I think I have mentioned my love of Guinness before. It was the first beer that really made me change my view on drinking beer and actually enjoying it. Pair that smooth, dry pint with a belt of Jameson’s Irish whiskey and you have a match made in heaven. The bitter roastiness enhances the sweet vanilla of the booze and I have spent far too many evenings being talked into things under the influence of this pair.
Times they do change, I suppose, and a really great thing has been occurring lately. Guinness taps are disappearing all over Colorado. Normally, this trend would worry me to no end but what they are being replaced with is Lefthand Brewing’s Milk Stout on a nitrogen gas blend. Wow… What a replacement. Lefthand’s Milk Stout has been the iconic milk stout in my mind for years. In bottles, carbonated with CO2 it is awesome. Roasty, caramelly, with a strong nut-toffee flavor with just a float of the lactose-based sweetness carrying the beer out at the end. Sounds pretty good, eh? A while back, at the brewery they would put Milk Stout on nitro from time to time. So much for trying other Lefthand stuff in the taproom on those days… It takes all of the best qualities of Milk Stout and amplifies them while smoothing out the mouthfeel into velvet and softening the edge of the roast. It is like melted ice cream and that is not a bad thing. So good.
Anyway, I really know next to nothing about distribution and bar accounts but this stuff has been turning up at a ton of bars lately, pushing the Old Irish Black off of the nitro tap. Most recently, I found it at Zio Romolo’s Alley Bar where I do a Pub Quiz on Thursday nights. (It is worth noting that they have completely reinvigorated their few taps and it is one hell of a good thing.) So this allows me to consume with impunity and Nitro Milk Stout has usurped the venerable triple-tall Jack and Coke as my go to beverage. I love seeing it around and hope that this trend continues.
Now on to the important part. A pint of black needs a bit of booze with it. So what is it? Those of you that know me are aware of my love for American and Irish whiskeys. Sorry, I can’t get a taste for Scotch and I think this will be worth addressing at another time. I have drunk a bunch of different whiskeys with Nitro Milk Stout but the only one that seems to make sense is Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. For my palate, they pair just as tight as Guinness and Jameson’s. Stranahan’s, to me, is really flavorful but it has a reserved quality to it that gives it a tighter vanilla character than some of your sweeter options You also find bright florals and a touch of menthol and fuel. These characteristics tie in well with the sweet dessert notes of the Milk Stout. Depending on which you sip first, you can haul more sweet chocolate notes out of the stout or enhance the sultry undertones of the whiskey. God damn it is good. My mouth is watering. I would not disparage either of these drinks individually but they definitely transcend when put together.
This should be the Colorado state drink if you ask me. Both of them conceived and made right here in the place that I call home. I think it needs a name of its own or something. It is a great way to pass an evening and after a few, I think you could still talk me into the same 21-year old antics and shenanigans that G&J’s used to years ago.