Quick Characteristics Brewery: Tractor Brewing Co. Location: Albuquerque, NM Style: Milk Stout ABV: 6.0% IBUs: ? Appearance: Potent Black With One Finger of Chocolate-Tan Head Aroma: Sweet Molasses, Lactose Sugar, Milk Chocolate & Hints of Coffee Flavor: Roasted Malts, Slight Coffee Flavor With Hints of Milk Chocolate & Molasses Availability: Year-Round Pairs With: Rich Chocolate Cake, Bread Pudding, Double Chocolate Brownies, Vanilla Ice Cream Good milk stouts are a true pleasure of mine. There’s something about the creamy-smooth and sweet character imparted by milk sugars that make them a balm to any hard day. There really aren’t that many breweries that offer milk stouts as part of their lineup, that I’m aware of anyway. Odell’s Lugene Chocolate milk stout and Left Hand’s Milk Stout are probably the two best known and the ones that any new comers are going to be measured against. So, when I saw that Tractor Brewing Company in my home state was trying their hand at the style I was pretty excited. Tractor Brewing came into being in 1999, the same year I graduated high school, in Las Lunas New Mexico. They practiced their craft out of that same 2,000 square foot location until earlier this year when they moved the brewing digs into a 10,000 square foot warehouse in Albuquerque. The brewing company has begun to make a move away from bottling and toward canning. Their reasons, much like most breweries that have switched, are; ease of recycling, weight, cost, and some relief from the hassles of a bottling line. This milk stout is one of three beers being canned at the moment. “Oh, liquid darkness be… a revelry of Summer for you, a melody of Fall for me.” In order to showcase this move they recruited a local artist, David Santiago, to do the artwork. He does not disappoint. All three pieces of art are tied by theme, but differ nicely for each style of beer. The Milk Mustachio stout art, as described by Santiago on the Tractor Brewing blog, is “Being a dark beer, we wanted to work around a grayscale color palette that would be similar to a milk label. This beer can features a hipster, Ray Ban-wearing girl, rocking a milk mustache.” It’s a cool, unique picture and helps the cans standout in the ever-growing “craft-can” market. The Pour and Aroma This one pours a potent black which seems to swallow all surrounding light. One finger of chocolate-tan head forms, like the rocky, loose foam of a rootbeer float. The foam doesn’t stick long and leaves no lacing, as sign it was ever there. Aroma is a mix of sweet molasses, lactose sugar, milk chocolate, and hints of coffee. I can pick-up something like insinuations of roasted malts, as if the roasted malt is a canvas and the other scents have been thrown at the canvas willy-nilly until little of the canvas is left “unpainted.” Mouthfeel and Taste First thing hits me is how smooth this beer is. The body is medium and creamy creating a very satiating experience. I was actually a little surprised that the body didn’t come across fuller. Other milk stouts I’ve tried have had a thicker, heavier body that I had thought was needed to carry the dense, dark flavors and sweetness in a milk stout. I was wrong. The sweet lactose sugars hit first. Subdued roasted malts, slight coffee-like flavor and bittering, combine with hints of milk chocolate, molasses, and the sweet sugar. None of the flavors hold sway or overpower any other creating an overall impression of a mocha made with weak espresso. Very little hop character expressed in this beer, as it should be. What little bittering there is on the swallow tends towards coffee-like. Aftertaste is slightly coating, a pleasant combination of the sweet and roast malts. Finishing The Impression This is easy drinking, dangerously smooth liquid darkness. It seems this one is all about balanced moderation. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. The coffee is there, but only hints. Chocolate… present, but again only hints. Where Odell really showcased the sweetness and chocolate in their Lugene Milk Stout, this one doesn’t try to be anything but well-balanced. I think this is what makes it work so well as medium bodied beer in a field where it is easy to go thicker and heavier. The medium, but still full body, allows for a more enjoyable summer experience. We tend to stay away from the heavy dark beers during the hot months, but this may be a beer worth a summer’s evening and if it’s really hot you can always take some coffee or vanilla ice cream and make yourself a Milk Mustachio float. Cheers! More Beer Reviews: Mean Old Tom by Maine Beer Company Storm King Stout from Victory Brewing Co. Imperial Java Stout from Santa Fe Brewing Co. Wake ‘N Bake Coffee Oatmeal Stout from Terrapin Beer Co.