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July’R oyster celebration at Alewerks a yummy way to dispel an outdated myth [Free read]

Question: What month is best for eating oysters?
Answer: Every month!

Join AquaCultured and Tommy Leggett from York River Oysters at Alewerks on Wednesday, July 14, for local beer and fresh oysters. The good time dubbed July’R celebrates the region’s most famous shellfish that’s even more delicious when paired with a hometown brew.

Get both at Alewerks at 189B Ewell Road in Williamsburg starting at 5 p.m. Bring your A-game, too, for some coastal themed trivia that starts at 7 p.m.

Now if you’re still stumped as to what exactly July’R means, it’s coined in an attempt to dispel a myth that oyster farms like Leggett have battled for years. Too many folks still believe you can only enjoy oysters in months that include the letter “r” in their names.

That would eliminate May, June, July and August — some of the best months to grow and eat.

What was once a foodie tradition no longer holds up, Leggett stresses, and that’s because of another r — refrigeration. When refrigeration was lacking many years ago, the prolonged exposure to hot air could expose the oysters to bacteria making them dangerous to eat. Hence, oysters could only be safely enjoyed in the colder months — the ones with r’s in their names.

But sustainably grown oysters like the ones Leggett and other locals grow are always in season.

“We’re strictly regulated by the Health Department,” Leggett says. “Way back in the day there was a lack of refrigeration, and if you think about it, the colder months have r’s. Everything’s refrigerated now. We’ve got a very short time frame and window to go out and harvest and get our oysters under refrigeration so they’re safe even during the warmer months. We’re all inspected. We have to adhere to a lot of guidelines. As long as you’re buying from a reputable, certified dealer, you should have no trouble eating shellfish in the summer.”

Leggett’s not only reputable and certified — his York River Oysters are distinguished by their buttery, briny taste. He practices environmentally friendly aquaculture, which means no need for any chemicals or substances that will interfere with their fresh taste.

You’ll find York River Oysters on the menu at Berret’s Seafood, and on July 14, they’ll be at Alewerks. Leggett will be happy to shuck some for you to sample on the spot or take home; he’ll be there until 8 p.m.

“It’s easy to get oysters this time of year, and they’re good oysters,” said Lisa Lawrence, the marine education program leader for AquaCultured, a Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Virginia Sea Grant program that helps shellfish farmers find new ways to get their catch to your table. “Having this event at a brewery is a nice way to combine oysters with brewed beer, and it plants the seed in people’s mind that it’s a great time of year to enjoy oysters.”

Coastal Thirst, a food truck that uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients, will be on hand, too, serving roasted oysters and oyster tacos to pair with your pint.

Don’t be shy about asking Leggett for his favorite ways to prepare oysters if you plan to take your shellfish home. He shares several recipes on his website; ask for his favorite.

Remember there’s trivia, too. To get you started —

Question: What day should you set your calendar for to enjoy the best oysters along with craft beer?
Answer: July 14 for July’R

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