Beer: Elsie's Irish Coffee Milk Stout
Brewery: Papago Brewing
Style: Milk Stout
ABV: 5.5 percent
A few days before each holiday visit to my parents' house, my dad will call me up under the guise of checking in before I visit. We'll chat about the trip, what we have planned, how packing is going. But the real reason for his call emerges soon enough: "You think you could bring a growler of Elsie's with you?"
Coffee and beer are two favorites at the Fowle house, and Elsie's Irish Coffee Milk Stout combines both in a way that makes us go through growlers at an alarming pace. Named after Papago owner Ron Kloth's dog, Elsie's is a stout brewed with lactose (hence the "milk" in its name) for body and sweetness. A pound of Irish cream-flavored coffee beans is also added to each barrel, giving the brew the flavor of an Irish car bomb.
Order Elsie's at Papago and they'll give it to you in a nonic pint, but it has such a coffee-like appearance it might as well be in a mug. Black as the night, the brew's topped with a frothy, mocha-hued head that pulls you in for a whiff. Like Bailey's? Then you'll like this aroma. Dark, roasted coffee beans swirl with sweet Irish cream and a hint of sourdough breadiness.
The medium-bodied brew swirls across the palate with a smoothness and relaxed carbonation that contradicts the Irish car bomb explosion of flavor. Blasts of espresso, deeply roasted malts and sweet, smooth Irish cream detonate on the taste buds before a clean, palate-cleansing finish.
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Elsie's is a favorite among milk stouts for its big coffee flavor as well as how easily a glass goes down -- the drinkability of this beer is dangerous. I regularly down a pint in about five minutes, and I could probably finish off entire growlers if I had a little less self-restraint. Try it on tap at Papago and see if you can hold out.
Food pairing suggestions:
Breakfast foods are a perfect pairing for this sweet, coffee-laden brew. A piece of coffee cake will play off the beer's beans nicely, and a breakfast croissant with smoked turkey and swiss cheese works well with the brew's mild roasted malts.
Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone, an accredited guide to beer.