Brewers are constantly pushing the boundaries of acceptable beer ingredients. Fruit beers once seemed exotic and are now commonplace. Pumpkin beers are an annual tradition, and chocolate stouts are an improved form of dessert.
Shellfish in beer is obviously getting really close to that imaginary line that separates interesting from inedible, but if the title of this review hasn't scared you off, you've come to the right place.
San Francisco's 21st Amendment Brewery makes one of my favorite stouts in the world. In collaboration with nearby Hog Island Oyster Company, "Marooned on Hog Island" is brewed with 450 pounds of Sweetwater oyster shells. It's a playful take on what a stout can be.
I like oysters, but I'm well aware of why a beer brewed with the shells of that mollusk could be a turnoff. Even if you're not the most adventurous eater or drinker, I urge you to give this beer a shot.
Marooned on Hog Island pours mussel-shell black with a frothy, brown head. It smells like the sea, briny and raw. Chocolate also comes through in the nose, which is the most intimidating part of the beer.
Dip your toe in and take a sip. There's a clean minerality to the mouthfeel, but very little of that salt-water taste comes through. Instead, you get delicious caramel, chocolate, and roasted coffee notes. Oyster water only floats in and out of the background on your palette. Worries about this beer being "fishy" in any way were completely unfounded, and the flavors of the shells only act to cut the sweetness of the brew. Off flavors are nowhere to be found. I could easily drink more than one of these.
Marooned on Hog Island has an ABV of 7.9% and was brewed using Magnum and Willamette hops and several types of malts, including Crystal, Carafa, and Chocolate. A four-pack of cans sells for around $10.99. I've been draining Southie's Local 149 of their supply for weeks.