Beer Review 0386: 21st Amendment Marooned On Hog Island Oyster Stout

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21st Amendment began operations in the year 2000 and are located just two blocks from where the San Francisco Giants play baseball. Both principal founders — Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan — took a brewing science course at UC Davis, trading their successful careers to follow the passion of brewing beer.

As you might suspect, 21st Amendment is named after the actual 21st Amendment of the United States, which repealed the evil Prohibition.

This is my first Oyster Stout; yes, actual oysters are used in the brewing process. The first known use of the mollusks in beer was documented in 1929 in New Zealand; since then, you could classify it as more of a gimmick than an actual meat-and-potatoes ingredient. Often, only a handful of oysters are tossed into the kettle, and sometimes “Oyster Stout” is just a name given to the brew to suggest it could be paired with oysters.

However, Marooned On Hog Island does indeed use the real deal (specifically oyster shells), and it is a collaboration between 21st Amendment and Hog Island Oyster Company. Coming in at 7.9% ABV (alcohol by volume), the oysters are used to add a salty, silky finish to this highly malted brew.

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The pour produced an average size, light brown head, soapy and fast diminishing. The color of the beer was dark brown, and when held to light, presented some ruby highlights. Body was clear, free of particles and sediment, and the lacing was pretty good, leaving thin trails of suds.

On the nose, Marooned On Hog Island smells like a typical stout — roasty, with notes of chocolate, coffee, and some sweet caramel. The sweetness reminded me of a Milk Stout. There’s a light hint of smoke in there, too.

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Chocolate and caramel open the taste, and the saltiness of this beer quickly comes out. Salty chocolate and caramel can be good, but when you introduce coffee to the picture, things start to get a bit weird. The initial saltiness wears off, leaving a nice middle taste of caramel, coffee, and chocolate, very sweet; then, the finish comes on, bringing back the salt and a moderate bitterness. The more this brew warms, the more bitter it seems to get, and I didn’t think the bitterness and salt played nice. Marooned is medium-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.

For my first Oyster Stout, I found this to be really unremarkable. The flavors are typical stout, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but the saltiness the oyster shells add didn’t contribute in a positive way, at least to my palate. Sometimes hoppy beers can be so hoppy that it registers salty on my taste buds — this was just plain stout salty, no hop presence and not worthy of a repeat performance.

21st Amendment Marooned On Hog Island Oyster Stout, 77 points. Price: $1.99 US for one twelve ounce can.

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