Here’s a beer search story that has a happy ending, sort of.
Robert O., a sous chef in Sarasota, emailed me to say how much he loves Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro on draft locally, and wondered if it’s available in bottles around here. He would love to use the beer from Fort Collins, Colo., in his cooking.
First, a bit of a sidetrack: Milk (or sweet) stouts have more unfermented sugars in them, making them sweeter and creamier than regular stouts. Some brewers make it with lactose, milk sugar. Left Hand’s stout is one of the easiest to find around here, along with Samuel Adams’ Cream Stout.
Nitrogen gas is sometimes mixed with regular carbon dioxide gas to give some beers (particularly stouts) a tight head and a less carbonated taste, making the beer feel even smoother on the palate, according to Wikipedia. You’ve probably seen this in use with Guinness. Some bottles and cans use a widget to add nitrogen and replicate the draft experience. That’s what Left Hand’s done with its Nitro bottle version of Milk Stout. You can buy bottles of their non-Nitro Milk Stout locally.
I contacted Joe Burns, director of specialty brands for JJ Taylor Distributing, Left Hand’s local distributor. Sadly, he reported that the Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro bottles are only being sold in limited markets, with Atlanta being the closest (Robert contacted Left Hand directly, and they said they would love to sell it in more places, but can barely supply their current areas. They are expanding their bottling line and say they may be able to grow into more markets in 2013.)
I thought that would be the end of the story: If Robert wanted the beer at home he’d have to buy a keg or possibly go through a gray-market retailer online. But Joe Burns had an excellent suggestion that’s much, much simpler: Robert should pick up a growler (or two) of the beer to-go from a local beer bar like World of Beer. What a great idea! Robert said he’ll do just that.