IPA lovers are legion, but stouts tend to generate fierce loyalty, too. And within the community of diehard dark beer drinkers, few brewers are as revered as Left Hand Brewing Co. Left Hand’s Milk Stout stands as one of the most beloved American-made stouts, and the brewer was one of the first in the US to perfect canned nitro beers when it introduced that iteration of its Milk Stout. Those two beers have earned 94 and a 95 on Ratebeer, respectively, and we at October are pretty big fans of the nitro version, too.
So, why would anyone mess with this stout supreme? In 2019, Left Hand evidently dreamt up a reason: raspberries.
Appearance and Aroma
The latest seasonal adaptation of Left Hand’s Milk Stout may have a brighter, pinker can, but the beer’s appearance resembles that of its predecessor. Raspberry Milk Stout pours black-black with a big head that almost clings to the rest of the beer like whipped cream. Stare at this appealing top long enough and you can almost convince yourself it has the slightest raspberry hue. Take the first whiff with your eyes closed and you will absolutely believe raspberry Coke awaits.
It’s clear Left Hand’s flavor imagination is as robust as its execution.”
I imagine Left Hand’s original Milk Stout wins over a lot of fans for its insane approachability: low ABV, light mouthfeel, and the creaminess of lactose mellowing out any heavier stout tones that may turn off others. Raspberry Milk Stout has that same overall easiness, but instead of leading with pseudo-chocolate milk, the initial taste here is raspberry milk (which, it turns out, is delicious). The lactose mellows out the tartness of the fruit in the same way it tames the core stout, resulting in a smooth and sweet first sip. The chocolate and coffee aspects of the original only arrive in the aftertaste, and they pair well overall with the raspberry even if they take a noticeable backseat in this rendition.
With its oddly alluring combination of acidity and milkiness, Left Hand’s Raspberry Milk Stout may not necessarily pair well with others over the course of a multiple-drink night. But when approached with a clean palate, it’s clear Left Hand’s flavor imagination is as robust as its execution. Who knows where the idea first came from (someone who loved those Creme Savers candies with a morning coffee?), but the fact that this beer works well probably only adds to the growing legend around Left Hand Milk Stout. In the future, there will inevitably be nights where I reach for raspberry first—even if nitro and original are nearby.