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Farson’s Lacto Milk Stout Review

January 25, 2010

Brothers from another mother.

Beer in Malta? To be honest with you I was not even sure where Malta was or if it was even a country when a beer from there showed up on my “Beer-A-Day” 2010 calendar. The beer was Farson’s Lacto. For the record, flipping the page on my Beer-A-Day calendar is the highlight of my morning at work. I read the few paragraphs and went about my business as usual.

It just so happened that as I was out beer shopping a few days later I happened to spot a bottle of Farson’s sitting right there on the shelf for a measly $2.00. I scooped it up and it has sat in my fridge for two weeks right next to it’s dairy inspiration.

Back to Malta. I guess it is a small island country located in the Mediterranean. According to beer-pages.com beer and brewing in Malta dates back to the mid-1800’s when H&G Simonds started importing beer to Malta to supply British troops stationed there. A few mergers later and in 1928 Simonds Farsons began brewing beer. It is now currently known as Simonds Farsons Cisk following another merger. The brew beers such as this Milk Stout, Cisk Lager, and Hopleaf Ale. There’s a lot more going on in Malta regarding and if you want to learn more I’ll refer you to this excellent article going much more into detail: The Beers of Malta.

This beer is in the style of a Milk or Sweet Stout which are typically brewed with lactose in order to add a touch of extra fermentable sugar and sweetness. The bottle states this is a “Milk stout with caramel color added.” According to Ratebeer.com this is one of Michael Jackson’s 500 classic brews and the recipe remains unchanged from its creation in 1946. It weighs in at 3.8% ABV and comes in a single 12 oz. bottle with no other descriptive information visible.

THE BEER

Beer: Lacto Milk Stout

Brewer: Simonds Farsons Cisk, Malta

Style: Milk/Sweet Stout

Serving: Bottle, 12 oz. pour into Guinness pint glass

ABV: 3.8%

REVIEW

Farson’s Lacto Milk Stout pours dark with shades of red and orange showing through at the corners. A small dark tan head emerges, but quickly retreats leaving brown sediment down the side of the glass.  I’m not sure what the caramel color added is really doing for this one.

This has a slightly funky and pungent aroma. It almost smells hoppy, but not quite. It is not particularly pleasant. Some dark chocolate notes invade and a rather apparent alcohol aroma too. This is quite surprising considering the ultra-low alcohol by volume percentage. Perhaps I’m detecting a bit of smoked wood as well. I feel like I am also getting whifs of milk, but this could be because I’m expecting it.

The flavor is sweet and at first it sets me aback. I’m getting strong lactose notes that merge with weak hint of chocolate. I’m assuming this bottle is fresh considering I don’t remember ever spotting it on shelves before, but the flavors and aromas almost strike me as past prime. It is like someone tried making chocolate milk with only 1/10th of the powder that should be used. The flavor is weak. A direct milk gulp followed by beer gulp actually improves the flavor, but not substantially. This might pair well with a chocolate dessert.

In the mouth this feels light and watery. It reminds me of the Ovaltine my 90 year old Grandfather drinks (and loves). The only other Milk Stout I have had is by Left Hand, and it would dominate this beer in any side-by-side. There is moderate carbonation and the finish is quick, unrevealing, and boring. The low ABV makes this drinkable over long periods, but I can’t imagine anyone downing more than one bottle in any one sitting.

For some strange reason this beer went from bad to okay as soon as I started taking a drink of milk every two or three beer drinks. Perhaps they are a match made in heavan, but Farson’s Lacto doesn’t do much to stand on its own spotted four legs. I don’t feel like I wasted my $2, but I’ll take a glass of milk over this brew any day.

Beer, meet Milk.

THE MATH

Appearance: 3.0/5

Aroma: 2.5/5

Flavor 3.0/5

Mouthfeel: 2.5/5

Drinkability: 2.0/5

Overall: 2.6/5

Chance of Craft Beer Epiphany: 5%

Maybe, just maybe someone out there is just waiting for a bland, watery, dark beer that tastes worse than milk to come along and rock their world. This beer has it’s merits, and like I said, it is improving as I drink it, but it never reaches any sort of beer epiphany level. Just a little less watery-ness and a fuller body would greatly improve this brew.

LINKS

Farsons Lacto

Beeradvocate

Ratebeer

Musings Over a Pint: Maltese Beer

B. United

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3 Comments
  1. Ah, Malta! Wonderful place – been there on holiday a couple of times. Have to say, I didn’t once see Lacto available on draught and besides, I was happily knocking back pints of Farson’s Hop Leaf pale ale. Not a stunningly good beer in its own right, but in Malta, sitting outside a cafe in the main square Valletta, with the Mediterranean sun blazing down and the ghosts of the Knights Hospitaller fighting off the Sultan’s armies during the Great Siege (okay that last bit might just have been in my head, mind – can’t guarantee actual ghosts every time) then it was pretty close to perfect. I brought one bottle home to the UK and drank it last summer and it was still good, straight out of the fridge.

    And I also brought home a bottle of Lacto, which was… not so good. I think “bland, watery, dark beer” summed it up pretty well. Maybe it just doesn’t travel?

    • Thanks for checking out my blog! I appreciate the comments and praise. Hop Leaf sure is a clever name for a beer, and I imagine it was a perfect companion for a sunny afternoon in Malta’s capitol city. I have not been able to do much traveling when it comes to beer, but I plan on it one day. I was really surprised at the wealth of information there was regarding Maltese beer. If I ever see a bottle of Hop Leaf I’ll be sure to pick it up and imagine sitting there too under the Mediterranean sun. I’m on my way to reading your review of Hop Leaf right now. Thanks again for the support and I hope I can help direct some hits your way. Cheers!

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