Back in November I noted the return of oyster stout to the Eastern Seaboard, courtesy of Flying Fish of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
I'm happy to report that Legend Limited has made arrangements to bring Flying Fish's new "Exit" series to Maryland. A pallet load of the Exit 4 American Trippel is currently in their East Baltimore warehouse and making its way through the distribution channels, but only a scant few cases of the Bayshore Oyster Stout made it--and Legends was kind enough to provide me a sample bottle.
At 7.5%, this is obviously a "bigger" beer than Fordham's retired 5.4% version. Pours with a rich, chocolate-milk-colored head. The initial nose is of a much thicker and richer stout yet, easily on par with the 10% stouts of last night, not so much alcoholic as roast-packed. The initial palate is rich and full, initially seeming like a Russian imperial stout or an over-the-top chocolate stout, with almost roasted-to-charcoal blackness. The flavor mellows a bit as it washes down the throat, more drinkable and easy on the palate than the initial promise. What would normally be a somewhat astringent bitterness from so much extra roast flavor is mellowed somewhat by the chalkiness I recognize as a calcium-fortified (gypsum, milk, or oyster) stout. Having mentioned chocolate already, there's a certain milk-chocolate-like creaminess in the mouthfeel, but it's only vaguely chocolate-flavored at best. As the tongue gets used to the roast bitterness, a bit of ale-yeast "fruit" perks up. It's still a downright dry stout, however, almost smoky. If there's outright oyster flavor in this beer, I can't find it for digging through all the roast and chalk.
Yes, this is a beer you should try. Oyster stout is way up on my own list of "beer styles you have to try before you die or proclaim yourself a beer expert," and this is an absolute classic. If I were making it, I'd try for a couple malts that left a few unfermentable sugars and residual bit of sweetness to balance all that roast, and/or back off the roast just a bit, but the palate and character of the beer is spot on.
More on Flying Fish's NJ-Turnpike-based Exit Series at its own website here.
Picture from Tales of Ales, where another review is posted. I would have posted a photo of my own bottle, but the numerous pet otters we keep around here ran off with the half-full bottle when I wasn't looking (easy to do, what with NPR's The Thistle & Shamrock and the Winter Olympics playing simultaneously while I type).........