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Milk stout takes its name from the milk sugar that is added to a stout to sweeten its taste. As a style of beer, milk stout was developed more than one hundred years ago as an alternative to the ales, stouts and porters of the time. In those days, milk stout was promoted as having nutritional value and was frequently prescribed to nursing mothers.
The Left Hand Brewery of Longmont, Colorado has made classic milk stout uniquely its own with the infusion of nitrogen directly into the bottle without using a widget. The combination of nitrogen and a low level of carbon dioxide together with flaked oats and flaked barley gives the beer its creamy texture, smooth body and almond colored collar of foam.
The brewery provides instructions on the label telling consumers to pour the beer straight into the glass at a 90 degree angle. After pouring, a one half inch cream like head of foam appears, lingers and continues to add successive layers of silky beer lace to the inside of the glass, and at some point, there is a faint but pleasant aroma that is mostly malt. Although hops (Magnum and US Goldings) are used in the recipe, they are overshadowed by the combination of several grains. There are 25 Bitterness Units (IBUs), which is at the high end of the range for a beer of this type. The hops compete with a full line of grains including: Pale 2 row barley malt, nitro keg malt, Crystal, Munich, roasted barley malt, flaked oats, flaked barley and chocolate malt. In addition, milk sugar provides sweetness and is the key ingredient in all milk stouts.
The beer’s flavor is best described as having a complex mix of soft roastiness, mocha and sweetness. There are also hints of espresso and chocolate as well. At the end, the stout leaves the lingering impression of a good desert.
This is really fine milk stout that any beer drinker who likes to try different beers will enjoy. It has an opaque, almost black color (at the top of the color chart at 47 SRM), with a 6% alcohol level that should suffice for any occasion. Some people might be tempted to wait for cold weather before trying it, but don’t miss out; Left Hand Milk Stout is a beer that provides year round pleasure.