Whether you’re a skim, two-percent, or whole milk drinker, Jan. 11 is a day to celebrate anything and everything milk. It’s National Milk Day and, of course, Peaks and Pints celebrates with a flight of milk stouts, which we call Craft Beer Crosscut 1.11.19: A Flight For National Milk Day.
Milk stouts originated in Europe in the 1800s. The style emphasizes a malty sweetness with hints of chocolate and caramel. They are sometimes called cream stouts or sweet stouts. Brewers intensified the dark, chocolaty malt body with lactose, the sugar in cow’s milk, hence why they’re more often called milk stouts. Brewer’s yeast can’t ferment lactose into alcohol, so it hangs around to give you a rich mouthfeel and a soft, creamy sweetness, balancing out the bitter and roasted qualities typical of its cousin stouts. It makes sense. Heating milk to very high temperatures, which also has the effect of caramelizing some of the milk’s sugar, makes evaporated milk. That sugar is the same lactose found in milk stout, and is subjected to similarly high temperatures during the brewing process. We also detected an interesting tang, and we can’t help but wonder if this is attributable to the lactose as well, as lactose will ferment into lactic acid in the right conditions. Whatever. Done right, you can be extraordinary, like the five milk stouts in today’s beer.
Craft Beer Crosscut 1.11.19: A Flight For National Milk Day
6% ABV, 25 IBU
Without going into the chemical physics of solubility and gas diffusion, let’s just say that nitrogen has a silky effect on beer. Nitrogenized brews, as opposed to carbonated ones, have a softer mouthfeel, taste less acidic and boast a creamier, more stable head. Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout was no bore before, and on nitro, it’s even better. Cocoa and burnt flavors from its dark roasted grains come forward first, followed by a wave of sweet cream thanks to the use of lactose sugar. Magnum hops help give the 6 percent-alcohol brew a bitter finish that entices the next sip. Throughout, the beer’s ultra-smooth texture inches it closer to chocolate milk than you thought a beer could get.
7.5% ABV, 28 IBU
Kick your peanut butter fix up a notch with Belching Beaver Brewing’s Mexican Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout. Formally named Viva La Beaver, and prior, Living La Beaver Loca, Belching Beaver changed the name to highlight the key flavors of this award-winning beer. With notes of creamy peanut butter, cinnamon, roasted coffee, thick chocolate, cookie dough, fudge, brownie batter, cappuccino, toffee and dark roasted malts upfront, we get a little vanilla on the mid-palate. This decadent milk stout is the definition of dessert beer.
5% ABV, 30 IBU
The milk stout, also known as an English sweet stout, emphasizes a malty sweetness with hints of chocolate and caramel. Some versions, like Paradise Creek Brewing’s MooJoe, add lactose for more body and softness. The Pullman, Washington brewery takes its beer one step further by cold conditioning it with fresh ground coffee from Bucer’s Coffee House across the border in Moscow, Idaho. The result is a smooth, light stout with coffee and chocolate notes and slightly bitter on the end.
Trap Door Brewing tossed real waffles in the mash tun while brewing their decadent Super Treat Neapolitan ice cream stout. Then, the Vancouver, Washington brewery conditioned this milk stout on strawberries, vanilla beans, and cacao nibs. All the ingredients make an appearance, including the waffles. Yes, this stout is super sweet, but it’s also super delicious.
13% ABV, 48 IBU
Against the Grain‘s bottles are full of attitude that jumps out at you on the shelf. Located in a former train station on Main Street in Louisville, Kentucky, this rapidly expanding brewery and restaurant brews on a 15-barrel system, in addition to brewing at Pub Dog Brewery in Maryland. It’s 70K is essentially Against The Grain Brewery’s 35K Milk Stout recipe doubled: double roasty, double chocolaty, double creamy, double delicious. Then, the Kentucky brewery aged it in Angel’s Envy Bourbon barrels for notes of rich molasses, brown sugar, bourbon, roasted malts, dark sugars, oak and coffee with a bitter finish.