Friday Happy Hour Special: New Holland Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout

dragonsmilk

Happy Friday everyone!  Glad you could make it.  Today, I’m trying something special.  Not only does it have an awesome name, but just holding the bottle makes me feel…empowered.  Like I’m on some kind of epic quest, full of maidens and green knights and both round and square tables.  What is this magical elixir I speak of?  It’s New Holland Dragon’s Milk, a stout of, if I’ve been told truthfully, monstrous proportions.  I can’t wait.  Let’s rock.

Alright, upon opening this monster, a distinct, earthen chocolate plume erupts from the bottle.  Along for the ride are vanilla, cinnamon, coffee and molasses.  I can almost smell how thick and syrupy the molasses is.  Potently rich and super dark, with an oaken kick, no doubt from the bourbon barrel.  If there are any hops here, I can’t find them.  They could be buried deep at the bottom, but the sheer amount of heavy blackness is blocking them out completely.  The main aroma profile is chocolate and coffee, both with a sweet, earthy edge that morphs into a heavily roasted syrup of stoutitude.  Dear lord, let’s drink it before this review gets out of control.

Like the aromas, the first flavor notes are dark chocolate and vanilla, intense and packing a nice bite.  Despite that, it flows smooth and syrupy over the tongue, sticking to every inch of your mouth.  The malts show up next, bringing another layer of subtle sweetness that mingles with the chocolate. Finishing strong is bold coffee, potent and rich that leaves your tongue tingling.  The best part is the oak and bourbon notes that hang out underneath everything, contributing some bite and a nice, earthy kick.  Like any oak or bourbon barrel aged brew, that woodsy char slips in and grabs a hold of every other flavor, ensuring you taste that aged property with every drink.  This beer is rocking a potent 10% ABV, and you can definitely feel it as it goes down.  Nothing like a whiskey burn, or even a wine-like throat dryness, but after a few minutes, you will start to feel that tingle in your gums.  That’s when this beer kicks you in the face, steals your wallet, and probably sets something on fire.  It’s a dragon.  That’s what they do.

But wait!  There’s more!  When poured, a mysterious silence falls over this beer, at least over the snifter that I poured into.  The dark notes are very subdued, almost missing, replaced instead by light and floral aromas.  There’s a slight hint of cinnamon and vanilla, acting as a bridge from bottle smell to poured smell, but the chocolates and roastiness and coffees are apparently shy.  Or sleeping.  Probably sleeping.  I’m assuming this is the calm before the storm.  All of this mystery is rising up from pure black, so dark that when held up to the light, it actually appears to absorb the glow like some kind of stoutish black hole.

Alright, I’ve now climbed into my suit of armor, and I’m ready to give the poured version a taste.  It’s even more potent and dark than the bottle.  The chocolates are more massive, with a bitter kick at the back.  The oaken earthiness rumbles across the tongue, holding up the chocolate and coffee.  It’s like a giant Brew Dragon that’s breathing a torrent of chocolate fire right at your mouth.  Your tongue begins to go numb, your gums tingle, and the coffee aftertaste clings to your throat like a liquid sherpa.  Every flavor that was present in the bottle is doubled, possibly even tripled, in strength.  Vanilla and cinnamon push in from the sides, accenting the sweetness of the chocolate and oak.  The smokiness from the malts hover just over the surface, like a deliciously eerie fog.  It’s basically a mega stout.  Which makes sense.  It’s milk from a dragon.  You know it has to be hardcore.

Overall, this stout shows up on an Arthurian level.  It delivers so hard in the flavor category, I needed to take a breather in between tastes.  Chocolate, coffee, vanilla, roasted malts, oak and bourbon all reach out and grab you by the neck, beating you into submission before becoming your best friend as it goes down.  The aftertaste lasts for about three years, which works well as it will take you about that long to drink it.  This is definitely not a chugging beer.  If you do, expect your eyes to burst into flame and the Twelve Furies of the Pit to drag you into unending anguish.  Or, you know, something like that.  Basically, take it slow.  Enjoy every flavor.  Don’t worry, you’ll be able to taste everything.  I purchased a bomber, so it was a bit pricey at $8 but, you get what you pay for.  If you like stouts, death metal, dragons, dragons listening to death metal while drinking stouts, or just uberly potent beers, you’ll need to try this.

A few great opportunities to enjoy a Dragon’s Milk is on one of those cold, dark nights, alone in your medieval cottage, after the plague has taken out everyone else in your village…or your living room.  Wherever you find yourself.  Also, after dinner, preferably with, or just after, dessert.  Usually have a coffee with your customary fall evening pumpkin pie?  Drink this instead.  New Holland Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout earns an A-, more than enough to decimate even the most fortified village.

Grading:

Taste: 9/10

Looks: 10/10

Price: 8/10

Drinkability: 9/10

Lasting Strength: 10/10

Overall: 9.2/10 A-

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