Tag Archive: Sweet Stout

Naylor’s: Martha’s Chocolate Milk Stout (England: Sweet Stout: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Black to very dark brown at the edges. Small grey brown dash of a head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Chalky. Light smoke. Bitter coffee beans. Liquorice touch. Cola bottles.

Body: Light lactose. Blackcurrant sour sweets. Sour dough. Malt loaf. Raisins. Malt chocolate. Blueberry. Roasted nuts. Cola bottles.

Finish: Blackcurrant sweets. Blueberry. Light charring. Light smoke. Vinegar crisps (minus the salt) Light apples. Lactose. Milky coffee. Roasted.

Conclusion: You know, for a chocolate milk stout, this really runs a lot of sweet dark fruit notes in its flavour mix. There is some chocolate in there – working as a smooth backing to the rest of the beer – but there is far less than its name would suggest.

So, ignoring the expectations that the name brings, is this any good? Well, it is not bad – it has that light sour touch I would associate with a good quality bitter and the roasted nuttiness I would expect of a standard stout. Added to that is the touch of lactose feel that a milk stout brings – so we have the expected notes, the less common but not unusual notes, then the kind of unusual influence of the light sour bitter notes. That light sour character mixes well with the dark fruit that I mentioned before to create a mild sour-sweet set of notes that give refreshing flavours, but also a slightly thinner mouthfeel.

So it is slightly unusual in style, but kind of middle of the road in flavour quality. It is definitely not bad but the unusual elements seem to neither enhance nor detract from the beer – they are just there as a different way of doing things. The light sour touch is refreshing, and the fruit notes are a nice touch, but a lot of the stout notes are just a mild backing until we reach the more roasted finish.

It really doesn’t sell the imagery the name promises and ends up a beer that feels like a mix of a quarter bitter, one quarter stout, half milk stout – interesting but not more than the sum of its parts.

An ok pint, but not really one that I can be too enthusiastic about recommending.

Background: This was the third of three beers that my parents gave to me when they came down to visit. Many thanks! If you have been paying attention, and wonder what happened to notes on the second one. I just drank it. No notes. I am the worst of monsters. It was pretty good. Anyway, been a while since I had a Naylor beer, if I remember rightly I quite enjoyed their barley wine on cask when I was up in Manchester. That was a while back. Anyway, drank this with some Meshuggah – Obzen! I could give some convoluted reason, but I was just feeling a bit shitty and wanted some super heavy music to listen to. It was awesome. For some reason I imagine Superman drinking this beer, comments on it, and suddenly Batman bursts in and goes “MARTHA! Why did you say that name? WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?” Because I am a geek.

Weird Beard Le Debauche Pankot Palace

Weird Beard: Le Debauche: Pankot Palace (England: Sweet Stout: 5.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Moderate brown froth head that raises easily on a swirl.

Nose: Massive spice – Herbs, paprika, turmeric and the like.

Body: Spicy. Cinnamon. Chives. Lightly milky coffee. Dried lemons. Bombay mix. Lactose. Strawberry. Tea.

Finish: Lemon sorbet. Pepper. Spice. Salted lemon. Tea. Chives.

Conclusion: Wow. Much spice. Much smoothness. Much mixed. Now, I’m not an expert on Masala Chai, but I have an odd feeling a lot of my notes above could be summed up by just the words “Masala Chai” if I was.

This is very spice dominated, but in a soothing way, not a hot one. There are a lot of greenery notes, light pepper and a dried lemon freshness and sweetness. Also, I googled after drinking and found out Masala Chai is tea based. I am not surprised – while the base milk stout has a milky coffee note the overall beer more shouts tannins, teabags and tea.

Normally this much spice would put me off – It dominates the beer, hiding nearly of the base below. However here it makes the beer just so soothing – like a nightcap mix of a herbal tea and a porter. Ok a herbal tea and a milk stout here, but what you can taste of the base beer is kind of porterish. Anyway, it is all mashed into one gentle, sleep inducing, beer.

It really concentrates on doing one thing and doing it well -in this case using the spice, As of such I cannot see myself having it often, but as an occasional burst of soothing and unusual it is lovely.

Background: A Masala Chai Milk Stout, or so the bottle says. I mainly grabbed this from Indepedent Spirit as the bottle looks awesome, I have never tried Masala Chai so had no idea what to expect. This was made with 10 KG of Assam tea and bags of mixed garam masala. Well, the batch was, I presume not just this one bottle. So, yeah, took a chance on this one. Hope it works out.

Brewdog Prototype Milk Stout

Brewdog: Prototype: Milk Stout (AKA Jet Black Heart) (Scotland: Sweet Stout: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin tight bubbled brown head.

Nose: Roasted and nutty. Sour dough and chives.

Body: Quite bitter. Nutty. Slightly thin middle. Bubblegum. Sour dough. Quite roasted. Lactose. Milky chocolate.

Finish: Lemongrass. Slight empty area. Roasted. Light bitterness.

Conclusion: So, the winnah, the victorious prototype entry. Before I even had the first drop of this pass my lips it had already been declared the greatest of this year’s prototypes. So, do I agree?

Well at its base it is a fairly standard milk stout. Some milky chocolate, slightly light at times. It is however more roasted than most milk stouts I have encountered, and gives a more bitter character as well – with the sour dough touch it feels closer to a more standard stout and with the higher bitterness it is closer to Brewdog’s standard style.

The main twist seems to come from what I presume to be the Sorachi Ace influence; A slightly bubblegum main body and lemongrass in the finish. Not a huge part, it mainly comes out when the body is thinner, but it does help accentuate the more cloying sour dough moments as well.

It is, well, fairly standard – It doesn’t do much different to the already existing wide range of milk stouts on the market. The little twists don’t really rise it out of the pack and occasional thinner moments do hurt it.

For me it is the weakest of the prototypes this year. As always it seems I have my finger on the pulse of the craft beer community.

Background: This has a new name already. It was declared an early winner of the prototype vote so is now called “Jet Black Heart”. Anyway, the fourth beer of the prototype set, a milk stout made with sorachi ace hops amongst other things. Big fan of Sorachi Ace so this interested me. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Drunk while listening to pandemoniumfromamerica by Buckethead, Viggo Mortensen and co. A weird but relaxing set of tunes.

Steamworks Oatmeal Stout

Steamworks: Oatmeal Stout (Canada: Sweet Stout: 5% ABV)

Visual: Black with red hints at edges. A cm of caramel to brown tinted frothy bubbled head. Some suds.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Mint leaves. Bitter coffee. Milky. Slight charring. Slight sour dough notes when at room temperature.

Body: Muesli. Milky coffee. Light pepper and spice. Dried sultanas. Bitter chocolate. Oatmeal.

Finish: Charred touch. Coffee granules. Chocolate milkshake.

Conclusion: Now, the beer is still cool as I write this, so this is a work in progress set of notes, but this beer does feel slightly thin. Very surprising for an oatmeal stout. At 5% abv it isn’t super heavy, but not so light that I would expect it to hit the mouthfeel.

Maybe I am wrong, maybe the relatively modest abv for a oatmeal stout does hit it, I am used to relatively lighter abv stouts in cask, so maybe from keg they need a higher abv to deliver the best mouthfeel. Maybe.

Anyway, flavour wise it is kind of a milky coffee drenched bowl of muesli. For those of you who don’t regularly eat such things for breakfast – it gives a nicely workable contrast.

As it warms the texture doesn’t really thicken, but the flavours do rise out of it to cover that up nicely. It becomes kind of coffee meets chocolate milkshake. Over muesli.

That analogy now feels slightly convoluted

Warm it does work better, slight overly charred but it lays down its main flavour nicely. It doesn’t really rock the style, it needs that bit more grip, but the chocoffee muesli breakfast thing isn’t exactly a common interpretation so it is doing its own thing.

Id say it is on the weaker end of the style – a pity as with more fortitude I think the main conceit would have legs. Ah well.

Background: Oh, and 30 IBUs. This is the final Canada tasting note. Well the final from Canada itself, I brought back two bottles. One a USA Enjoy After IPA, which is best part of a year away from drinking, and a Canadian Double IPA which I will have notes up on soon. People had been recommending Steamworks to me the entire trip, right from Calgary onwards, so when I was in Vancouver I decided to visit their brewpub and give it a shot. I also tried an awesome Sockeye Salmon burger there, I didn’t even know people made Salmon Burgers. Very nice indeed.  Also I tried their gose, just because I am still getting used to the style – it was very salty and yet creamy, as odd as most goses are, but slightly fuller bodied – feeling slightly lactose like. Very thirst quenching but a bit overly salty even for the style for me.

Steamworks Brewing

Wild Beer Co Millionaire

Wild Beer Co: Millionaire (England: Sweet Stout: 4.7 % ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin grey brown head that does not last long.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Light smoke. Toffee. Shortbread.

Body: Molasses. Toffee. Light salt touch. Sour cream and chives. Coffee. Bitter cocoa powder. Peanut butter.

Finish: Bitter yet milky coffee. Salted caramel. Cocoa powder. Peanut butter. Lactose.

Conclusion: This tastes like what Yankee Sandwich wanted to be to me. Odd, as best I know it doesn’t actually have peanuts in, yet still has a decent punch of peanut like flavour mixed in with the stout base.

Even better this has the extras which Yankee Sandwich lacked, all those little elements to round out a beer – real sweet molasses like chocolate, a mix of other sweet notes and a salted touch to ground it. More so than the elements in the base of the beer, it works with the aroma to give a roasted and sour dough character which calls more to a more traditional stout, elements which will influence the rest of your experience with the beer. It takes a similar path as Yankee, but branches out more, revealing a more detailed pattern to enjoy.

It has more contrasting elements, more bitter chocolate, more salted character, some smoke – at no point to they become the main elements and so it is still a very sweet base. Very much the main points are the expected caramel, and the unexpected peanut butter, but the dark chocolate elements with that bitterness makes it more satisfying – leading to me pondering the idea that this is like peanut butter cups made with dark Belgian chocolate -a delicious heresy I’m sure you will agree.

So, overall a very satisfying beer. Polished, maybe not uber polished like some stouts, but with a unique take and complex enough, while coming in at a non insane abv. That makes it a very easy beer to recommend and I would say grab it if you can.

Background: Wild Beer Co are really turning out beers at a rate of knots at the moment, I am having a hard time keeping up with the bottled releases, let a one the multitude of keg and cask only releases. Anyway, this release is a sweet stout made with caramel, cocoa nibs, sea salt and lactose. Rate beer is currently listing it as a stout, but I think sweet stout is a better match. Drunk, again, while listening to Arch Enemy: War Eternal. This was grabbed, as ever, from independent spirit.

Stone Coffee Milk Stout

Stone: Coffee Milk Stout (USA: Sweet Stout: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Black still body. Moderate coffee froth coloured head.

Nose: Milky coffee and roasted nuts. Lactose.

Body: Bitter cocoa and chocolate. Roasted coffee bitterness. Hazelnut. Slight chalk feel. Lactose. Slight sour dough touch. Heavy roasted character.

Finish: Roasted touch. Bitter coffee. Bitter chocolate. Sour dough touch.

Conclusion: This is a shockingly traditional interpretation of a style for a beer from Stone. Not what you would expect from them at all. Maybe that is the twist. Anyway, traditional is neither good nor bad in itself, here it is only unusual. So let us look deeper.

So, a heavily roasted feel and taste, slight sour dough undertones. While I say it is traditional, it is more a traditional standard stout than a sweet stout. The level of bitterness especially means that it is not as sweet as many of the style, or even what you would expect from the style’s name. It lays on a huge cocoa and coffee feel which is the mainstay of the beer. Lactose? yes there is a definite lactose touch to it, as you would expect from a milk stout – you don’t get it so much in the coffee, which is very robust,but it is there. In fact, like Beer Weak Brunch Weasel, the coffee is very robust and rounded, though here I would say it is more within the standard expected variation.

Oft the mouth feel is a bit lighter than expect – looking at Stone’s description it seems this is an expected feature – but even for a sweet stout this does not seem super dense. With the rougher flavours the base body seems to give way a bit too easily to reveal the rougher character underneath.

Overall it is ok, but does neither the sweetness the milk stout is known for, or the out there character expected from a Stone beer. Again, looking at the description this is expected behaviour from their point of view, but it doesn’t seem to have quite enough to stand out for me. It definitely isn’t bad, the best way to describe it, I would say, is that it is like the craft beer coffee stout obsession has come together here to create a comparatively low abv traditional stout with a bit of extra umph.

So, a decent stout, but not really anything stand out in the style.

Background: Stone have pretty good hit rate with me, though they are probably better known for their hop hits. Anyway, grabbed this from Brewdog’s guest beer section. Erm, not much to say, been playing a pretty hard shooter platformer called Bleed before this, pretty cool in a Gunstar Heroes kind of way once you get used to the twin stick and buttons controls.

Wild Beer Co Yankee Sandwich

Wild Beer Co: Yankee Sandwich (England: Sweet Stout: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown black. Minimal toffee coloured suds around the edge of the glass.

Nose: Roasted – both standard and dry roasted peanuts style. Lactose. treacle.

Body: Nutty. Peanut butter. Milk and lactose. Sugared almonds. Brittle nut toffee. Slight sour dough. Light milky chocolate.

Finish: Peanuts and peanut butter. Lactose. Light bitter cocoa.

Conclusion: There is only so much a beer can live up to hype. Odd words after my last review, but roll with it, ok. Please. This is more a hype of the moment – my local store went batshit for this. Sold out in two days. That creates a certain level of expectations. Cracking open the bottle felt like opening the ark of the covenant. Or so it should be by crowd reaction.

So, how is it?

Well, it is very much a milk stout that taste of peanut butter. That may seem to be stating the obvious, but it is amazing how may beers mess up their raison d’etre. This lives up to its claims at the very minimum.

The main flavour seems to be, ach, I’m struggling for a word here – you know that brittle nut infused toffee. You smack it with a hammer to break it up. then eat it. This taste a lot like that, it has that mix of sweet and nutty, and that hard to place fragile texture. Around that is the milk stout backing, it shows itself more in feel and general impression than many specific flavours – the chocolate bitterness and lactose are there, yes, but it feels like it is more pushing out and making space for the peanut and toffee main character.

The main actual contrast flavour wise is a sour dough touch – huh, sour dough, peanut butter – guess they did make a sandwich, no?

So, yes it is very peanut butter, and it is tasty – but not really up to the fan reaction levels as a beer. It does it’s job well, tastes peanut butter, feels peanut butter, backed by milk stout – but not massively doing much beyond that.

Still, it is a fun wee one, but more that – fun – than anything else. Worse things to be though.

Background: This was a popular one, I barely managed to get a bottle from – Independent Spirit! I do like the Wild Beer co, not everything works, but they are more constantly innovative than any other brewery in England at the moment. This is a comparatively simple twist, a milk stout made with peanuts – but it seems to have caught the public’s imagination. As a thanks to Chris of Independence Spirit, today’s *ahem* oddity of the light in the photo is chosen as I think it is one he will appreciate.

By Udder Means

To Øl: By Udder Means (Denmark: Sweet Stout: 7% ABV)

Visual: Black. Large inch of creamy chocolate ice cream head.

Nose: Rich milky chocolate. Dry roasted peanuts. Cloying cream cheese and sourdough. Lactose. Cashews. Grapes.

Body: Rough feel. Charring. Lactose. Slightly sour blueberries. Milky chocolate. Feels smoother over time. Gin and juniper. White juicy grapes.

Finish: Bitterness. Rough hop feel. Charring. Blueberry pie. Bitter chocolate. Cashew and hazelnuts. Choc orange. Gin touch. Elderberry. Touch of green leaves.

Conclusion: I may have started this one when it was just a touch over chilled methinks. Initially it felt a bit over harsh, charred and bitter edge filled. I wasn’t getting much complexity mid body and the harsh texture seemed to work against the beer’s stated intent.

Let me say up front, the beer that I finally experienced is not that beer I got at the start. No, no, when you get it just right, just slightly chilled, well then you get something a bit different.

So, where to start?

Well the main body is milky chocolate, initially a tad trough but smoothes over time to a very nice texture. The flavour has traditional stout roasted nuts and sour dough as well. Nothing too abnormal.

Then you get the good stuff. Behind a solid milk stout you get juniper, gin, and juicy grapes. It is like a (very subtle) beer cocktail in itself. Nowhere do you get a spirit feel, but there are a lot of flavours that I would associate with those delicious crafted cocktail concoctions. By which I mean the well made cocktails, not the get pissed for a fiver variety.

It really is a milk stout cocktail, lots of lactose, some coffee and all marked by berries and greenery. Thankfully it is also quite lovely, and I don’t know how they do it. A fruity full milk stout. Never thought I would see the day.

I very much approve. To the cocktail beer of joy!

Background: According to rate beer’s translation of the commercial description this beer is the result of wanting a thick textured stout with a low abv. Erm, guys, 7% is not low abv. Seriously. Anyway, this was picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer section. Again. I mainly bought it because the name made me laugh.

Wiper and True Milk Shake Stout

Wiper and True: Stout: Milk Shake (England: Sweet Stout: 5.1% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Needs a good pour to bring up a coffee to ash coloured thin head.

Nose: Charring. Roasted character. Bitter. Milky, yet bitter chocolate mix. Vanilla and cream.

Body: Smooth. Sugared almonds. Treacle. Chocolate liquore. Roasted nuts. Black cherry. Cadbury’s cream eggs. Toffee.

Finish: Chocolate liquore. Vanilla and caramel. Black cherry. Cream. Bitter chocolate dust.

Conclusion: I think I need to ignore the milk shake name when doing this review. No, not quite ignore, there are chocolate milkshake elements. I just need to manage my expectations, that is all. It is a milk stout, it isn’t going to have that super thick milk shake like texture that the bigger beers can bring.

What it does bring is a slightly thin treacle and chocolate liquore feel that meets an actual chocolate and vanilla cream filled milkshake flavour. It has the taste at times, just not the feel. It is head scratching on how the two elements can stand side by side. The thin, treacle, more traditional milk stout elements are not bad, but alongside the bigger condensed cream and chocolate elements you cannot help but be a bit dissatisfied when they come out. They are by far the weaker side.

This review has been a bit of a downer so far, for a beer that, even at its low points, is still a solid milk stout. So, let’s try to remedy that by looking more at the positive points.

It has elements of very old school roasted stouts in the aroma, and a very good lactose take to the sweet end of the beer that tastes very milkshake, even when it doesn’t feel it. This mix of tradition and new style does show a balanced interpretation of the beer.

Overall it is a good milk stout, the weird thin treacle may let it down, but in general it is a beer that does the job.

Background: See that label. Fairly eye catching eh? Could recognize it at a distance? That seems to be the label for every damn stout Wiper and True do. Now I am a fan of their beers, but it is really hard to see what is new at a glance. Shoot, with the text on the side and small it is actually slightly harder than recognizing The Kernels brown paper bag style labels. At least each beer style has a different picture, so it is just the exact beer name that is hard to discern. Anyway, rant over, this is my first bottle review of a Wiper and True and was picked up from Independent Spirit of Bath. Again.


Bristol Beer Factory: Crème Brulee (England: Sweet Stout: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Dust of toffee froth head that leaves suds.

Nose: Milky chocolate and bitterness. Crushed hazelnuts. Caramelised sugar and custard. Fortified wine. Glacier cherries. Rich and vinous.

Body: Sweet. Cherries and chocolate. Fruitcake. Almonds. Vinous. Dessert wine. Yes, ok, crème brulee, kind of. Bubble gum. Orange crème. Lactose.

Finish: Marzipan and cherries. Bitter chocolate. Raspberry yogurt. Caramelised brown sugar. Bubblegum again. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion:  Definitely the biggest of the BBF stouts of Christmas I’ve had from the 2012 pack so far. Initially chilled it seemed to be very vinous, almost more strong English Ale than stout in flavours. There was sweet dessert wine, fruitcake and cherries and to my shock actual crème brulee like hints all in a mix. Very sweet very vinous.

I gave it a bit of drinking and a bit of warmth and the expected stout flavours built  up into roasted, chocolate and bitter coffee, taking the fore and pushing the previous elements to the side to add rather than dominate.  Very much the lactose filled milk stout with sweet touches added. The base stout flavours proved too strong to be suppressed for long.

Every more oddities came with bubblegum adding to the mix – tasting like J-pop tune sounds, however never interfering with the main flavours. There is never dull moment with this beer and always something new fizzing and popping to the surface.

So a good base stout, great range and a mix of vinous and English ale flavours in with it. So, it’s great right? Erm. Well. It is very good, but not quite great. The flavours don’t quite mesh at times. Like the better Doggie Claws this beer feels a bit too mixed up. It is always open to drinking and examination but has no one coherent whole to latch onto.

it is a great fun ride and there is something interesting in every moment don’t get me wrong. A beer that is very much of each moment you drink it.  Well worth it and a distinct experience that should be tried.  The only flaw it has is that it does not manage to be more than the sum of its parts, but that it a small flaw indeed.

Background: Bloody hell an 8.5% ABV sweet stout, pretty heavy for a style that tends towards a lighter end of the scale. This is based on the milk stout and was aged in Rum casks for two months. Part of BBF’s 12 Stouts of Christmas 2012 which is quickly becoming a mini seasonal celebration. I’m a big fan of BBF’s stouts and like their other beers to boot.

%d bloggers like this: