Beer Review: 902 Brewing’s Kürtőskalács Milk Stout

Name: Kürtőskalács
Brewing Company: 902 Brewing Company
Location: Jersey City, NJ
Style: Stout – Milk/Sweet
ABV: 7.4%

“902 Brewing has crafted a very flavorful dessert stout and a great interpretation of the classic Hungarian cake/dessert treat.”

From 902 Brewing’s page for their beers:

Brewed to mimic a delicious Hungarian dessert we had in Budapest, this milk stout has just enough sweetness to round out the dark and roasty coffee presence with a cinnamon aftertaste.

Sometimes you get a taste of a beer at a Beerfest and you want more. That’s the case for this sweet dessert stout from 902 Brewing. Two years ago, at the Bridgewater Beerfest, I had a taste of this beer and liked it but wasn’t seeing in my local stores, I really wanted to get the “full pour experience” of this beer. I was finally able to snag a four pack of the beer and I’m very pleased I did. Subsequently, I thought to myself, “Self, what better time to review a beer from a brewery than around the time of the grand opening of their taproom?” You see, 902 Brewing has been contract brewing since they launched in 2014, but this month (June 2020) they officially opened their production facility and taproom in Jersey City. I’m looking forward to visiting the taproom and trying more of their beers.

On to the beer…

Pop of the can, pour of the beer and what do we have? A dark stout whose thick fluffy head is reminiscent of coffee or malted milk. In other words, it looks like the kind of stout that would be right up my alley. I don’t get too much of an aroma, maybe some of the cinnamon? But the certainly looks the part of a rich dessert stout.

First sip is on point for a Milk Stout with the roasted malt elements and the sweetness from the lactose. The cinnamon comes in immediately and is a dominant flavor element in the beer. I like cinnamon quite a bit so this is just fine by me.  For about a year or so, I was adding cinnamon into my coffee grinds for some added flavor, I’m reminded of that with this beer in a good way. I’m not sure how much of the hazelnut I get but the coffee is most assuredly present.

I also like the (here’s that word I hate) mouthfeel of the beer. The beer has the appropriate thickness for a stout of this ABV and I like how the cinnamon pops around in the beer. You don’t want to gulp this one, let it settle in your mouth a little and get all those flavors.

Aside from simply enjoying Kürtőskalács, there’s a bit of a personal connection with this beer. My uncle and grandfather are both Hungarian (grandfather was born in Hungary). Additionally, a good friend is Hungarian, and before the pandemic, she would visit her family in Hungary quite regularly. That’s the personal, Hungarian connection. As for the name, Kürtő translates to stovepipe and the pastry/cake looks like a hot chimney. A google image search proves it. I’ve had the “chimney cakes” in the past a few times, once at a local Hungarian festival, and another time, at a Christmas Flea Market/Fair, and thoroughly enjoy them. When the cakes are fresh off the interesting contraption used to make the cylindrical cake, they are delicious and one of the most popular variants or styles is with cinnamon sugar.

As an interpretation of the chimney cake, Kürtőskalács is a very successful beer. It hits the flavor notes, especially the cinnamon aspect, extremely well. The coffee elements are a welcome addition that complement the cinnamon very nice.

The Bottom Line: 902 Brewing has crafted a tasty and interesting dessert stout.

Recommended, link to Untappd 3.75-bottle cap rating / 4-bottle cap rating because sometimes, a beer tastes better a few days later.

Beer Review: Mast Landing’s Gunner’s Daughter

Name: Gunner’s Daughter
Brewing Company: Mast Landing Brewing Company
Location: Westbrook, ME
Style: Stout – Milk / Sweet | Peanut Butter Milk Stout
ABV: 5.5%

An impressive beer that is immensely flavorful yet sessionable at the same time. An upper echelon Milk Stout.

From Mast Landing’s Beer List:

Our beautifully aromatic and balanced milk stout with delicious notes of peanut butter, coffee, and dark chocolate.

Stout Day is one of those “holidays” to arise in recent years as the internet has looked to celebrate everything. Well, for many beer drinkers, it is just another excuse to have a beer, in this case a stout. For me, I try to have a different stout every first Thursday in November (a.k.a. Stout Day), like this fantastic Milk Stout from Maine’s Mast Landing.

This beer is Mast Landing’s most popular beer and something of a flagship beer and once I tasted it, I could completely understand why the beer is their top beer on untappd and Beer Advocate.

As one would expect, the beer pours out of the 16oz can very dark. It has a perfect khaki, heavily creamed coffee head. This looks like a perfect stout to me. What is unexpected is the aroma. There’s a roasted peanut / peanut butter aroma that encourages that first sip. I asked my wife, who does not like beer, to give it a whiff and she remarked that it smelled less like beer than she would have expected.

The aroma is about 60% of what makes up the taste for a person and that is very true with this beer. It has the main malt/sweet flavors a Milk Stout typically shows, but then hints of peanut butter/roasted peanut show up to the flavor party. Rounding the full profile of the beer are more subtle hints of chocolate. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this beer tastes like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but more importantly, the beer evokes that flavor. In my humble opinion, that flavor evocation is a more subtle and nuanced approach to crafting a beer and the skill of the people creating the beer. That nuanced craft skill are on full display in Gunner’s Daughter.

I don’t know if the fine folks at Mast Landing added peanut butter, coffee, and chocolate to the beer for those flavors or if the complex flavors arose from the nuanced blend of malts. I’ve had a decent share of beers with peanut butter used in the brewing process or even peanut butter powder, some of those beers range from an overpowering unpleasant peanut butter bomb to artificial, powdery false flavor. Gunner’s Daughter is nowhere on that unpleasant spectrum, the beer is delicious worth a slow sip of enjoyment. Despite the sessionable, low ABV of 5.5% this beer is exploding with delicious flavors.

I also really like the can label/art on this beer. Gold and black play off of each other really nicely and are even similar to the colors of the beer itself.

Gunner’s Daughter is one of the best Milk Stouts I’ve ever had and will likely land a slot on my “favorite new-to-me” beers of 2019.

Highly recommended, link to 4.5 bottle-cap Untappd check in.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Stout Day 2019

This day is all about the Stout. First brewed in the 1700’s, this style of beer brings us bold and malty flavors, and is well worth the celebration! Thanks for raising a pint of your favorite stout on International Stout Day!

 

Beer Review: Just Wing It from Icarus Brewing and Heavy Reel Brewing

Name: Just Wing It
Brewing Company: Icarus Brewing / Heavy Reel Brewing
Location: Lakewood, NJ / Seaside Heights, NJ
Style: Stout – Milk / Sweet
ABV: 6.6%

A perfectly rendered stout that exhibits delicious qualities of both a Milk Stout and a Coffee Stout.

From the side of the can:

Just Wing It is brewed in collaboration with Heavy Reel Brewing. Jam packed with four different roasting malts and a huge addition of lactose and oats. Post fermentation aged on Chocolate and Coffee. The Coffee is from Happy Mug Roasters and Vanilla Bean.

It has been nearly 8 months since I reviewed a stout and with the weather getting cooler, now is a perfect time to take a look at a great NJ Stout. Some folks even call the colder months “Stout Season” since stouts just feel like cold weather beer with more roasted flavors and the darkness of the beer. This preamble leads to Just Wing It, which is a collaboration between two Jersey Shore breweries, Icarus Brewing out of Lakewood and Heavy Reel out of Seaside, NJ.

Let’s get the ball rolling…or the can opening, so to speak.

The crack of the can pops and I get a little bit of coffee aroma mixed in with the smell I’d typically expect a sweet stout to produce. This is a pleasantly dark beer, with a malted milk/khaki colored head. In other words, exactly how a stout should look. Having sampled a decent amount of beer from Icarus over the last couple of years, I’m even more hopeful this will be a good one.

That first sip…it hits just about every button I want a Milk Stout to hit. The milk sugar sweetness is very present, but not to an overpowering degree. That sweetness form the lactose enhances the already sweet malts of the beer. As the beer finishes its journey through my palate, I get a very welcome burst of coffee flavor. I also taste more sweetness, likely from the chocolate which raises its proverbial hand in class to let me know it is present in the overall taste profile of the beer.

The beer has mild carbonation, and that khaki head dissipates fairly quickly. It is a smooth, delicious, flavorful stout that exhibits all the optimal qualities of both a coffee and a milk stout. A beer worth seeking out and a stout that illustrates the great quality of beer loyal customers of Icarus Brewing have come to expect.

Locally, I’d compare this beer very favorably to three NJ Milk Stouts: River Horse Oatmeal Milk Stout, Conclave’s Espresso Milk Stout, and Twin Elephant’s Diamonds & Pearls. For a national comparison, I’d stack Icarus & Heavy Reel’s take on the style next to Left Hand’s well known Milk Stout and Firestone Walker’s outstanding Mocha Merlin. Long story short, Just Wing It could sit comfortably on any shelf with any of those beers.

Highly recommended, link to 4.25 bottle-cap Untappd check in.

Another point of recommendation – the four pack barely lasted a week in my fridge before all the empties made it to the recycling bin.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

So Udderly Sweet (Level 8)

Wouldn’t it be nice if milk stouts came directly from beer producing cows? While this unfortunately isn’t the case (yet) they do have a full body and sweetness due to a larger amount of lactose and sugars.

 

Beer Review: Belching Beaver’s Peanut Butter Milk Stout

Name: Peanut Butter Milk Stout
Brewing Company: Belching Beaver Brewing Company
Location: San Diego, CA
Style: Stout – Milk / Sweet
ABV: 5.3%

Not one of my best beer photos, the bar was fairly dark.

From Belching Beaver’s beer page:

America’s Favorite Peanut Butter Milk Stout: this silky-smooth beer put us on the map. Troy came up with the idea of combining Peanut Butter with our Beaver’s Milk Stout and he nailed it. Don’t let the dark color fool you, this beer is delightfully easy to drink with cascading aromas of roasted peanuts, dark chocolate and coffee. We appreciate your continued support for helping make this style our #1 seller.

On business trips, you get the opportunity to try beers that may not be available in distribution in your area. When I was in Las Vegas last week, I saw a beer from Belching Beaver and that alone made me want to try it. Seeing that it was a Milk Stout sealed the deal.

The beer pours extremely dark from the can like you’d expect from a stout, but it is not heavy like many stouts. The peanut butter aroma is definitely present, but it isn’t the defining characteristic of the beer. Sipping it proves out that aroma, the sweetness of the lactose sugars (which give the beer its milk stout moniker) really balance the peanut flavors and swirl together with a little bit of coffee and a little bit more of chocolate. Not enough chocolate to give it a full Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup flavor, which is a good thing.

I like Milk Stouts, but I get a little wary for beers that have peanut butter. Some are too overpowering, with the peanut butter dominating every other flavor component. In any beer, it is the sum of the parts, the combination of flavor components that produce the whole, or gestalt, of the beer. Belching Beaver has achieved a delicious gestalt of flavors in their Peanut Butter Milk Stout: greater than the sum of its parts. For all the flavors in this beer, it is really easy drinking, super smooth, and goes down too quickly. With some of those other overpowering beers that use peanut butter in their beer, some may have been good, but I always though, “just one for the night” because of how overpowering the peanut butter was. That’s not the case for me with Belching Beaver’s Peanut Butter Milk Stout, I’d be happy to drink a couple back-to-back.

Where an intriguing label and name drew me in, the perfect balance of flavors kept me wanting more. As of the writing of this review, Belching Beaver doesn’t distribute into NJ because if they did, this would be a beer in my regular rotation.

As I said briefly on my check in untappd, this is the best Peanut Butter beer I’ve had.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-star rating.

Untapped badges earned with this beer: Heavy Weight (Level 57)

Heavy Weight (Level 57)

You like it thick and dark. Your beer! What did you think we were talking about? That’s 285 different beers with the style of Porter or Stout.

 

Beer Review: SingleCut’s Eric, More Cowbell!

Name: Eric More Cowbell! Chocolate Milk Stout
Brewing Company: SingleCut Beersmiths
Location: Astoria, NY
Style: Stout – Milk/Sweet
ABV: 6.6%

The beer’s description on SingleCut’s Landing Page for the beer:

WE’VE GOT A FEVER – And there is only one cure: a lusciously creamy, slightly sweet Stout that sits atop a roast malt base and huge cocoa infusion that will rock all night long.

It has been quite a few reviews since I wrote about a stout, specifically a Milk Stout. I’ve tried to vary up the styles in these reviews even if Milk Stout is one of my favorites sub-styles of stouts. A multi-repeat style beer would have to stand out (in the blog’s first year) if I was going to review it, and ERIC, More Cowbell! Milk Stout certainly stands out from most stouts and the other 46 Milk Stouts I’ve consumed over the past few years.

The beer pours a deep black, blotting out all light and any black text on the glass (like the word “Bedford’s” on the glass in the picture). I smelled a little bit of chocolate as it poured. The beer was very cold when I first poured it but it was so good I had a tough time waiting for it to warm up, as is proper for most stouts.

The thickness of the beer was perfect, some other milk stouts I’ve had are far too thin, but this one is substantial enough that I was very pleased taking my time with it. The chocolate is not as potent, as say Terrapin’s Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout, and that is welcome. If I wanted a Moo-Hoo (which I like quite a bit) I would have bought a six pack of that beer. This beer has enough going on aside from the chocolatey sweetness to set it apart.

The lactose sugars are really nice and balance out the bitterness some stouts can have. There’s also a touch of toasted/roasted chocolate/malts at the back-end of the beer that was really welcoming. The finish lacked the bittersweet characteristics present in many stouts and milk stouts, too. In other words, I wanted to drink more and more of the beer to get to that finishing flavor. However, I slowed a bit as I noticed how much better the beer was once the temperature moved from ice cold to closer to room temperature.

I picked this up as a 16.9oz bottle and would love to give this a try on draught. This beer is well worth the $7 I plunked down (minus the NJ Craft Beer discount) considering how well made it tastes and because of the amount of beer.

SingleCut is one of the growing number of breweries in the boroughs of New York City, and this is the first one I’ve had from them but hopefully it will not be the last.

Highly Recommended, link to Untappd 4-bottle cap rating.

Untapped badge earned with this beer


Heavy Weight (Level 51)

You like it thick and dark. Your beer! What did you think we were talking about? That’s 255 different beers with the style of Porter or Stout.

Beer Review: Stone Xocoveza

Name: Xocoveza
Brewing Company: Stone Brewing Company
Location: Escondido, CA
Style: Imperial Milk Stout
ABV: 8.1%

From the beer’s description on Stone Brewing’s Web site:

There’s nothing like making a beer so beloved that people feel compelled to campaign for its return. So, in the spirit of the holiday season, we are very pleased to give our fans the number one item on their wish lists. As illustrated by the avalanche of social media requests, that is Stone Xocoveza, an insanely delicious take on Mexican hot chocolate brewed with cocoa, coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. First brewed in 2014 with San Diego homebrewer Chris Banker after his recipe won our annual homebrew competition, this imperial stout is layered with smooth roastiness, semisweet chocolate and a touch of spice. Thanks entirely to you, this creamy, mocha stout has gone from initially being a one-time offering to a yearly tradition. Happy holidays from all of us to all of you…and feel free to continue enjoying it long into the spring and summer, as this gem will age beautifully and is definitely not exclusive to the winter season!

Quick Take: A brewery known for hopped up ales brewing a stout warrants notice. When the beer is this delicious, well, it warrants more than just “notice.”

One of the giants in American Craft Brewing is Stone Brewing. If Sierra Nevada is the top of California Craft beer, then Stone is a pretty close second in terms of longevity, quality, and influence. Opened in 1996, the brewery is known for a range of hopped up IPAs and Arrogant Bastard, a beer strong enough to form its own “brewery within a brewery” known shockingly as “Arrogant Brewing.”

I’ve come to realize beers with more of a West Coast hop profile don’t always go well with my taste buds. I’m not going to rattle off the big name West Coast breweries who brew renowned beers that don’t work for me. That’s not what the Tap Takeover is about, in fact, the opposite of that. I’ve had a few from Stone and enjoyed the ones that fall in my style wheelhouse (a regular Milk Stout, Witbier, and Saison) so I was anxious to give Xocoveza a try. I like milk stouts, but that West Coast hope profile gave me a pause. On the other hand, the profile and ingredients were a very close match for the wonderful Mexican Morning Stout from Conclave Brewing. How could I not try this beer?

Once the glass is full, nothing appears to hint at the complex flavors. It looks like a beautiful, black stout. The head is a little off-white, with maybe a little bit of red giving it a color that’s slightly different from most stouts and the hint of, maybe, something special.

The aroma, though, the aroma gives the hints of the flavors to expect. Chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, even vanilla come through in a perfect balance of flavors. The lactose, which is what makes this a milk stout, adds a creaminess that helps to balance the spice from the cinnamon and later, the pepper. The end is when the peppers come through and combined with the cinnamon that still lingers, gives a nice tingly taste along the palette and even down in the belly as the beer settles.

Like many stouts, especially the higher ABV stouts, this one benefits from sitting in the glass and warming to room temperature. The tingling from the pepper and cinnamon are even more pronounced at this point and flavors explode together with more strength

Xocoveza is an outstanding, potent stout that is perfect for the cold months considering the spices infused in the beer. After homebrewer Chris Banker won the Stone competition in 2014, this beer became a seasonal release for Stone. Since I tried it this year, it will be a seasonal must buy for me.

Highly Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-star rating.

A final aside, this was the first beer I had whose bottle was graced with the Independent Craft Beer Logo (below).

Draught Diversions: O’Fallon Pumpkin Pack

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that don’t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…

Now for a seasonally appropriate review of a variety pack of pumpkin beers less than a week before Hallowe’en, the O’Fallon Pumpkin Pack.

O’Fallon Brewery, based in Missouri, has been crafting ales and lagers since 2000 including their regionally popular Pumpkin Beer. Unfortunately, only select beers of their output are distributed here in NJ, although I recall seeing their pumpkin beers last year and I did pick up a bomb of their Imperial Stout earlier in the year. Two particular beers in  this “Pumpkin Patch” pushed me to get the variety pack, the Jack O’Latte Milk Stout and Pumpkin Bread Dunkelweizen. So, how did the whole variety pack fare? Like most variety packs some beers were, of course, better than others, but not in ways that I expected. I’ll give a mini-review of each below leading up to the one I enjoyed the most.

The beer I had first was the Pumpkin Bread, as I’ve said in some posts, I really like Dunkelweizens so I’m always on the lookout for a new Dunkel to try. In the case of O’Fallon’s Pumpkin Bread, there are definitely bready elements of the Dunkelweizen but a lot of the expected finishing notes (clove/banana) are masked or altogether not present due to the pumpkin / pumpkin spice elements. As I commented on untappd, it does exactly what the label suggests, evokes the flavor profile of pumpkin bread. That said, there’s something not quite there for me. Not a bad beer, just not quite what I’d hoped.

 

Next up (and the one I tried last) was the standard Pumpkin Beer, which was a perfectly acceptable pumpkin ale. It didn’t blow me away but it didn’t leave an aftertaste like some pumpkin ales can leave. Better than many pumpkin beers I’ve had, not quite as good as a few others, and one I’d rank in the top half of the many pumpkin beers I’ve had. In other words, a pumpkin ale I’d reach for again. I can understand why this is a local favorite in the State of Missouri, this is a very drinkable ale. This would be for relaxing by a fire pit whilst enjoying a few while the night begins to cool.

 

The one that surprised me the most was Saison De Citrouille. Citrouille is French for Pumpkin, and as the name implies, this is a Saison/Farmhouse brewed with pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices. While I enjoy Saison/Farmhouse Ales, they aren’t one of my “go to” styles. Sometimes, this style can have a bitter, earthy aftertaste that I find unpleasant. On the other hand, some of the lighter Saisons I’ve had are more crisp with a bit of a fruitiness to the flavor profile. O’Fallon’s take on the style is a nice variation and melding of styles, the pumpkin spices blend really well with esters in the beer, complementing each other for a balanced, tasty beer. A perfect beer for those early fall days that still have some warm winds and sun leftover from the summer.

Last is Jack O’Latte and the beer from this variety pack I enjoyed the most. There was a time I loved pumpkin flavored coffee and would have it every day once the leaves started changing. Since the Pumpkin Spice overkill began a few years ago (coupled with Dunkin Donuts drastically altering its flavorings), I slowed that roll and mostly drink dark roast coffee. Anyway, back to this beer… Jack O’Latte does everything right with those flavors: a stout sweetened with lactose, further enhanced with pumpkin / pumpkin pie spices for a beer that makes you want more. If this were available in 6-packs, I would make sure to pick up a pack every fall. In the end, isn’t that what a brewery tried to do with the beer it produces?

The final verdict: The O’Fallon Pumpkin Pack is worth trying if you enjoy pumpkin beers and are looking to sample a variety of styles with pumpkin/pumpkin spice flavors. Each beer is good with the Saison De Citrouille and Jack O’Latte very good. I it is impressive, on the whole, how well O’Fallon blends the pumpkin flavors into a variety of typically non-pumpkin styles.

Beer Review: Saugatuck Brewing Blueberry Maple Stout

Name: Blueberry Maple Stout
Brewing Company: Saugatuck Brewing Co.
Location: Douglas, Michigan
Style: Milk Stout
ABV: 6%

 

From the beer’s description on Saugatuck Brewing Company’s Web site:

A rich, sweet stout with classic malt characteristics with a bold, unique twist. This beer tastes like you crammed a fat stack of blueberry pancakes into a pint glass and smothered it with maple syrup. Channel your inner lumberjack, because it’s in for a real treat.

Sometimes a beer grabs you because of its name, because of how that name is translated into the taste of the beer and because that beer is off the beaten path. Such is the case with Saugatuck’s Blueberry Maple Stout.

Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Stouts allow for a great variation of flavor enhancements and beers with syrup flavoring are not uncommon. Founders, another Michigan brewery, has a few that are even aged in Syrup barrels. I’ve had a few beers with syrup as a flavor enhancement/component, usually stouts and sometimes porters, but there’s something even more “enhanced” about this one, from what is touted to be a complex flavor profile.

The beer pours very black, but is not quite as thick as other stouts. There’s blueberry on the nose and that’s the first taste to hit my taste buds when I sip the beer. I’ve had my share of beers with blueberry in them, usually wheat based ales and naturally some were better than others, but I can’t quite recall having a stout with blueberries before this one.

It works pretty well. I suppose the closest comparison would be chocolate covered blueberries for the richness of the stout. With the blueberries upfront, the beer finishes with the maple sweetness. It makes for a good combination and an interesting flavor profile overall. The maple is overpowered by the blueberries, at least for me. Sure the maple is present, but it doesn’t assert itself to the extent that the blueberries do up front and throughout the whole beer.

Like a lot of stouts, this one benefits a great deal from warming up to room temperature. The flavors just become even more prevalent. Although I liked the first beer from the six pack I had, I think I enjoyed the second and third days later even more. I wasn’t sure if I would even want to finish the whole six pack, to be honest. By the third or fourth beer, I began to enjoy the beer more. Sometimes with a six pack I’ve never had, the remaining beers will sit in the fridge for months on end as I avoid drinking the beer, not so with this one. I found it to be a nice dessert beer, largely because for me, the tastes and flavor profile are complex enough that I think it would stand better on its own. I’m not sure why, maybe because I didn’t initially know what to expect with the first beer and my taste buds “knew” what to expect on second consumption and could enjoy the beer more. Regardless, this is an interesting, tasty beer.

 

Recommended, link to Untappd 3.75-star rating.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

So Udderly Sweet (Level 8)

Wouldn’t it be nice if milk stouts came directly from beer producing cows? While this unfortunately isn’t the case (yet) they do have a full body and sweetness due to a larger amount of lactose and sugars. 

Beer Review: Firestone Walker Nitro Merlin

Name: Nitro Merlin
Brewing Company: Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Style: Milk Stout
ABV: 5.5%
Drank at: Revolution: A Social Brew House in Morristown, NJ

FW_NitroMerlin
From the beer’s description on Firestone Walker’s Web site:

 

Our Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout has been transformed into a mindblowing mouthful known as Nitro Merlin Milk Stout.

The new ingredient is lactose, a.k.a. milk sugar. When Velvet Merlin is brewed with milk sugar to create Nitro Merlin Milk Stout, the effect is similar to adding cream to your dark roasted coffee. The wizardry comes via “nitro,” the brewing nickname for nitrogen gas.

Exclusively on draft.

You take the sweetness of a Milk Stout, add Nitrogen to it and you have a smooth, sweet, velvety delectable beer drinking experience. Stouts are one of my favorite styles and milk stouts possibly my favorite variety of the style. I’d been wanting to try this one for a while, but with it being a draft-only beer, finding it was a bit of a challenge but find it I did. In every way imaginable, the beer exceeded my expectations.

Prior to enjoying this beer, I had and enjoyed many bottles of Firestone Walker’s Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout. The fine folks at Firestone Walker took an already wonderful base and embellished it to create one of the best Milk Stouts I’ve ever had. Some Milk Stouts have an underlying bitterness that takes over at the finish of the beer, not this one.

From the first sip of the freshly poured beer with its thick white head to the final sip, Nitro Merlin is a nearly perfect Milk Stout. A comforting mouthfeel is complemented with the sweet underlying roasty taste of coffee and hints of chocolate throughout.

As the description implies, the nitro injection adds a wonderful creamy, fluffiness to the beer that makes for a sumptuous beer drinking experience. Some Nitro beers are too airy or fluffy with that nitro injection drowning out the taste. Perhaps it is because those beers are bottled and not on draught, which always makes a difference. No matter how you pour it, Nitro Merlin is perfectly balanced in texture.

As both a Nitro Stout amd Milk Stout, many, if not all, others will be judged. If you see this one become available at a bar you haunt, do yourself a favor and head over to that bar and have a pint…or two.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4.5-star rating.