I guess it is officially winter in Boston, even though it hit 70 on Christmas Eve I now see snow on the ground when I look out the window and I pulled my winter boots out of the closet for the first time today. The one positive to the long and cold winter is that the weather is perfect for dark and malty beers, especially porters and stouts. I love stouts and porters, but modern brewers have a tendency to overdo it a little as they push these styles to the extreme. It seems like every new stout is high ABV, aged in liquor barrels and infused with crazy adjunct ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well crafted bourbon-barrel aged imperial stout, but I need to mix in lower alcohol beers that won’t immediately put me under the table. Shockingly, a good example is Coffee Milk Stout from Stone Brewing Company, not a brewery that you usually equate with restraint. Stone Coffee Milk Stout is a English style milk stout, so it contains lactose, a non-fermentable sugar that adds some residual sweetness, along with coffee from Ryan Bros. in San Diego. It is available in the late fall/winter on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Stone Coffee Milk Stout pours pitch black with a minimal tan head. The scent is a mixture of roasted malts and coffee. The flavor is malt forward, notes of dark chocolate, caramel and toasted bread. The coffee is well represented but not overwhelming, and the lactose sweetness adds balance to the bitterness from the coffee and noticeable hops. The beer is medium bodied and drinks easy, at 5.0% ABV this is a session beer by some definitions. The finish is clean with some lingering roasted barley and coffee flavor. Stone Coffee Milk Stout is well done and surprisingly restrained. This demonstrates that you can make full flavored stouts with moderate to low alcohol, I would love to see more of these on the market. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
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