Stout season is nearing an end here in Alabama, but there’s always time for one last hoorah; especially when the last hoorah is this good. I heard Grayton Beer was working on an Oyster Stout a while back, but then I guess I forgot about it and went on about my business. A few weeks later, as I was scrolling through Instagram, I saw a “Franklin County Stout – Oyster Stout” written on their draught listings in their taproom.
Once again my interest was piqued and I desperately wanted to try it. I commented on the picture asking if the beer would be making its way to Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, because we get only about two to three of their offerings at a time. Andrew, Grayton’s Birmingham rep, replied and told me to email the brewery with my question; I did and waited on a response from someone. A few days later I got an email from Andrew saying that he had a few bottles and would be willing to let me have one so that I could try the creation. So, we met up at Hop City, Andrew explained the beer in a greater detail, and then I was on my way. I took it home, threw it in the fridge, and then waited until I couldn’t stand it anymore (that same night) before I drank it. Let me tell you, this is a force to be reckoned with. Here are my thoughts:
Alright, so I know that a lot of people hear the words oyster stout and are immediately turned away. I’m here to say that you absolutely shouldn’t be, because the flavors blend so well, especially if it’s done right, and you get a beautiful bouquet of aromas that really just put you right on the coast with a platter of empty half-shells. Andrew informed me that Grayton’s head brewer, hilariously named Shank, wanted to recreate the experience of eating a raw oyster, and what better place to do that in than the Gulf Coast of Florida. Everything from the lemon, to the pepper, to the brininess is present in this one and it makes for an interesting, yet extremely enjoyable beer.
Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, immediately I noticed the pitch-black color, and the thickness from when it poured. Honestly, I was nervous about how thick the beer was, because I didn’t want it to be super heavy and overwhelming, and I didn’t want this to falsely represent the experience of eating oysters. The aroma was one of the most complex areas of the beer, because as I stated earlier, you pick up some lemon and some peppery notes. The flavor aspect of this beer drops a bomb on your taste buds. Seriously, Andrew wasn’t joking when he said that they had simulated the experience of eating oysters. Upfront you get a lot of that classic stout flavor, coffee and some roasted maltiness, but then you start to get notes of lemon and a slight salty brininess that instantly puts the thought of saltwater in your mind. Towards the end of each sip, you get a little bit of a peppery burn on the back of your tongue that makes it just that more addictive. With all of these complex and nontraditional flavors from the oyster-like additions, it shouldn’t be overlooked that there is a great stout base here that allows everything to build off of those core flavors that everyone is used to. Nothing is too overpowering here and the flavors are all pretty mild which makes for an extremely easy to drink stout. That’s probably for the best, because it gets hot as Hell in Grayton during the summer, but I wouldn’t have a problem throwing back a few of these at sunset.
The mouthfeel of the beer continues the streak of excellence and takes those great flavors to the next level. The carbonation level is on point and could not have been better; any more and it would have been too rough on the tongue and any less and it would have felt uncarbonated. A velvety feeling on the tongue and a nice bit of foam towards the end of each sip make it really smooth and easy going. I would even go as far to say that it has a nice dry finish with a little more of that brininess, albeit faint, on the back of your tongue mixed with a little black pepper. This beer is something special on so many levels.
Overall, this is something that needs more attention, because of the beautiful craftsmanship that went into making it. From taking almost every aspect of eating a raw oyster and then turning it into a briny, peppery bottle of malted goodness, the Franklin County Oyster Stout blends a plethora of magical flavors into something you really have to taste to believe. Lucky for us, Grayton is releasing some bottles at Hop City in Birmingham very soon, so, I suggest everyone take a trip up and grab a four-pack before they’re gone, because you do not want to miss out on this.

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