Beer Review 0314: Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
Last year, Left Hand Brewing Company (Longmont, Colorado) released a Nitro version of their popular Milk Stout. I’ve reviewed the original Milk Stout in the past, and scored it 90 points — it’s an outstanding beer, and one I constantly return to when I want a milk stout.
What makes the Nitro version of Left Hand’s Milk Stout different is the fact that it contains nitrogen. When nitrogen is used to dispense beer, it displaces the carbon dioxide and forms a tight, creamy head atop the liquid. By taking out some of the carbonation, the end result is a rich and creamy beer — nitrogen is used for dry stouts, the majority of the time, the most famous being Guinness. The nitrogen also creates a “cascading” head, where the head appears to come from the bottom of the glass, rising upward.
Now, what makes Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro REALLY unique is the fact that the nitrogen in the bottle isn’t produced by a widget. A widget, found in some beers, fires off the nitrogen when you crack the bottle crown or can top. Left Hand actually obtained a patent for their method of getting the nitrogen in the bottle, so it is a trade secret.
Coming in at 6% ABV (alcohol by volume), just like the regular version, Milk Stout Nitro is brewed with lactose, an unfermentable sugar that adds sweetness and body. There are pouring instructions on the side of the bottle, which encourages you to “pour hard” in order to release all of the nitrogen. As my normal glasses that I use to review beer are only 13 ounces, I used a different glass for this brew so I could pour hard and get everything in the glass, in order to show you exactly what this looks like. IBUs (International Bitterness Units) on this beer are 25.
Pouring hard produced a thick and gorgeously creamy head, large and off-white atop what appeared to be a jet black beer. Further investigation in bright light proved this beer was actually ruby red in color, crystal clear, free of particles and sediment. The head cascaded from the bottom of the glass to the top in a matter of about thirty seconds. Lacing was superb, leaving behind very thick foamy suds.
Here’s a first for this beer review site: my first foray into video! I took a video of the pour on this beer, so you could see for yourself. Check it out:
On the nose, Milk Stout Nitro featured lots of black coffee, along with notes of both milk and dark chocolate. There’s a general roasted note, with a touch of smoke and hint of caramel. The scent is pretty sweet, and although you can’t exactly smell lactose, you can take in what it’s done to this brew. I classify this as the Stout aroma for beginners to the style — it has strong flavors, but presents them in a way that invites you to drink and not be afraid of the dark color of the beer.
This one is equally about the mouthfeel as it is the flavors — up front, bold milk chocolate with faint fresh roasted black coffee. The beer is, as expected, exceptionally creamy and silky smooth in the mouth, which is just a joy to experience. The finish comes on, bathing the tongue in soft carbonation — the flavors don’t change very much, with a fresh hit of coffee and both milk and dark chocolate, touching a slightly bitter edge as it concludes. Shockingly drinkable, this beer is medium-bodied.
It says on the label, “America’s Stout.” Well…this could very well be. If you’ve got some friends that like Guinness but generally turn their nose up at other dark beer, turn them onto this. It’s more intensely flavored than that, but not too much; and the gentle flavors coupled with the seductive mouthfeel are sure to be a winner. I could drink this anytime. The only downside: the nitrogen will cost you an extra couple of dollars per six-pack.
Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro, 93 points. Price: $11.49 US for a six pack.