Beer has a long history of being what was handed out as a substitute for a meal to workers, and thus many heavy, rich brews survive to this day. Whenever I’m out late with friends, and I starting to feel peckish, instead of leaving the bar for a bite I order something meant to fill me up. Dark beers, with a creamy base and a complex flavor, are, in my mind, the best thing a brewer can produce. Hence: my love of the milk stout.
The Left Hand Brewing Company makes a marvelous Milk Stout, which is smooth, not hoppy. Its a very creamy brew without being too complex. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is one-note, but this is definitely not a beer I would order to ponder over the flavors of. If you were to pair this with a burger, it would be like eating two burgers. With both orders of fries. The milk stout is something you order instead of getting pub food, not with your pub food (unless, I suppose, you haven’t eaten all day and plan to be up drinking all night). A Nitro Milk Stout is definitely a good choice for someone just starting to foray into the world of stouts, as long as he’s had his introductory Guinness first.
Reference Point: DRINK IF YOU LIKE Guinness BUT WISH IT WAS less bitter
Every now and then, I come across a beer that I really only get a sip of. This is because, as soon as I taste it, I immediately start pressing it on everyone around me. This was the case with Founder’s Breakfast Stout. As I’ve written previously, I am an avid fan of milk stouts. I prefer nursing a complex, hearty beer to throwing back a dozen run-of-the-mill light beers. With this in mind, I had gotten myself a mix-a-six of stouts at my local distributor to try out something new, and picked up the bottle largely because the idea of double-chocolate-coffee-oatmeal-beer actually being had for breakfast tickled me.
Though I did, in fact, only drink about a quarter of this bottle (the rest zealously shared with bewildered passers-by whilst I was camping) it left an impression. The beer was, yes, heavier than my beloved Kozel Cerny, but not quite as heavy as a Guinness or Nitro is. This is a nitrous beer, creamy with no hops to speak of; it was smooth and sweet. The distinct aftertaste of chocolate and coffee was there, but the flavors were complex enough that I wouldn’t want to pair the drink with anything.
Reference Point: DRINK IF YOU LIKE Guinness BUT WISH IT WAS sweeter and more complex.
It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of hoppy beers, nor of anything particularly heavy. So it was with great delight that I came across a beer to fit the grad student budget while I was in Europe, and it quickly became my favorite beer. Up until that point, I hates beer, having only known of mainstream American fare. Happily, it seems as if the brew has finally made its way across the ocean to North American stores, and it will hopefully be only a matter of time before it comes into the US market. The beer comes in about ten varieties, ranging from Cerny (dark) to Svetly (pale), but this review will focus on the dark brew, as I only had the time to re-familiarize myself with one Kozel brew while passing through Canada and picked my old favorite.
This is, as stated, a dark beer, not hoppy. Surprisingly, though, it is light for its creamy texture and rich base. It has a malted, almost nutty flavor, without being sweet. As it is strong without being too complex, I enjoyed pairing it with spicy pub fare, like hot wings (being vegetarian, I can’t speak to how it tastes with chicken, but it goes well with tofu and seitan).
Reference point: DRINK IT IF YOU LIKE Guinness BUT DON’T LIKE how heavy it is.