Drink of the Week: Left Hand Brewing Co.’s Nitro Milk Stout

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Michael J. Casey

Beer fests are fun. If you’re an attendee. Working one is a different story. It involves a good deal of patience, and unflappable faith that the beer you’re pouring will resonate with hundreds of ticket buyers — many of whom are there for the atmosphere, not the beer.

“Give me the least beer-y beer you got,” Left Hand’s cofounder Eric Wallace recounts. “And I say, ‘How about I give you something that’s totally different?’”

He pours them Milk Stout — a dark, malty, slightly sweet concoction that catches most off guard.

“People go, ‘I didn’t know beer could taste like this,’” Wallace says.

Brewed with six standard malts and two classic hops, Milk Stout has a hit of lactose (unfermented milk sugar) to give the body an extra silkiness and a dollop of sweetness in the taste. It weighs in at 6% alcohol by volume and goes down without a fight. The nose is a little nutty with a hint of brown sugar. The roasted malts are subtle, the lactose is sweet, and the hops clean everything up.

Solid stuff, but quaff it on nitro, and Milk Stout starts singing a bawdier tune. There’s a sexiness to the hiss and gurgle of the pour, the tight, tiny bubbles cascading up the glass, the thick collar of foam on top, the velvety mouthfeel… No wonder it bears the moniker “America’s Stout.”