St. Louis-based 4 Hands Brewing Co. capitalizes on childhood nostalgia with its milky sweet Chocolate Milk Stout, using pounds of cacao nibs to create an adult version of the lunch room staple. The beer mimics the sugary classic with tons of chocolate flavor, but dials back the sweetness and provides balance with roasted malt and bitter chocolate notes layered throughout.
While Chocolate Milk Stout’s can pays homage to the cafeteria milk cartons from elementary school, the beer itself is much darker than your average chocolate milk. In fact, it pours totally opaque and nearly black, with only the very edges showing the true color of rich dark brown. A frothy deep tan head builds fast but fades away just as quickly, leaving only faint remnants clinging to the outside of the glass.
The aroma is clean and sweet with no hops cutting through. It smells remarkably like a Tootsie Roll with notes of sugar, milk, and cocoa powder. The chocolate candy aroma dominates, but a faint hint of roasty malt provides a bit of dryness and a reminder that this is a beer after all.
For a beer that is dominated by one flavor, it manages to stay interesting by coaxing multiple notes out of its key ingredient.”
The initial taste floods the mouth with chocolate. Notes of sweet milk chocolate, bitter dark chocolate, and nutty chocolate malt combine to make one flavor feel like more. Milky sweetness can often overwhelm a good milk stout, but 4 Hands’ heavy use of cacao nibs provides some bitter and roasty balance. Chocolate Milk Stout is light-bodied, bordering on thin, while prickly carbonation cleans up the end of each sip to leave a sweet but pleasing aftertaste.
Milk, chocolate, and beer might not sound like a great match, but 4 Hands combines them with success. The resulting Chocolate Milk Stout leans toward the sweeter side of things, but it features enough balance to remain drinkable. For a beer that is dominated by one flavor, it manages to stay interesting by coaxing multiple notes out of its key ingredient. Turns out chocolate milk isn’t just for kids.