A craft beer with brewed with bull testicles has to be a joke, right? Well, it started out that way, but ended up becoming a very real beer indeed.
Wynkoop Brewing Company’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout was nothing more than an April Fools’ Day joke. The Denver brewery made a parody video announcing a new locally-sourced beer brewed with “one of Colorado’s unique culinary jewels,” cooked bull testicles, known out West as Rocky Mountain oysters.
The two-minute clip featured Wynkoop employees earnestly discussing their creation, bar patrons enjoying deeply satisfying sips of the stout and lots of holding and jiggling of large bovine boy parts. It was equal parts unsettling and hilarious.
The video went viral, and requests starting coming in for the beer.
“I was surprised by the number of people who didn't get the joke and wanted samples of the beer,” Wynkoop’s resident idea man Marty Jones told TODAY.com. “We also had a few dozen folks show up to the pub on April 1 looking to drink the beer. That was a sign.”
Story: Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout Q&A with Wynkoop’s Marty Jones
People wanted the Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, so Wynkoop decided to make it, but not without a few reservations.
“A beer with bull testicles could lead some of our fans to think we're making light of our craft and resorting to trick plays,” Jones said. “There were a few concerns about offending people.”
But in the end, they decided it was all in good fun. “We are in the entertainment and spreading-joy trade,” Jones reasoned, “so this beer was a perfect pretension smasher.”
Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout was released last week at Wynkoop’s eatery, and was also poured at their table at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. “We were in the worst spot of the festival floor, in the back corner, but had the biggest crowds we've ever had at our GABF table,” Jones said.
Twenty-five pounds of bull testicles were used in the eight-barrel batch, giving the beer, as Marty Jones says, a BPB (balls-per-barrel) rating of 3.3. The Rocky Mountain oysters were sliced and roasted before being tossed into the mash tun, and a dash of sea salt was added to help bring out the flavor of the beer’s meaty treats. The entire yield of the first run was about 350 gallons.
So what does this beer taste like? It pours an inky brown with a fat, mocha-colored head that quickly dissipates. This 7 percent ABV stout smells like a normal stout, with earthy notes of chocolate and coffee and just a hint of booziness, something I prefer.
The first sip is…hard to take. I’ll come clean and say the idea of drinking a beer brewed with the better part of a cow’s manhood doesn’t really appeal to me. But then again I’ve eaten plenty of beef hotdogs in my day, so if a cow can grow it, I’ve probably enjoyed it with mustard. But knowing exactly which parts are on board makes it harder (especially after watching them quiver in the video).
Manning up and taking a sip, Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout proves to be a dry affair, with tastes of chalky chocolate blending with notes of medium-bodied coffee.
The mouthfeel is just right, with just a touch of the slickness. The finish of the beer features a relaxed bitterness that gently fades, revealing a mildly savory undercurrent, perhaps the mark of the Rocky Mountain oysters.
Overall, the beer is very dry, allowing the savory elements to flourish without having to compete with too much sweetness from the malts. This is a well-designed beer, one that’s both delicious and unique.
Whether you believe Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout is made tasty by testes or has been corrupted by cattle clankers, one thing is clear: in many ways it’s a poster child for America’s robust and unique craft beer scene. The origins of this beer show the humor of brewers, and how an enthusiastic network of craft beer geeks can take a video prank and turn it into something real. Even better, it demonstrates that craft brewers are listening to their customers and willing to take risks brewing weird beers.
“One of the small-batch beer trade's hallmarks is having fun and defying the mainstream and redefining what beer is all about,” explained Jones. “This beer does all of that in grand, funny and delicious fashion.”
Right now, Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout is impossible to find outside of Denver, but that should be changing. “We had already applied for label approval to Uncle Sam…so that we can sell it in cans soon,” Jones said.
In the meantime, Wynkoop is selling Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout T-shirts. The shirts make sense; this is one of those rides where you deserve an “I survived” souvenir.
Jim Galligan is co-founder of the Beer and Whiskey Brothers blog, where he and his brother Don cover the ever-evolving world of craft beer and distilled spirits. Follow him on Twitter.
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