Best case scenario if you ditch your boring job as a deck swab and jump ship just to get marooned on an island? That island is teeming with fresh oysters ready for the plucking. That’s the tale that 21st Amendment weaves on the can of their seasonal Marooned on Hog Island, an oyster stout that uses the shells and brine from Hog Island sweetwater oysters.
Oyster stouts aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, but they’re not hard to find either. Flying Dog makes the popular Pearl Necklace; there’s even a brewery down the street from me that makes a pretty solid version as their flagship. I love oysters, maybe more than most people, but given the subtlety of the bivalves in general, they always struck me as an odd brewing adjunct. It’s not like you’re adding an overwhelming component like grapefruit juice or habanero peppers to the beer. You’re adding a food that’s known mostly for its consistency, not its taste. There’s not a lot of oyster that comes through in your standard oyster stout, and Marooned on Hog Island is no different. The oyster in this oyster stout is subtle. It’s nuanced. But listen, do you really want to drink something that tastes a lot like oysters? No. No you don’t.
The beer pours a thick, jet black, like the kind of disorienting darkness you find at the bottom of a cave. The nose is mellow, dominated by notes of coffee and maybe a mild earthiness. Much like the oysters themselves, the mouthfeel steals the show—it’s rich, thick and silky, but also has a faint chalkiness to it. The taste is dominated by roasted notes of coffee, and a thin layer of sweetness that comes across a bit like barely ripe cherries. The oyster shells contribute just a hint of brininess, with a thin layer of salt that lingers on your lips. It’s not as salty as a gose, but it’s there.
If nobody told you that this was an oyster stout, you’d probably miss the brininess altogether and just think that it’s a really solid stout. And that’s probably the highest compliment you can pay to a craft beer—that it works really well even without the adjunct.
Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewing
City: San Francisco, California
Style: Oyster stout
Availability: Seasonal, four-pack cans