out,” Stephanie says. “If I’m too heavy-handed with an opinion or an emotion of my own, then it prevents what the viewer brings, and that interaction between the viewer and the art is what’s important to me.

Is that just a cherry?

What’s with the zipper?

Is that a … well, you know?

“I play with that line between vulgarity and modesty, revealing and concealing. But it’s important for me to not be vulgar. My work isn’t something that a kid couldn’t see.”

In a way, Stephanie’s approach to art and allegory is a direct descendent of 16th and 17th century Dutch vanitas, those symbol-rich still lifes of skulls, books, candles, flowers and, yup, over-ripe fruit.

“Those paintings are usually full of food and flowers, but there’s always more to them,” she says. “Sometimes it’s evil, sometimes it’s sexuality, sometimes it’s class. There’s always an undercurrent. But the most important thing is, at first glance, there’s a seduction.”

So, what about her Art of Tröegs piece? Is that just a bottle? What’s with the zipper? Is that a … well, you know?

You tell her.

Art of Tröegs

It’s your turn to get in on the art. Take a piece of Tröegs – bottlecaps, cans, labels, whatever – and create a piece of art. The winner will be $500 richer, and they’ll get their name in lights when we open our brand new art gallery this summer in Hershey, PA. MORE

Sunshine kicks the Hop Cycle into high gear

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It’s the seasonal we’ve all been waiting for.

Summertime means Sunshine Pils, and as those long, warm days inch closer, we’re celebrating with the release of our summer Hop Cycle seasonal.

“Sunshine is the epitome of a go-to summer beer,” says Tröegs co-founder Chris Trogner. “When I think of concerts, barbecues, backyard movies and kicking back after outdoor adventures, I think Sunshine Pils.”

In Sunshine, we combine the refreshing finesse of a Bohemian-style Pilsner with a bright Noble hop character. Pilsner malt lends this straw-colored lager notes of lightly toasted biscuit and bread, while Hersbrucker and Saaz hops deliver a bright peppery and floral finish.

At 4.5% ABV and 45 IBUs, Sunshine pairs well with steamed crabs and clams, corn on the cob and summer salads.

Sunshine Pils is available from April to July in 12-ounce bottles and cans and on draught in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

To find Sunshine near you, try our Brew Finder.

Art of Tröegs: Isaiah Zagar and his Magic Gardens


Isaiah Zagar

Age: 77
Find him: @isaiahzagar, @phillymagicgardens
Hometown: Philadelphia
Words of wisdom: Communication is all we’ve got. Eye contact, touch, what we do on a daily basis with the gifts we’re given.
Go-to artists: Clarence Schmidt was a guy who didn’t know he was an artist. He just made things and he made them bigger and bigger and bigger. I was 19 years old when I saw how big “Miracle on the Mountain” was and it blew me out of the water. There was no water there, but it blew me out of the water that wasn’t there. I mean, dig that.
Art of Tröegs piece: I was inspired by the story on the labels and ended up putting the beer caps in cement. I love cement.
I’d like to grab a beer with … as long as the beer has a little cement in it, I don’t care. Gotta have a little bit of cement in everything.


Magic Gardens is tough to explain. Spanning half a city block, it’s part trash, part treasure. Unmissable, but under the radar. It’s the most eccentric pocket of Philadelphia’s famously eccentric South Street.

Magic Gardens is like no place on Earth. And when you walk through and under and on top of this bejeweled wonder and its countless broken plates and mirrors, beer bottles and bicycle wheels, witticisms, nudes, scrap metal and cement, you can only wonder … where on Earth did this come from?

It came from Brooklyn, where a little boy named Isaiah was born in 1939.

It came from that little boy’s kitchen, where all around him flew his mother’s pots and pans and plates and mugs.

It came from the Pratt Institute, where that boy came of age, studied art and soon after met a woman named Julia, his muse for half a century.

It came from Peru, where Isaiah and Julia spent three years working for the Peace Corps and falling in love with the color and creativity of Incan folk art.

It came from lower South Street, their run-down home after Peru, and Isaiah’s drive to beautify it.

It came from the museums of Philadelphia, who shut their doors on Isaiah and forced him to put his art up in the streets.

That was more than 20 years ago now, and Isaiah’s never stopped.

Magic Gardens is his life’s work, but it’s something even he doesn’t fully understand.

“I don’t know who’s got that grand vision, but it’s not me. I’m just a plodder who goes from one spot to the next to the next. I had no idea I was building this amazing thing. I’m as awed as anybody else.”

For this year’s Art of Tröegs Contest, the 77-year-old Isaiah brought some of his 20-something energy to a mosaic inspired by our labels.

“I read the labels, and they were fantastic. These two brothers — the Trogner brothers — they did it together. They must have just said one day, ‘Let’s make beer.’ And they did! And that’s the key in art, too. Just take courage and go for it.”

Art of Tröegs

It’s your turn to get in on the art. Take a piece of Tröegs – bottlecaps, cans, labels, whatever – and create a piece of art. The winner will be $500 richer, and they’ll get their name in lights when we open our brand new art gallery this summer in Hershey, PA. MORE

Cutting and pasting, Jay Riggio is the happiest he’s ever been

Jay Riggio

Age: 37
Find him: @jayriggioart
Hometown: I grew up in Franklin Square, N.Y. But I’ve always considered Brooklyn my home.
Inspiration: My ideas come from the countless unanswered questions I have about myself and the world I live in.
Words of wisdom: There are no answers, only questions.
Go-to artists: Ray Johnson, Raymond Pettibon. Daily, I’m inspired mostly by musicians like Simon Joyner, Elliott Smith and Jason Molina.
Art of Tröegs piece: I just started cutting up DreamWeaver and came up with the idea to put a mask of wheat on this old Hollywood pinup. I ended up using dozens of those tiny stars from the label to give it some depth. There’s a lot going on there.
I’d like to grab a beer with … The person who invented Swedish Fish. It’s the best candy in the world. And if we had enough time together, I think I could convince them to send me some free samples.


They say a man’s bookcase will tell you everything you need to know about him.

Jay Riggio’s has a lot to say.

There’s Coyotes and Monarch Butterflies. Basic Microwaving. The College Basketball Book and How to Heal a Grieving Heart. Early Man. Island Life. Skulls.

A good chunk of Jay’s skinny Brooklyn apartment is buried in books. He gets them at yard sales and second-hand stores. Others come from friends and family. Occasionally he’ll fish one out of the trash.

“My girlfriend’s bummed about that.”

But it’s not the words that tell Jay Riggio’s stories.

Jay spends his days cutting and pasting, and his next piece – and the one after that and the one after that – is buried somewhere in those bookshelves. He just has to unearth the right pictures, cut them out and piece them together.

“When I started doing this, I didn’t even know there was a medium of collage. I didn’t know there was an art knife. I didn’t know there was a cutting board that they sell at art supply stores. I was using a box cutter and Elmer’s glue and tape.”

In those early days, Jay just did his thing and left it at that.

“I would go to my 9-5 job and work and then come home and make art. I didn’t really show it to anyone. I just didn’t feel like I had a place in that world of art.”

In April 2011, a friend convinced him to set up a Tumblr page. He started posting his work. People noticed.

“Once I put it out there and was getting a response I was like, ‘Oh wow, people actually like what I do.’”

Next came Instagram, and the momentum kept building. These days, he shares his work with more than 20,000 followers. In a leap of faith, he left that 9 to 5. Sure, the steady paycheck was nice. But the freedom to spend his days cutting and pasting – what he calls his obsession – holds more value.

“This is the happiest I’ve ever been.”

Art of Tröegs

It’s your turn to get in on the art. Take a piece of Tröegs – bottlecaps, cans, labels, whatever – and create a piece of art. The winner will be $500 richer, and they’ll get their name in lights when we open our brand new art gallery this summer in Hershey, PA. MORE

 

 

It’s your turn to get in on the art

Core Lockup

Art of Tröegs Contest winner will be the star of new Troegs Gallery

In the middle of planning our new Splinter Cellar, we hit upon a wild idea: Why don’t we include a space to show off our love of art?

“After we come up with a new beer here at Tröegs, a really fun part for us is coming up with a name and artwork,” says brewery cofounder Chris Trogner. “We thought it would be nice to have a place where we could show off the art that bubbles up around the brewery, especially all the great work we get for the Art of Tröegs Contest.”

 

Get In On The Art Of Tröegs from Tröegs Independent Brewing on Vimeo.

It’s been 10 years since we launched the annual Art of Tröegs Contest. Back then, when we first challenged Tröegs fans to create something original out of our packaging, we didn’t know quite what to expect.

Then the artwork starting rolling in. We were floored. We’ve seen everything from giant paper mache hops to tiny toy motorcycles to murals fit for MOMA, and every year, the contest gets bigger and the entries get better.

Enter the art gallery. This summer, above our three beautiful new 23-foot oak aging tanks, we’re opening the Tröegs Gallery. Front and center at that opening will be the winner of the 2016 Art of Tröegs Contest.

Riggio piece

Here’s the challenge: Take a piece of Tröegs – bottlecaps, cans, labels, whatever – and create a piece of art. It can be flat. It can be 3-dimensional. It can be anything you dream up. We’ll choose our favorite piece, and the winner will get $500 and a trip for two to the gallery opening.

To fuel the fires of creativity, we enlisted the help of a few of our favorite artists. From mosaic to mixed media to collage, each brought a unique approach to the challenge.

“I thought a lot about how to incorporate labels into a piece,” says Brooklyn collage artist Jay Riggio. “Then I just started cutting up DreamWeaver and came up with the idea to put a mask of wheat on this old Hollywood pinup. I ended up using dozens of those tiny stars from the label to give it some depth. There’s a lot going on there.”

Isaiah Zagar for Troegs

Larger-than-life Philadelphia artist Isaiah Zagar found inspiration in his favorite medium.

“I put the beer caps in cement,” he says. “I love cement. And broken glass and broken plates. The key is just to take courage. Don’t worry about the results. Just take courage and go for it.”

Watch for other pieces from:

  • Surrealist Boston glassblower Stephanie Chubbuck, who has a piece in the White House Art Collection
  • Harrisburg found-object sculptor Jason Lyons, the epitome of “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”
  • Award-winning sculptor, photographer and mixed-media artist Ryan Upp of Cleveland

Over the next month and a half, we’ll also be hosting dozens of Art of Tröegs parties at some of our favorite bars and restaurants. Join us to get your hands on a Tröegs coloring book, a pack of colored pencils and a generous helping of artistic inspiration.

So, we’re busy building the gallery. It’s time for you to get busy making some art. Submissions are due by May 14. For details on the contest and how to submit your work, visit troegs.com/art.

“There’s creativity everywhere that people don’t even realize they have,” says Riggio. “It’s just a matter of letting go of your inhibitions and trying something.”

Tröegs Trip: The Ugly Oyster

Not that it’s been a terribly long winter, but cabin fever was setting in … just feelin’ the itch to get out and do something. Have had oysters on the brain for a while so we set out for Barren Island on the Chesapeake Bay to learn more about oyster farming and to see how our freshly bottled Cultivator Helles Bock would pair – wow, almost said that with a straight face. Who are we kidding? We really wanted to eat oysters, a lot of them.

 Getting the trip started off right, Chef Christian whipped up some road snacks: house-made jerky, beef sticks, red beet eggs and pickled green beans. Yup, it was his hat tip to the Baltimore bull oyster roast or, in this case, we dubbed it ‘roadie roast.’  Obviously there’d be oysters, and the beef side of the tradition was taken care of slow-smoked, marinated brisket dried in mouth-watering strips. The sides were ‘family’ inspired complete with Auntie’s sweet beet eggs, and an old buddy’s green bean pickle recipe; “either way you slice it these foods were memory movers, nostalgic inducing time machines that transport you to smiley yester years.” (That’s a direct quote from Christian…he really does talk that way (gotta love it), and he’s also a perfect road trip companion!)

 After four hours of driving and snacking, we were greeted by our host, Tim Devine, with a giant smile and a “you’re here. What the f*ck too so long?” It was seriously cold but also sunny as Tim proceeded to nonchalantly march us out onto his piece of paradise by the bay, and we could’ve stayed all day.

 A little over 3 years ago, Tim left his job as a professional photographer in New York City to return to the area where he grew up. His former little league coach and a bayside opportunity were calling him and the next thing he knew, he was full on oyster farming. Tim loves that oysters are a sustainable choice and has been testing and learning and chipping and shucking ever since.

 The Chesapeake, provides a vast, protected basin of medium salinity water – perfect for oysters. Barren Island’s goal is to bring tasty and sustainably-raised oysters to market while providing relief to wild oyster populations.

 We learned oysters are vegetarians. So, raising and feeding Barren Island oysters doesn’t add to overfishing of wild fish and uses less energy and resources than other types of seafood. Tim’s most popular oysters are Buttercups and the Ugly Oyster. He joked that he’s learned that the sexier the name, the more popular, so he decided to give the name Ugly Oyster a try (reminded me of naming beers).

 Oysters start out around the size of a few grains of sand, and after approximately 15 months they become a 3 ” East Coast classic. Tim’s oysters are triploids which means that they’re available year-round. His team regularly chips the edges of the oysters, forcing the shell to grow a deeper cup, creating a plumper oyster, meatier, uglier oyster that’s buttery with a sweet finish.

 Tim’s a fellow dreamer, we really dug hearing his story and learning about oysters. It was cool to see the small crew hand-sorting oysters and witness the little guys getting thrown back in to grow some more, and all of the cleaning and human touch that goes into getting those delicious oysters in our hands.

 Speaking of – we ended the trip with an epic throw down of Uglies, Buttercups, Cultivator, Dreamweaver and even a few Nugget Nectars in the mix. A box of oysters, a broken shucking knife and a few empty bottles later, we were on our way. Tim, thank you for being such a great host! The oysters were so fresh I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face… pretty much the whole drive home. I highly recommend the trip.

 Oh, and we are happy to share a little piece of Barren Island with all of you. This week, we’ll feature Barren Island Oysters exclusively on the Snack Bar menu, served on ice with citrus mignonette. AND, Chef is preparing an oyster pie for Sunday brunch. Recipe below as well. Cheers!

 A Note from Chef Christian: I can’t exactly say how many oyster pies I’ve made (I know it doesn’t beat out the piles of crab cakes), but there’s something magic about ‘em. Like shucking the little yummy from its shell, the excitement of cracking the pies crust and digging for the gems beneath.  Here is how we like to bake the sea rock pies here.  Have fun making one at home, I recommend adding family tradition sides from yester year….and a chaser of Cultivator.

 Makes 4 Small Pies

Use white brulee style ramekins/cast iron skillets or 8-10 oz casseroles

  The Crust:

6 cups Saltine cracker crumbs

8 ounces melted salted butter

1 tablespoon chopped dill

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Directions:

Combine above ingredients and set aside

 

The Stew:

24 shucked oysters, strained (liquid reserved)

1 onion small dice

1 carrot small dice

1 celery rib small dice

½ fennel bulb small dice (reserve tops for garnish)

3 red potatoes small dice

1 leek small dice (just the white part..remember to wash thoroughly)

2 cups heavy cream

2 oz flour

4 oz salted butter

1 lemon, juice and zest

1oz pernod (optional)

Directions:

1.                Place a 6 quart sauce pan on medium heat.  Add butter, onion, fennel, carrot, celery, leek, and potatoes.  Saute till golden and tender.  We like our veggies to retain some texture, if you want them soft add a little water to steam them.

2.                Add pernod (if using) and cook till dry.  Add flour to catch fat then immediately odd oyster juice, lemon juice/zest, and heavy cream.  Lower heat to medium low and reduce until liquid coast the back of a spoon.

3.                Once mix is thickened remove from heat.  Take ramekins and pack bottoms and sides with half the cracker crumbs.  Evenly distribute step and top with oysters.  Top with remaining bread crumbs and bake at 375f for 15 minutes.  Serve with a spoon and Cultivator.