BEING A BANNERMAN OF DARK ALE, it’s always a pleasure to see a brewery present a stout as its standard bearer. And few can claim such a following as Colorado’s Left Hand Brewing, whose Milk Stout has become America’s premier lactose-sweetened stout (New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk being a slight misnomer). These beers often fall prey to childish regression, attempting to disguise all traces of alcohol in favor of a ‘grown-up milkshake’ to be slurped with squealing ease. And Left Hand’s Milk is indeed a sweet treat, more cocoa than coffee, more roasted than toasted, with added milk sugars lending body and the hint of a pumpernickel chocolate dessert item, it’s true. And yet, assertive carbonation and a nuanced array of malts preclude any cloying aftertaste and suggest a sturdy grain base. Very smooth mouthfeel and splendidly thick head, of course, even before the line expanded to include a nitro-dispensed packaged option for store buyers. In short: if a stout must be sweet (and it mustn’t, really), let it be Left Hand’s.
Served: On tap (Small Bar, Chicago)