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Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
Where in Town: Magruder’s, 5626 Connecticut Ave. NW
Price: $12.49 for a six-pack
I’ve spent a lot of time playing arcade racing games, so when I saw my first beer “on nitro,” I thought it would be more intense like a nitro-supercharged engine. Just the opposite. Without going into the chemical physics of solubility and gas diffusion, let’s just say that nitrogen has a silkifying effect on beer. Nitrogenated brews, as opposed to carbonated ones, have a softer mouthfeel, taste less acidic, and boast a creamier, more stable head. Beermakers in the British Isles have been using nitrogen for almost 100 years and started putting it in six-packs via plastic gas-filled “widgets” in the 1980s (like the ball in a can of Guinness). In a feat of science, Colorado’s Left Hand Brewing has figured out how to bottle with nitrogen without a widget. Beer magic!
Left Hand’s Milk Stout was no bore before, and on nitro, it’s even better. Cocoa and burnt flavors from its dark roasted grains come forward first, followed by a wave of sweet cream thanks to the use of lactose sugar. Magnum hops help give the 6 percent-alcohol brew a bitter finish that entices the next sip. Throughout, the beer’s ultra-smooth texture inches it closer to chocolate milk than you thought a beer could get. To experience the visual marvel—a cascading waterfall of fine bubbles—pour the entire bottle straight into a glass immediately after opening it. Then proceed to drink until the finish line.
Photo by Tammy Tuck