Tonight’s brew review was inspired by a recent post on a Reddit subreddit. The subreddit in question is /r/beer and the specific post is right here if you’d like to read it. It was the subject of the post that grabbed my attention, I have just tasted one of the finest beverages to ever grace my lips. The beer was brewed by the Left Hand Brewing Company out of Longmont, Colorado, simply named Milk Stout.
Being a budding homebrewer, I knew that this beer was made using lactose sugar which adds little to the ABV but it tends to sand off the rough edges of a beer and lend a little sweetness to it. I was under the impression that adding lactose to the brewing process was a small form of cheating on the final taste. But this beer was brewed with lactose listed as its primary ingredient in the style of a stout. Hmm. Blatant cheating? I think not.
I knew that the Four Seasons beer store had some Left Hand beers on the shelf, so I beelined it there on Friday morning with the hope that I’d snag a sixer of this milk beer. As I perused the shelf, I noticed that they had one sixpack of Milk Stout left. As I went to grab it, Barry, one of the owners, told me from behind the counter to check the cooler and that they had “many new beers” in there.
With the warm sixer in hand, I ambled over to the cooler and cast my eyes upon the bounty. Yep indeed. There were quite a few new beers available. A couple of new ones from Metropolitan in Chicago and some beers from breweries I never heard of. But wait… I caught a glimpse of a sixer of Left Hand Milk Stout right there behind the glass. In the cooler! Sweet. I grabbed it and returned the warm one to the shelf.
At the counter I paid the required nine bucks for six beers and wondered on the way home just how sweet and milky this beer could possibly taste, expectant of one of the finest beverages to ever grace my lips.
After an aborted Friday beer review and quality time with a couple of sons out in the Manly Garage, Saturday morning rolled in around noon and the day began for me. Overcast skies with drizzles off and on were planned by Mother Climate and I was glad to spend the afternoon out in the garage in a constant 70° temp.
When beer time rolled around, I opened the beer fridge and gasped. It was damn-near empty except for the stout and a few cans of house beer. Why didn’t I notice this last night and make a mental note? Oh yeah, there was too much camaraderie to bother to remember. Crap. Off to the beer store again, just to minimally replenish supplies just in case another spontaneous party breaks out.
Finally, it was time to drink beer and not buy it. I grabbed the first bottle of Left Hand Milk Stout and examined the label. Hardly any information worth sharing was on the labels except for the fact that the Left Hand Brewery uses clean energy provided by SimpleSolar, and that the beer was “Brewed on the banks of the mighty St. Vrain.”
It was the sixpack carton that spilled a little more light on the subject at hand. Both endcaps of the carton read:
Milk sugar in your stout is like cream in your coffee. Dark and delicious, America’s great milk stout wil change your perception about what a stout can be. Preconceived notions are the blinders on the road to enlightenment.
Sometimes you’re not in the mood for what everyone else is having.
In a little postage stamp sized blurb on each side read:
Best Stout in America
attributed to Draft Magazine.
Now let’s try this beer.
The beer poured up with a nice tan head of about 3/4-inch of rather thick, bubbly foam. The liquid was quite dark as expected and didn’t let any light shine through and therefore the carbonation of this beverage was taken for granted. The aroma was very slight but had a mild dark-sweet scent to it.
The first sip was an absolute dream. The liquid had a lot of body to it, just as viscous any other stout out there. The middle flavor was a nice, almost chocolaty sweet and the swallow was mild and quite tasty. This is a stout without all the overly roasty-toasty bitterness. This was more like dessert just as the Reddit post comments said.
There was no sting in any of the ensuing swallows and the creaminess of the beer was like silk in the mouth. It was a stout with none of the complications. A nice middle-of-the-road dark beer (stout) with a real nice sweetness to it and a rich flavor combining a hint of chocolate with a hint of coffee.
There was plenty of rich, dark, malty flavors which are the main base to this beer. The creamy silkiness and subtle sweetness are what make this beer an excellent libation. It might be a little tame for some diehard stout drinkers, but this beer has all the qualifications of a hearty stout enclosed in an aura of subtle sweetness as to defy description.
There was absolutely no hint of heat in any sip and at 5.2% ABV, this beer might be great for a short session of dark, creamy chocolatiness.
Although the foam dissipated as the glass was drained, the beer left a nice lacing clinging to the inside. I almost expect a slurry of chocolate down at the bottom of the glass when I finish it, similar to what’s left after drinking a chocolate milk mixed with Hershey’s syrup.
Understand that this beer does not taste like milk in any way. The milk part in its name comes from the lactose sugar (milk sugar) that the beer was brewed with. Lactose is not as fully fermentable as other sugars used in brewing and will add to the mouthfeel and leave the beer creamy. That’s exactly what we had here.
This is an excellent beer with a full, rich body and a taste that must be experienced. Tasting only slightly of coffee and chocolate, the creaminess of this beer makes it a real special treat. This would fit in perfectly after a hearty meal. Forego the chocolate cream pie and have a milk stout instead.
I consider this beer to be at the opposite end of the stout spectrum, with the imperial stouts down at the deep end. This would be a great intro beer for any newbie who wants to try a stout. The lady in your life might like it as well. There’s a lot of finesse in this beer. I urge you to try a sixer Left Hand Milk Stout if you spot it on the shelf.
Taste: A- > Dessert in a bottle.
Smoothness: A > Beer on a Maglev suspension.
Drinkability: B+ > Soon, very soon, they’ll all be gone.
Bang for the buck: B > Worth the price of admission.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Wow that’s dark. Coffee smell. (sip) Ooh. I get a lotta… (sip) Oh, it’s dry, oh. (sip) Really dry. I’m getting a lot of coffee flavor, two-day old coffee flavor. It’s not for me. (Why are you wincing? Chocolate? Don’t you get any chocolate? Sigh…)
DRAFTMag.com tours Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, Colorado