21st Amendment Brewery
San Francisco, CA
Marooned on Hog Island Oyster Stout
One of my favorite niche beer styles is the oyster stout. I don’t remember what exactly turned me on to the style, but I’ve always really enjoyed the contrast of a rich stout with the briny dryness of the oysters. (Note: I hate dry stouts, so this is one of those weird things where I don’t understand myself.)
Up to this point, Coast’s Bull’s Bay Oyster Stout has been the best I’ve found, but Marooned on Hog Island, the newest beer from 21st Amendment – one of the breweries I wish we had in South Carolina – is now among “best I’ve had” status.
Marooned is a collaboration with Hog Island Oyster Co. in Marshall, CA. The brewery takes a rich sub-8% stout brewed with rolled oats, chocolate malt, white wheat and Magnum and Willamette hops and adds Hog Island Sweetwater oyster shells into the brew. The result is – in a word – briny
The first thing that hit me on the nose was a really dry cocoa powder chocolate quality. It was certainly dried out, as an oyster stout is wont to be, but this was akin to sticking my face in a mound of cocoa powder. There was a very light espresso bean note on the back and some light hints of sweeter dark chocolate, but the brine smell is incredibly strong. It certainly has that smell you’d expect from oysters.
The taste was surprising at first but finished exactly as I’d hoped it would. It begins with this very smooth semi-sweet chocolate taste. There’s not much bitterness on the front. In the middle of the mouth, this big dark roasted coffee quality comes up. It’s quite bitter but surprisingly pleasant, and it’s complimented nicely by the cocoa flavors that follow. As it gets to the finish, there’s a really smooth mouthfeel that glides down your throat, and then it just kind of ends. But that doesn’t last for long. Just as soon as you think it’s done, this incredible brine flavor and slight dry finish come out of nowhere. It literally made me snap my fingers and say “There it is!” Wrapping it all up are these strong espresso and vanilla bean flavors that linger throughout the mouth.
It’s no surprise that 21st Amendment’s newest offering impressed me, but Marooned honestly ranks up there with Monk’s Blood in terms of quality and flavor. It would be a great stout on its own, but what the oysters do – dry it out just enough while imparting their own unique flavors – was what really impressed me. Oysters and stouts are like chocolate and peanut butter to me: a perfect combination that gets me every time, and this is certainly up there as one of the best.