Beer: Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout
Brewery: Narragansett Brewing Company (Pawtucket, RI)
Style: Stout – Milk/ Sweet
5.5% ABV / 30 IBU
Coffee milk is absolutely an acquired taste – unless you hail from Rhode Island, where it was the named the official state beverage in 1993 as a nod to the smallest U.S. state’s gigantic fixation. Coffee milk is the magic (to Rhode Islanders, at least) that happens when you introduce two tablespoons of coffee syrup to 8 oz of cold milk, and Autocrat is the leading producer of this coffee syrup, a sickly-sweet mixture of corn syrup and coffee extract. Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout combines the Autocrat coffee syrup with Narragansett’s milk stout, and the result couldn’t be more Rhode Island unless they slapped a picture of Peter Griffin on the tall boy can.
Admittedly, the name of this beer is a little confusing. Technically, it’s really a “coffee milk” milk stout, since the Narragansett beer is brewed with lactose. But that part is easily overwhelmed by the bittersweet notes of the milk stout base, so “coffee milk-flavored stout” is probably the most apt description here. Which is to say: For a milk stout, it’s not particularly sweet. Roasted malt notes dominate, with a bitter start that clings to the back of your palette. This beer looks, smells, and absolutely tastes like a freshly-brewed cup of black coffee.
As a milk stout, Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout is a bit of a whiff, like Tony Eason in ’85: Ready for the field, but overmatched by the competition. This is problematic, considering that the main character of a milk stout is that odd, but familiar, milky flavor that’s introduced by the milk sugar/lactose. That’s what Rhode Islanders are going for with coffee milk, too, where the sweetness is paramount. As a coffee flavored stout, though, it’s pretty enjoyable – a medium-bodied mash-up with a bracing sort of bitterness that won’t leave you feeling bloated. That’s a win.