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Wynkoop Brewery’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout Is a Beer With Balls, Literally (a review)


Photo courtesy of Thrillist
The craft beer industry in the U.S.A. has grown exponentially in recent years, after decades of American beer being ridiculed by Europeans as being unsophisticated, weak and watered down. Nowadays, there are hundreds of microbreweries in the U.S. to bring pride to the American beer industry, with thousands of formidable brews being made in classic styles as well as some experimental ones. And leave it to Denver-based Wynkoop Brewery, Colorado’s first brewpub, to step up this trend of experimentation with its new Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout — made with bull testicles. How’s that for something an American can be proud of?

“We take our beer very seriously. We’re artists. Our people in the brew house are artists,” said Wynkoop spokesman Marty Jones, the idea man behind the peculiar concoction. “So, there was some reservation about what this would do … but fortunately our brewers had the balls, if you will, to step up and make the beer.” (My conversation with him at the Wynkoop brewpub was filled with many puns like this.)

People thought it was nuts (get it?) to use bulls’ gonads as an ingredient for a new beer, even within the brewery. It actually originated solely as an April Fools’ Day gag, when the folks at Wynkoop produced a video for our national day of practical jokes that announced a new, albeit fictitious, brew made with the main ingredient of the region’s infamous dish of gimmicky cuisine: fried bull testicles, aka Rocky Mountain oysters:

YouTube Preview Image

“It was a lot of fun, and we thought that was that. We did a video. It achieved its goal: we got a bunch of laughs,” Jones told me. “But then the day we sent [the press release] out, several writers and editors came back to me and said that it’s ingenious and ‘I’d like some samples.’ And I’m going, ‘It doesn’t exist.’” Patrons of the brewpub in Denver even asked for it, and Wynkoop repeatedly had to explain that it was all a big joke.

And so, this April Fools’ prank inadvertently turned out to be the brewery’s biggest publicity stunt. To continue that ride, they decided to cause a ruckus by actually producing Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout for the 2012 Great American Beer Festival last October, which turned out to be a good marketing strategy since it’s hard to stand out in a crowd of hundreds of talented breweries.

To make a long story short, the popularity of the gimmicky beer went viral in the beer community, and many bars around the country began to request it. Wynkoop then decided to brew it in eight-barrel batches at a time for the season, and see how it goes from there. There have even been talks to distribute it via online resellers because so far, everyone from the Today show to Anderson Cooper have had nothing but good things to say about it.

Good things, you ask? Isn’t it, after all, a beer brewed will bulls’ balls? Well, the thing is, any taste of the testicles is overpowered by all the other flavors: roasted barley, chocolate malt, coffee and hazelnut — not that I know what bull testicles in this form are supposed to taste like.

Only 25 bull testicles — each cut into slices about a half-inch thick and then roasted — are added to the mash tun during the mashing process of brewing for an eight-barrel batch. If you do the math, that translates to 25 testes for 1,984 pints of the beer, or 1.26% of bull testicle extract per pint. With that small percentage, it’s hard to know what the bull testicles actually do for the beer’s overall taste with everything else going on in the recipe, but perhaps their presence contributes to the stout’s extra smooth, velvety texture, or accentuates its nutty tones — pun intended.

In the end, if you didn’t know of any “secret ingredient” and simply had this stout without any reservations, Wynkoop’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout is a good beer. A really good beer, in fact, especially if you’re into stouts. Head brewmaster Andy Brown has created a delicious brew that isn’t too sweet or too bitter, which finds a balance with coffee, chocolate, nuts and smoky flavors. And at 7.5% ABV, it’s got a bit of kick.

Final Verdict: 5 (out of 5) stars.

Beer tastes are really dependent on the individual beer drinker, so this concoction may or may not be for you. Personally, I prefer stouts and porters over hoppier beers like IPAs, and therefore Wynkoop’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout is right up my alley — even more so since its bittersweet taste was unexpected. Who cares if there’s a ballsy marketing gimmick to it? It’s simply a great stout — and that’s no bull. The bull is in the beer, after all.

Erik Trinidad is a food and travel writer and author of Fancy Fast Food: Ironic Recipes with No Bun Intended, based off his popular food humor blog.

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