Dragon’s Milk (Bourbon Barrel Stout) – New Holland Brewing Company – Holland

Dragon's Milk - New Holland Brewery

Dragon’s Milk – New Holland Brewery

Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout from New Holland Brewing Company  – Holland

As a dark shadow falls upon the land, the villagers cower in fear. But I do not. I sit proud on the beast’s back, glowing in my success. As the dragon touches down, I hear shouts of disbelief.

“Shane! He is back! And he rides the dragon!”

The winged leviathan bows her head to let me dismount. As I climb down off her shimmering, red scaled shoulders I feel her hot breath puffing into my hair. Before the great dragon takes off again, I bow in thanks. She nuzzles her massive snout into my chest and then, with a massive flap of her wings, she is off and over the horizon. As the villager slowly creep towards me, I turn around and hold my hands in the air.

“People, fear me not! For I have been to the dragons lair, and I have suckled from the dragon’s teat!”

Okay, that was excessively weird. I apologize for that. Moving on…

Meanwhile, back in Normalville:

I was a bit anxious to find this beer, as I heard the restocking rate was slow and it was very popular. Also, supposedly, it’s delicious. Much to my surprise I found a single four pack left in the nearby Meijer. Purposefully ignoring the price tag, I paid before I could think about it and made a hasty retreat to the apartment.

Also I bought a steak…

And an MSU beanie….

Nerd time:

Bourbon. I’m not sure if they even bothered to empty the barrels completely before aging the beer in it. The smell is quite obviously whiskey with a strong hint of vanilla. The normal, dark chocolaty stout smells are buried pretty deep. There, but buried. It wasn’t a tear-inducing smell, though. Foreboding without being overwhelming.

As for the initial taste: Bourbon. Wait, I’m sorry. BOURBON. That’s better. I actually got instinctive whiskey face from my first few sips. But don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t burn like some whiskey barrel stouts I have had in the past, where it seems like they just floated some whiskey in the batch. It has a wonderfully executed, smooth taste of bourbon whiskey tailing off to a prominent but not overly sweet vanilla chaser. Along with the vanilla you finally get a hint of that bitter sweet, dark chocolate stoutiness. The after taste is especially fun as I got some definite whiskey cotton mouth. I mean, that’s fun for me at least.

This is a must for whiskey and/or stout drinkers (and I do like my whiskeys and stouts). Harsh but balanced. I grew some chest hairs as well as felt the urge to bake a cake.

Sorry again. I may have ventured into the weird zone with that analogy.

The whens, the whats and the whys:

I gave it away in the beginning, but this was one of the first beers I read about when I started perusing “good Michigan beers” and it peaked my interest. After reading the article at the bottom of this page, “When There is No Substitute for Your Favorite Beer” by the Beer & Whiskey Brothers, I became resolute to buy it at first sight. The article made me a bit nostalgic as there are definitely a couple of beers I will always hold as a bench mark for certain styles. Kona Brewing Company’s Koko Brown. Stone’s Ruination. Unibroue’s Maudite. I’ll never attest that these are the greatest beers ever made in their respective styles, I will just always assert they are irreplaceable in my reverence.

Moving on…

This was my first grey and slightly chilly day in Michigan, so finding heavy stout was perfect timing. A bit sad I didn’t have a classy tulip glass to drink it out of, or an epic goblet, but the beer still warmed well in my Wal Mart square special. As with all good Imperial Stouts, this beer tasted better as it caught down to the room temperature. Take your Dragon’s Milk neat.

Side note: it does bother me when I find stores that plop every beer straight in the fridge. I shouldn’t expect too much, though, from Meijer. I’m just happy they had it.

I was also amused to see the pairings list on the bottle. “Red Meat, smoked foods, balsamic, rich cheese & dark chocolate.” I conveniently had a steak on hand to test New Holland’s Cicerone: a term I learned just now from Google by searching “Beer Sommelier.” He did get it right. The beer does have a wine quality to it, though, so my guess is this was an easy assignment for him/her. Now to find some stinky, smokey cheese.

Dragon’s Milk is obviously a from-the-glass sipper beer reserved for the fanciest of beer parties or the quietest of evenings. With 10% alcohol, pouring one of these in a goblet to sip on while you sit next to the fire place and read A Song of Ice and Fire sounds like an ideal evening. By the bottom of the glass you might find yourself in Westeros.