Top Menu

The Session #1: Left Hand Milk Stout

The SessionHope you’re in a stout mood today, because you’re going to read a lot about them in various blogs in the first round of The Session. The theme today is “Not your father’s Irish stout.”

By Monday I will summarize posts on this topic from here and there and provide links.

As the instigator of this event I felt an obligation to make a good choice. I don’t mean the most spectacular stout I could find, but one that sets a tone for how I intend to approach this on a regular basis.

I thought first about a New Mexico beer, because I believe you should drink local and we have some excellent stouts in our state. But unless you come visit then you aren’t going to have much of a chance to find one of these. So I picked a beer from the region, from a brewery I know well, and one I’d certainly call “a good home”: Left Hand Milk Stout.

We (Daria and I) met Left Hand Brewing founders Eric Wallace and Dick Doore not long after they opened in 1994, introducing ourselves at the Great American Beer Festival because my aunt Gretchen lives in Longmont, where Left Hand brews. It took us three more years to get by the brewery, and it was the 50th for our daughter, Sierra. She was taken with the red-and-white Left Hand logo we brought home, and it’s likely one of the reasons she learned her left from her right early on.

Left Hand BrewingAlthough Left Hand distributes its beers in New Mexico, we often could find seasonals only in the Longmont area (this has changed, plus the Milk Stout is available year round and at a nearby grocery store). Left Hand produced just 20 barrels of Milk Stout the first year it was brewed and we missed it.

The second year our timing was better, so we were in Longmont about the time it was released. On the way to my aunt’s house we stopped at a liquor store. When I headed directly to the cooler and pulled out Milk Stout the man standing next to me – surely the one whose large motorcycle we had parked next to, given his leather garb and tattoos – nodded in approval.

“It’s smooth man,” he said.

It is, but like that biker not too smooth. The addition of milk sugar (lactose) provides a constant creamy sweetness that balances an abundance of aromas and flavors. Typical for Left Hand, the beer is made with five malts plus flaked oats and flaked barley. It proves a brewer can pack impressive depth and complexity in beer not much stronger than Budweiser (5.2% abv vs. 5%).

The nose is chocolate and burnt toast, with more rich chocolate and coffee flavors in the mouth. The finish is relatively dry, leaving a memory of coffee and sweet cream.

Michael Jackson writes extensively about milk stout in his Beer Companion. Its London inventors sought a patent in 1875, they deemed the deemed the invention of a milk beer so unique. Jackson reports that by 1936 Mackeson’s Milk Stout was available nationally and the style began to be included in the range of most breweries.

The Mackeson’s label included the rather bold claim: “Each pint contains the energizing carbohydrates of ten ounces of pure dairy milk.” That didn’t last long.

Jackson concludes his history lesson with this thought: “For those with a lifestyle sufficiently leisurely, or eclectic, to permit a mid-afternoon or early evening restorative, a glass of sweet stout and a piece of cake is an innocent pleasure.”

25 Responses to The Session #1: Left Hand Milk Stout

  1. Stonch March 2, 2007 at 7:00 am #

    Mackeson is widely available in Britain today. I understand it was being contract brewed by Young’s in Wandsworth, not sure if they are now making it up at the Eagle brewery in Bedford. It comes in four packs of 33cl tins and is cheap as chips. I have tried it a few times, not bad.

  2. Ray March 2, 2007 at 7:28 am #

    I went with a Mackeson XXX Stout for my contribution to The Session. Can’t wait to hear about some new brews from all those participating.

  3. Loren March 2, 2007 at 7:33 am #

    Not a blogger but…I will be “toasting” to all you guys who waste my time during the work day.


    East End’s Black Strap Stout is my choice of darkness. Along with some Holland death metal.


  4. Stonch March 2, 2007 at 7:41 am #

    My contribution was Shoredtich Stout from Pitfield in England.

  5. Greg Clow March 2, 2007 at 8:28 am #

    Jaysus, you people are drinking early today! 🙂

    My post will be up tonight. I’ve drunk several stouts this week in preparation, so I might do a multi-stout round-up.

  6. Rick March 2, 2007 at 8:33 am #


    Nice review of a nice beer. I almost went with the Left Hand myself, but decided to go with Foothills Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout instead.

    It will be fun seeing what everyone comes up with today. Perhaps we could publish a book on stout tasting notes before the day is done!


  7. Alan March 2, 2007 at 8:53 am #

    I appear to have liked this one, Stan, but I am with Greg. It is way too damn early in the day for these Session posts to start. There needs to be a “yard arm” rule.

  8. Stonch March 2, 2007 at 9:00 am #

    Hey guys! I’m in England, and I posted my review at lunchtime! Don’t mark me down as an early morning drinker! 😉

  9. Stan Hieronymus March 2, 2007 at 9:25 am #

    I think we only specified posting on Friday, with drinking whenever.

    Personally, I try not to drink and write at the same time.

    When we get around to the simultaneous toast, though, I’m voting to do it on Stonch’s time.

  10. Alan March 2, 2007 at 10:04 am #

    Maybe that is it – I try to write exactly when I am drinking. Drunk writing below 0.80 was removed from the Criminal Code of Canada back in ’57 and I like to exercise my full rights anytime I can.

  11. Chuck Triplett (Chazwicke on forum) March 2, 2007 at 10:20 am #

    I had a very nice Oatmeal Stout out at Bill Madden’s (Vintage 50) the other evening. Very tasty. One of the reasons I enjoy oatmeal stouts is because they are usually a little mellower and not so all out roasty or overly harsh. I like the subtler aspects. Nice idea on the session blog.

  12. James March 2, 2007 at 10:22 am #

    […] Blue Fin Stout has a taste that meets the style with a mouthfeel that doesn’t. The beer was very drinkable although probably not a great example of the style. […]

  13. SteveH March 2, 2007 at 10:44 am #

    I’ll have to have one of my last New Glarus Coffee Stouts in honor of session day. I just hope it’s mellowing some, the roasted barley was harsh in the first bottle or two.

    Definitely not my Father’s stout…oh, wait – my dad’s German. How about not my Grandfather’s stout? 🙂

  14. Joseph March 2, 2007 at 12:02 pm #

    I have a post up on stout based cocktails today at our blog

    Some Stout-Hearted Drinks

    This carnival is a great, great idea. Loving it!

  15. Jon March 2, 2007 at 1:01 pm #

    I’m not writing when I’m drinking, either… did my tasting/drinking last night, wrote up the review this morning. I figure if I waiting to do my drinking the day of, by the time I get off work and get posted, the day is over for most of the world! (At least I’m only on the West Coast, and not farther west…)

    Rick, I like the idea of a book! Perhaps after there’s been a bunch of Sessions, it could all be compiled into a volume arranged by style and self-published a la or something similar…

  16. tedo March 2, 2007 at 3:22 pm #

    Was I happy this day was finally here!
    Chose an oldy but a goody, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.

  17. Jay Brooks March 2, 2007 at 3:41 pm #

    As long as I’m just sipping, I like the immediacy of beer to lips, fingers to keyboard but usually do just stick to notes and then write it up later. My “Session” was like all my beer drinking sessions, filled with pointless buy enjoyable (at least to me) conversation followed by a beer review of a local fave, Marin’s San Quentin’s Breakout Stout.

  18. Dann March 2, 2007 at 4:43 pm #

    I managed to remember this and actually got around to drinking one today. I’m suprised as hell.

    Went with an Old Rasputin myself – powerful and tasty. Looking forward to reading everyone else’s… and to next month.

  19. Lew Bryson March 2, 2007 at 5:50 pm #

    I did what I usually do: traveled. Had three different stouts at three different brewpubs in the Philadelphia area. I was just going to have one…but it was such a beautiful day today that I let myself be seduced by the road. I love you, road.

  20. Eli March 2, 2007 at 6:31 pm #

    I went with one of my favorites, Schlafly’s Kaldi’s Coffee Stout:

  21. Jessie Jane March 2, 2007 at 7:35 pm #


  22. Jordan March 2, 2007 at 9:21 pm #

    I am both amazed and pleased that you chose the Lefthand Milk Stout – I was considering that one myself (*gloat* as I happen to work only two blocks from the brewery *gloat*), but I felt like it would be more in the spirit of the day to try something new from the beautiful state of Colorado. I chose the Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Stout and, as a back up, the Avery Out of Bounds stout, (and I’m glad I did, because Alan beat me to it).

  23. Greg Clow March 2, 2007 at 10:02 pm #

    Made it with just moments to spare!

  24. Andy March 5, 2007 at 7:38 am #

    Posted Friday … commented today. Too many beer-related things to remember!


  1. The Session #49: Regular Beer: The Brew Site - March 6, 2011

    […] appropriately enough, Stan is once again taking up the hosting mantle (he hosted the very first Session in March […]

Powered by WordPress