Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout

Left Hand Brewing’s lead brewer Tanner Cobb (from left to right), head brewer Adam Lawrence and brewer Adam Cranford just finish pouring their famous Milk Stout beer before toasting each other at their facility in Longmont, CO.
Story by Kortny Rolston-Duce and photography by Kort Duce, Colorado Exposure

Just like clothes, shoes, and home décor, styles of beer experience bouts of popularity.

For example, IPAs – or India Pale Ales – have dominated taprooms and beer aisles for the past several years.  This hoppy-style pale ale, which originated in Britain more than 200 years ago, has consistently topped Craft Beer & Brewing’s annual list of favorite styles of beer.

But there are some craft beers that defy trends and retain a strong following even as customer tastes change and new favorites emerge.  For Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, that stalwart is its Milk Stout.

“It is by far our most popular beer,” said Adam Lawrence, the head brewer at Left Hand.

He attributes Milk Stout’s popularity to its creamy, smooth texture. Stouts are thick, darker beers made from roasted malt or barley.  They can be daunting for those accustomed to lighter styles.  Adding milk sugar to stouts makes them more approachable, Lawrence said.

“The lactose or milk sugar sweetens (our Milk Stout) and makes it creamier,” he said. “Milk stouts are a good way for many people to start exploring darker beers and stouts.”

On its website, Left Hand describes the combination this way, “Milk sugar in your stout is like cream in your coffee. Just enough sweetness to keep the dark roast in check. Rich and robust, our classic Milk Stout exhibits notes of dark chocolate, freshly brewed coffee, caramelized sugar and roasted malt.”

“It is by far our most popular beer,” said Adam Lawrence, the head brewer at Left Hand, about their Milk Stout

Milk Stout has gained a wide following and won more than 35 awards at national and international competitions, including the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival.

It routinely is named one of the best milk stouts and recommended by those writing about beer.  For example, in a 2017 article, Food & Wine touted Left Hand’s Milk Stout, saying “If you’re interested in milk stouts, this beer is your jumping-off point.”

Things to know about Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout beer:

  • Left Hand introduced its Milk Stout in 1999, six years after the brewery opened in Longmont.
  • About 50 percent of the beer Left Hand brews each year is Milk Stout.  Lawrence estimates his team will brew about 30,000 barrels of Milk Stout in 2021.
  • The idea for Milk Stout was inspired by a trip to Tanzania. Dick Doore, one of Left Hand’s founders, had just finished climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Needing a beer, he spotted a small bar flashing a “beer” sign. He tasted a Milk Stout for the first time and was hooked! His subsequent recipe testing at Left Hand helped bring a style of beer that was never really popular in the US to a now staple category in stouts.
  • A decade ago, Left Hand changed the craft beer industry when it introduced Milk Stout Nitro in a bottle on the first night of the Great American Beer Festival.  It was the first craft brewery to master bottling a nitrogen beer without the use of a widget.  In 2017, Left Hand made history again with the first production run of U.S.-made nitro widget can.
  • Did you know there is a specific way to pour Left Hand’s Nitro beers? You can watch how do it here.
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