Chocolate and coffee are two of the easiest words to use when describing the flavour of a beer made from dark malts. All three have different beginnings as tree seed, plant seed, or grain but since the roasting process is similar it’s not surprising that drinks made from all three share similar flavours.
For a few years now Guelph’s Wellington Brewery has pulled chocolate off the bench that is the beer writer’s thesaurus and called it into play as an actual ingredient. There’s also milk sugar on the ingredient list to make the Chocolate Milk Stout name official. No need to worry though that this is an over-sweet, kid’s beer; the chocolate flavours are dark and slightly bitter and the lactose only adds a touch of balancing sweetness.
One of my favourite wine stories comes from the end of a winery tour I took a few years ago with some family members. We had seen the barrel cellar and the fermenting tanks, and we had been given tons of tasting notes. One of my younger cousins leaned in and quietly said, “Dave, I think I get it all, but where do they add the strawberries?”
Obviously, there are no strawberries in wine — it’s just wine-label speak. But when a beer announces a flavour in its name, there is a good chance that it’s an actual ingredient. In the case of the Chocolate Milk Stout from Wellington Brewery, cocoa powder from Peru and milk sugar are added during the brewing process.
There is a hint of roasted malt aroma, but this stout really starts to perform on the first sip, with rich and dense dark chocolate and espresso flavours. It tastes very much like fancy, restaurant-made hot chocolate that probably involved a bar of the good stuff. The thick and smooth — but very slightly gritty — mouthfeel solidifies the connection.
Food is a bit tough to pair with such a strongly flavoured stout. I want to say that it would go well with a dessert that features one of chocolate’s standard partners like peanut butter, strawberries or cherries (cherry cheesecake, for instance), but really, this beer could stand in as dessert on its own.
This Wellington one-off is available for a very limited time. The Queen & Beaver has it as a rotating cask selection, while 3030 on Dundas West has it from a keg and Stout Irish Pub is bringing it on as the next rotating selection.
Prices for a pint vary between $6 and $8. There is a full list of Toronto bars carrying it on thebrewery’s Facebook page, but it’s best to call ahead and check.