Have you ever seen the “Moo-mobile” parked in front of Cicero’s? Not sure what the Moo-mobile is? Well, it is a purple PT Cruiser with the Left Hand Milk Stout label applied thoroughly around the entire vehicle. Not sure you would call it a “chick magnet,” but it definitely attracts beer fans. And for good reason…the driver is Mike Walters and he is the Midwest Regional Sales Rep for Left Hand Brewing Company. Mike is a mellow guy that has made several appearances at beer school and he always manages to entertain the crowd with humor, knowledge and great beer. Tonight he brought the class to their feet by pouring a beer. Sounds fascinating right? You would think that beer drinkers have seen thousands of beers poured and would actually yawn if someone tried to demonstrate the art of the pour, but this was more of a magic trick and he had every beer geek in the place craning their necks to get a better view. When it was over I wanted to yell out “Do it again!” Check out The Last Sip section below to learn more.
Left Hand was started in 1994 by Dick Doore and Eric Wallace after home brewing took over their lives. Since that time the brewery has grown to over 30,000 barrels per year and distribution to over 25 states. They have taken home numerous medals at the Great American Beer Festival including a gold for Sawtooth Ale during their first year of operation. You may recognize their logo as the simple red hand that appears on the bottle caps. It turns out that this iconic image was an attempt at humor by the artist who was hired to create a logo for the company. After many failed submissions he finally became frustrated and simply put his hand down and traced it. He tossed it at the owners and turned to leave when they both said “Hey, that’s perfect.”
Named for the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho, Sawtooth Ale was the first commercially produced beer for Left Hand and the style is Extra Special Bitter or ESB for people in the know. They still use the original homebrew recipe and in 2008 it was named the best ESB in the world by the New York Times. (ABV 5.30%, IBU 27)
He says- Copper color with the smell of honey and sweet caramel. Tastes more like homebrew than the other beers. Very easy to drink, but not as hoppy as other ESBs. Super smooth finish. Easy drinker, but not boring.
She says- This is a very mild and sessionable beer that would pair well with any food type. It had somewhat of a creamy mouth feel. It was well balanced and not overwhelming on any particular profile.
Stranger American Pale Ale
This is a newer offering from Left Hand and I was happy to see it on the menu tonight. Of course the name got a good chuckle out of the crowd and the brewery
shows their sense of humor by showcasing a guy with his left hand in his pocket on the label. Brewed with Rye Malt and hopped with Centennial,Willamette and Cascade. (ABV 5.0%, IBU 36)
He says- An orange tint to the color. I find a nice citrus hop aroma with hints of honey and flowers. I feel that the creaminess makes it lean toward the English style even though the label says American. Strong malt backbone to balance it out.
She says- Light amber in color, clean and crisp on the finish. It had a very slight hop profile. This stranger is not one to be afraid of – it has little bite. Another one to add to the list of possibilities for the timid new craft beer drinker. Mike told us that rye was added to incorporate spice. I have yet to be able to identify rye notes specifically, but I did enjoy it.
Milk Stout (Draft on Nitro)
Not many breweries list a stout as their flagship beer, but Left Hand flies the Milk Stout flag proudly as their numero uno. The idea for this beer came from watching people put sugar in their stouts to sweeten them up. Left Hand wanted to replicate that idea and finally decided that adding lactose to the beer would allow them to control the ABV while upping the sweetness of the beer. The result is amazing. There is no milk involved although they did march cows through the brewery once just to make people think about the big cow on the label. (ABV 6.0%, 25 IBU)
He says- Approaching black on the color wheel with a dark tan head. I smell chocolate and coffee. So creamy and smooth with notes of dark chocolate and espresso. Almost feels like melted ice cream on your tongue. If you like cream in your coffee you will love the sweet addition of lactose to the beer. Fantastic!
She says- It has a lovely cola color with a creamy cappuccino colored head. My dysfunctional nose was able to pick up distinct coffee and chocolate notes. It had a good amount of stout flavor without being too syrupy on the tongue. Most other stouts are a one drink sipper, but you could easily enjoy more than one of these in a sitting. Milk Stout would make a good introduction to the stout category, especially for a coffee lover.
The Last Sip
“If only you could bottle it” is an expression I have heard throughout my life. Most often it is in reference to something that can’t be bottled like a feeling of happiness or a great idea or maybe even fresh mountain air, but our friends at Left Hand have actually managed to bottle a magical moment, and a fantastic idea all at once. (and I’m almost positive that fresh mountain air is somehow involved too) You know that moment at the bar when your Milk Stout on nitro is poured into your glass and you put your face right up to the pint and watch the tiny bubble cascade down? That’s the moment that Left Hand just bottled! Fortunately Mike brought a couple of bottles and demonstrated the widget-free pour for each class. The room was filled with oohs and aahs as he emptied the bottle without hesitation. St. Louis should see these bottles soon and you will be able to recreate this magic trick at home. I’m not the only one geeking out on this revolution…there are tons of Nitro Milk Stout pouring videos online. It hasn’t reached “planking” or “Tebowing” status yet, but I see “nitro pouring” sweeping the nation very soon. Cheers to Left Hand for creating magic in a bottle!
About the Authors: Husband and wife Eric and Mimi have been attending beer school for about 2 years now and love every minute of it. Mimi was born and raised in St. Louis. Besides sitting down with a fabulous pint of beer, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her horse. Eric was born and raised in Texas. He enjoys sports, homebrewing and searching for the next great beer. A search he says he has been on for nearly a decade and one that will certainly never end. Mimi, on the other hand, has more recently discovered flavorful beer and is now proud to be called a hop-head. After having moved away for a few years, in 2007, this happy couple moved back to St. Louis and is enjoying all the St. Louis beer scene has to offer, especially Cicero’s Beer School. Cicero’s is lucky to have such an enthusiastic couple writing the beer school blog!