I’ve found that my tastes and preferences changing a bit over the past few months. Where I would have never drank stouts and porters willingly, I have recently found myself enjoying them more than most IPA style beers. I guess it could have something to do with the fact that I haven’t had an IPA that has really blown me away lately. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my favorites (i.e. Jai Alai, Single Wide, and Good People’s IPA) but everything else I’ve had lately just doesn’t do it for me. I’ve been drinking a lot of stouts and darker beers as I previously mentioned, and I’ve found a lot of beers that are really, really awesome. Currently, I’m a total fan boy for the Left Hand Milk Stout, but there’s a problem, because not many places are carrying it. Plenty of places have the Left Hand Brewing Nitro Milk Stout, but I’m talking about the O.G., plain and simple Left Hand Brewing Company Milk Stout; which is nothing close to plain and simple. This beer was fantastic and I’m so happy I found it. Here are my thoughts:
This beer poured a deep black, typical of most stouts, and had a fluffy, bubbly mocha colored head; about two and a half finger widths. After the head settled, there was nice lacing that gathered around the top of the glass, and was a great indication that there would be a ton of lacing as I drank. After pouring, I did my usual waft and sniff, and I picked up on a TON of sweet cream. When I say sweet cream, I am referring to the smell of half and half. You could tell from the scent alone that there was going to be a great creamy flavor. Aside from the powerful punch of half and half, you get some coffee scents and maybe even some toffee. This beer, on scent alone, ranks up there with the Maduro from Cigar City Brewing; I could smell both of these all day long.
Taste follows nose for the most part, and that was welcomed. Spearheaded by a faint chocolate flavor, this beer is really one of the most balanced stouts I have ever experienced. As you continue to drink, you get a lot of the creaminess that you picked up on from the nose. There is a slight flavor of some toasted elements that add to the wide array of depths that the beer has. The roasted malt adds a nice slight bitterness, but there are isn’t a strong hop presence. Toward the end, you get some coffee flavors and a little more vanilla that culminates in a dry finish. The dry finish gives a slight false sense of sessional aspects, but that is NOT true. This beer, while very tasty, is very heavy, and very filling. It’s a great dessert beer if this is all you’re going to have for dessert. The flavor is exactly what I wanted it to be. When I see milk stout, I expect a level of creaminess that almost masks the bitterness and a level of sweetness to make it really enjoyable; much like I’m not even drinking a beer.
The mouthfeel was the perfect accent to this brew. The beer has a thick mouthfeel, like syrup; settles really heavy in your mouth and stomach as well. The carbonation level could have been a little higher because it was a little flat, and after sitting out for a bit, it was almost completely flat which was a bit disappointing. If you’ve read this column before, you know that I’m a stickler for carbonation levels, and this is probably the only time I will ever complain about carbonation being too low. Just something that I was thinking of and wish it was a little different. As it settled on the tongue, the flavors get stronger and stronger; you can really pick apart the different elements and layers of flavors. Overall, it’s really silky, really smooth, and really, really good.
Overall, this has been one of the best stouts I’ve had in a while and Left Hand Brewing seems to be known for their darker beers rather than anything else as far as I can tell. The perfectly executed Left Hand Milk Stout builds its body on complementary layers and flavors. The velvety mouthfeel is what did this one for me; along with the quintessential sweetness and chocolate notes that were ever-present. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this brew and I’m glad I know where I can get it now. This definitely won’t be the last time I pick this one up. If you’re not a fan of sweeter dark beers, this one will make a believer out of you. Trust me.

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