Sunday, December 30, 2012

Milk Stout Nitro (Left Hand Brewing Company)

I love stouts. Irish-style dry stouts or sweet milk stouts -- it's all good with me. In my experience, milk stouts are a little less common to find on the shelves, so I make a point to try them when I can. Lancaster Brewing Company's version is quite good, and is one of the few that seems to be readily available my area.

When I read last year that Left Hand Brewing Company was coming out with a milk stout, I added it to my wish list. I enjoyed the brewery's flagship beer, Sawtooth Ale, a few times last summer, and besides, I was curious what nitrogenated beer in a bottle would taste like.

As instructed by the bottle's label, I gave the beer a hard vertical pour, which resulted in a pleasant cascading wall of bubbles in the glass. The foam is a slightly brownish cream color and is so dense you're hard pressed to make out individual bubbles. Hangs around for the whole glass, too. The beer itself is effectively black, giving up a tinge of mahogany around the edges when held to light.

The aroma is sweet and roasty with nary a hint of hops.

Nitrogen gives this full-bodied stout a luscious, silky mouthfeel, almost without fizz. (By the way, there is no "widget" in the Milk Stout Nitro bottle, as found in cans of Guinness, Boddingtons and others. The nitro appears to be dissolved in the beer.)

True to its style, the beer has a deep roasty malt flavor with a faint smokiness. Just as it seems the flavor is about to descend into char territory, creamy sweetness swoops in and gathers the malt in its soft, pillowy arms and deposits it gently on the back of your tongue, where hops lend subtle counterbalance. As the beer warms, more floral and herbal hop notes come to the foreground. (The varieties used are Magnum and US Goldings, I was informed by Lora Berger of Left Hand, who was too polite to point out that this information is freely available on brewery's website.) Roasted barley is the main note remaining in the aftertaste.

Overall, a very nice milk stout, and a fine beer to inaugurate one of the shapely new Dogfish Head pint glasses my kids gave me for Christmas.

Incidentally, check out this crazy cookie recipe which uses this beer as an ingredient and is recommended to pair with it: Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bacon, Beer and Cayenne

From the bottle's label:

Brewed on the banks of the mighty St. Vrain
Super smooth with soft roastiness and mocha flavors

Featured beer:
Milk Stout Nitro

Honorable mentions:
Lancaster Milk Stout

Sawtooth Ale

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