Late last year, Left Hand Brewing Company introduced Bittersweet Coffee Milk Stout, brewing the perfect blend of stout and coffee in a limited time offering. Offered in 22oz and draft, Bittersweet brings together Left Hand’s iconic, nationally-renown Milk Stout with Allegro Coffee’s Mocha Java Blend, for a truly Colorado craft pairing.
At 8.9% ABV, Bittersweet is a big stout with an aggressive boost, charging the beer with over 700 pounds of Allegro Coffee. The dark cherry flavors and spicy undertones of the coffee weave into the rich milky sweet stout like a chocolate-covered espresso bean melting on your tongue. The imperial coffee milk stout is the perfect blend of creamy java and roast notes – a beer and coffee lover’s dream come true. Bittersweet is available in limited quantities for winter 2015, distributed throughout Left Hand’s 35 state footprint.*
When these two coffees were first blended centuries ago, they were undoubtedly much different than what’s grown in Yemen and Indonesia today. Yet this combination of rich Mocha coffee from Arabia, tempered with estate-grown Java, remains a popular blend around the world. And it’s easy to see why when you taste the bittersweet chocolate flavor.
In fact, the word “mocha” became associated with chocolate because Europeans’ first experiences with cocoa, in the 17th century, reminded them of the bittersweet coffee they imported from Yemen.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Bittersweet Coffee Milk Stout, from Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont, Colorado. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Yemen // Indonesia
cultivars: Mocha // Java
style: Imperial Coffee Milk Stout
alcohol by volume: 8.9%
international bitterness units: 54
ingredients: Pale 2-row, Crystal, Munich, Chocolate, Carafa III special, Kiln Coffee, Rolled Oats, Flaked Barley, Zeus, Goldings, Coffee
The beer pours into my snifter a deep black, and is topped by a one-finger thick tan-colored head. It has pretty poor retention and there’s not much in the way of lacing, either.
Roasted coffee notes hit my nose most immediately, but the milk stout base brings sweet scents of milk chocolate, cream, and vanilla. I’m also detecting the presence of brown sugar and candied nuts.
The flavor follows the nose, and its moniker is definitely apropos of its profile – this is a very bittersweet beer, with emphasis on the sweet. It’s a pretty full-bodied beer – even denser than its original milk stout base, though I think it would benefit from the nitro infusion its base beer receives. The first few sips of the beer are loaded with flavors of milk chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and lactate sweetness; and, of course, there are the roasted malts and dark bread that are typical of this style. As the beer warms, the cold brew really comes through, and now I’m tasting that coffee bitterness; it’s not just roast, though – I’m also tasting the coffee’s dark berry and citrus nuances.
I really liked this one. It’s a straightforward beer and pretty standard for the style; but it’s really tasty and it delivers on its promise – it is a bittersweet coffee milk stout. It hit on all of the notes. The coffee is displayed well, and the base milk stout holds its own nicely.
Left Hand Brewing’s Bittersweet Coffee Milk Stout doesn’t quite reach greatness, but it’s a worthy brew regardless and one that I recommend.
*content provided by Left Hand Brewing Company
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.