Milk Stout - Lancaster Brewing Company, Wilkes-Barre
Milk Stouts have always fascinated me. Beer and milk are two things I don't generally think of as complimentary flavors, just like coffee and beer... Stouts, being so dark and malty make it all possible. The sweet from the lactose sugar helps mellow out the bitterness from such a high concentration of dark malt. Coffee is at the other end of the spectrum, and something I really don't care for. Somewhere in between lies the Lancaster Milk Stout. I know what you're thinking, it says Milk Stout right on the bottle, so it should be sweet, smooth and dark. It's most of those things but I think it has a couple important flaws.
With a picture of a cow on the label I was expecting this beer to be more milk and less Stout as far as levels of sweetness goes. And I'm still a bit torn... This beer checks all of the Stout boxes, it's dark, it's malty and it smells just a little like coffee. The sweet milk part of the equation if missing, or as least seriously under represented. This is a good, solid stout. It weighs in at about 5.3%, not a heavyweight but these aren't beers I'm looking to spend my whole night contemplating. Being lighter than other stouts there is less of that fog of war sensation where big flavors vie for possession of your taste buds. The battlefield here is more of a no-mans land, but I mean that in a good way, because you can spot all of the player. You've got the coffee component over where, malt is strewn about over here and hobbling along in the back is the sweet milk flavor. This is a rather mellow Stout so it's not like the flavors are being drowned out, they just aren't strong as I'd like.
The bitter malt and roastiness is the big player in this beer. It tastes vaguely like coffee but not enough that I'd call it a Coffee Stout. I'd barely call this a Milk Stout on the other hand because of the absence of that sweet milky goodness.
In the end, I enjoyed this beer. It was easy to drink, if a little bitter, and it kept me entertained. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good session Stout or entry point into the world of darker beers. For someone who is looking for a great Milk Stout, I'd have a list of other beers they should check out first.