Friday, June 1, 2012

Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro

Another month, another beer. This time, it's one that came all the way from the mid-west. One that isn't available out here in Los Angeles. But one that I procured nonetheless through the magical, wonderful world of beer trading --- my latest and greatest addition to the ever expanding world of getting drunk as a hobby!
The Beer:
Milk Stout Nitro is a beer that I've long been curious about. It's been around for a little while, slowly expanding its distribution footprint across the mid-west and outwards. But the closest it ever got to me was somewhere in Colorado. So, I decided to go the internet route and seek out an online store that would ship it. I had several successful hits, but all listed only Milk Stout as being available --- not the Nitro version. What good is that? Who wouldn't choose a variety with the super-hype moniker "nitro" added to it? It's like saying to a kid: "Hey, do you want to watch Power Rangers? Or Power Rangers NITRO?" Check and mate! But with beer, apparently that might not necessarily be the case. For the uninitiated, when beers are advertised as being on nitro, that typically means that they are being served from kegs that are pressurized with NO2 as opposed to CO2. The carbonation from nitrogen dioxide is significantly smoother than that of carbon dioxide. The air bubbles produced are much smaller and thus result in a much smoother drink. Most people are familiar with this from beers like Guinness or Murpheys. The "cascading" of the carbonation that is visible on the glass is the clear indication of a beer served from a nitro tap. And away from the bar, most people know of Guinness' patented "widget" which works through the magical process of tiny elves inside the can fluttering their hands as fast as possible to stimulate the beer. Yet Milk Stout Nitro has found a way to incorporate this process into a glass bottle without the requirement of any widgets (or elves for that matter). And part of the process in creating the cascading effect is adhering to their "proper pour" technique. That technique is actually quite simple. You, 1) pour hard, and 2) admire & enjoy. That's it. No angling the glass, no slow pours, no confusion. You pour it hard and quick and watch the magic happen. The result from said magic...pretty awesome! Milk Stout has a thinner quality to it than many of the bigger, boozier stouts. But it still retains strong notes of coffee, vanilla, and biscuit. There is also a tangy aftertaste to it that I imagine is slightly imparted from the lactose added in that gives it it's name. And it goes down nice and smooth...and quick.
The Buzz:
As one may have inferred from my previous statements about the scientific properties of nitrogen versus carbon dioxides, the smaller air bubbles and smoother carbonation result in a silkier drink. The cool temperature combined with viscous texture reminds most people of drinking a milkshake. With Milk Stout Nitro, you take things a step further by imparting many similar flavors and aromas. Yet unlike a milkshake, this drink has alcohol to speed you up and no ice cream to slow you down. So despite the fact that this beer has a modest 6% abv, I think I drank a pint of Milk Stout faster than any other beer I've had since beginning this blog. The resulting factor was that the first 3 beers went down in the same amount of time it often takes me to drink 1 more alcoholic stout of another nature. All factors considered, I think that the resulting buzz was probably equal to one of those barrel-aged 12% monster stouts that I have aging in my beer cellar (which is really just a crawlspace storage closet I have in my office where I save some of the more rare and special beers I've collected). When it was time to go for the 4th (and final) beer for this experiment, I had to pause and take a break. Not only did I not want to completely diminish my supply of Milk Stout, but I also wanted to let my palate cleanse, my senses straighten, and my thirst build. For this was the last bottle I would get a chance to have for a long while, and I wanted to remember it.
The Hangover:
After a night of drinking the maximum allotment of beer I allow myself for this blog's purpose in a record time, I wasn't sure what sort of hangover I'd wake up to. Typically, I can get a good sense of what hangover awaits me based on how much alcohol I can sense in the beer. Something that's 15% aged in bourbon barrels that has a burn to go with each sip often lends itself to a worse hangover than an English mild sporting something under 4% abv. But with the combination of easy drinking and nitrogen delivery, I really had no clue how this particular beer would affect my body. As it turns out, I hit the jackpot with this beer. After pounding through 48oz of Milk Stout the night before, I awoke with absolutely no symptoms of a hangover whatsoever. There were no headaches, no stomach ailments, not even any dehydration. I even got a pretty decent amount of sleep and woke up ready for a full day of renovation work on our garage. If I hadn't known better, I'd assume that this beer is actually a nutritional requirement delivering all sorts of vitamins and minerals to my body through the tiny, microscopic nitro bubbles. It's quite unfortunate that I have none left and won't be getting any more any time soon.
The Verdict:
Milk Stout Nitro more or less lived up to the hype that I had created for it. Although, I can see some downsides to this beer. I'm sure that the nitro effect fades over time. The longer the beer sits on the shelf or in your fridge very likely diminishes the subtle carbonation provided by the nitrogen. That particular element for delivery seems to be less forgiving to improper storage, temperatures, and even pouring methods. Which, unfortunately means that this isn't a beer I can just trade for en mass. And trading is not a very econimical method of obtaining beers. You must not only buy beer to send in exchange for what you'd like to receive, but you must actually send it...which is expensive as shit. That said, should Milk Stout Nitro ever find it's way here to Los Angeles, it will probably become a regular-ish purchase off the shelves for me. If for no other reason, it's always fun to share with people and show them the proper way to "pour hard" and "admire & enjoy"

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