Oysters and stout are natural bedmates, the stuff of happy hours going back to pubs in Victorian England. The oyster stout itself – the dream marriage of salt and sweet, work and play, sustenance and frivolity – is credited to early-twentieth-century makers who added the bivalve's meat or shells during the brewing process. We're pleased to recommend the latest entrant in this historic but still somewhat exotic genre, 21st Amendment's Marooned on Hog Island. Dark and briny, the beer's a limited-edition collaboration with the Hog Island Oyster Co. (whose beloved counter in the San Francisco Ferry Building serves up the best in bivalves from Tomales Bay, where, as the company says, "extreme tides and cold, clean, brackish water create an oyster's paradise").
For Marooned, 21st Amendment founders Nico Freccia and Shaun O'Sullivan took 450 pounds of Hog Island sweetwater oyster shells, brewing them with Magnum and Willamette hops and a half dozen malts. The result is a beer that pours like strong black coffee and tastes of bitter chocolate, smoked meat (in a good way), and brown bread, with a silky, mineral finish that cuts stout's typical malty sweetness. Like the oyster, Marooned's not a straight shot but moves around the mouth with an assertive but elusive air that's reminiscent of sea spray on the face. But we're overanalyzing it. Part of 21st Amendment's special Insurrection Series, this beer's only around until it's gone, so seek it out while you can. [21st-amendment.com]