Narragansett Brewing is something of a Rhode Island tradition. Many older New Englanders have fond memories of ‘Gansett beer, and the brand has been making something of a comeback lately. Despite what it’s fans may expect, ‘Gansett is not the official state drink of Rhode Island. That honor goes to coffee milk. For a long time, two brands competed for coffee-milk supremacy: Eclipse and Autocrat. Autocrat bought Eclipse in 1991, making Autocrat a de facto part of Rhode Island’s state drink. Naturally, then, Narragansett would want to team up with Autocrat.
Instead of adding coffee syrup to milk, though, Narragansett added it to a milk stout. A milk stout is a stout brewed with lactase – a sugar that exists in milk. Lactase cannot be fermented by brewer’s yeast, so it stays behind, making the beer sweeter.
So, with the use of lactase and coffee-syrup, yes, this is a sweet beer. It’s not too sweet, though. The coffee syrup and the roasted malt add a roasted flavor which provides a little depth. The beer pours dark black with a big coffee-with-cream colored head. The head simmers down quickly but leaves a thin layer that puts nice lacing down the glass. The first aroma is of coffee and chocolate. These are the dominant flavors as well. There’s not much noticeable hop aroma. The flavor is not overly complex, but it’s certainly pleasant. This beer is like drinking dessert, but in a good way. It’s not sugar sweet like chocolate cake but rich like tiramisu.
This is a strange one to review. The lactase and coffee-syrup definitely keep it from being Reinheitsgebot pure, and it’s not the kind of highly complex or super hoppy beer that beer nerds go crazy for. If, however, you want a stout you can drink for dessert, this may be the best one out there.