October 19, 2012

Having spent most of my working life in advertising, I know only too well that marketing is often about dreaming up some gimmick that will get people’s attention.

Now you don’t need to get their attention for long; maybe just long enough to get noticed—or if you’re really lucky, long enough to make a buck or two.

So it was with a bare smile that I noticed the recent introduction at GABF of Wynkoop’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, reportedly brewed with real (roasted) bull testicles. What started out as a joke last spring morphed into reality, as beer drinkers took the April Fool’s day jest seriously and started asking about the nutty brew. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the brewmasters at Wynkoop decided to bag it and deliver a tasty, palatable package.

Reportedly, the 7% ABV brew tastes pretty good, which is certainly a relief. I’m sure a lot of beer drinkers gravitate toward this sort of crazy stuff—inspired by an “I dare ya” attitude toward brewing big, brash, ballsy beers made with all kinds of crazy ingredients. It used to be stuff like chile peppers, unusual herbs, bananas…but these, while out of the ordinary for beer, were still commonly enjoyed foods. Now I feel we’re gravitating toward even stranger stuff—not for the taste possibilities—but for the shock factor. Like the beer recently made with yeast from some the brewmaster's beard.

I’m all for fun and experimentation. But I’m also kinda wondering how long before we see Donkey Wang Weisse, Armpit Ale or Bird Poop Pilsener. Gimmicks can be fun. But enjoying a simple great beer can be a memorable experience that lasts a lifetime – or at least one you’ll want to return to now and again.


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