Bristol Beer Factory: Vanilla Milk Stout (England: Sweet Stout: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black. Quite the fizzy hazelnut brown head which is small and quickly diminishing.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Quite fresh lactose character. Really rich. Toffee. Slight thick cream. Milky chocolate.

Body: Caramel and vanilla. Milky coffee.   Moderate bitterness. Toffee. Slight sherbet lemon and a hint of fizz to the texture. Only a hint mind you. Some nuttiness and milk chocolate.

Finish: Milky coffee. Bitter. Vanilla and toffee pavlova. Roasted nuts.

Conclusion: If there was one thing Bristol beer Factory does well, its stouts.  Thankfully they do a lot of things well, but still, especially stouts.  Unlike a lot of the craft scene they really excel in the full range of stouts, not just the Imperial Stouts which usually get the most attention.  This is a good honest sweet stout, the slightly more unusual end of the stout scale.

This variant on the already excellent milk stout makes full use of the vanilla to slightly sweeten it and bring out the toffee and caramel notes. This makes an already impressive and easy to drink milk stout much more rounded.

Some will find that it’s ratcheting the sweetness up a bit far for their tastes. Me, I’m loving the extra umph it brings, and there is a good solid bitter and roasted nuts holding at the back. Present but not intruding.

To find flaws, and thus not gush embarrassingly, the texture is a tad fizzy at time when a smoother play would work better. Also as referenced before it is maybe a tad sweet, but this is Yahtzee Croshaw level nitpicking here. A more likely flaw seems to be that the twelve stouts of Christmas is going to make me look very long and hard at what exactly goes on the “My favourite” tag, as if it keeps up this way the list may end up a tad stout heavy and I have tried so hard to keep a good balance of styles.

The twelve stouts are off top very good start with this great sweet session stout.

Background: One of the twelve stouts of Christmas released by Bristol Beer Factory. While I have tried their Milk Stout and Ultimate Stout before, this is the first of the new beers from the pack I have tried. As is evident from the name it is a tweaked version of the highly rated milk stout, having added, yes vanilla into the mix.  Frankly, stouts tend to be where BBF excels so I was looking forwards to this.