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Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week:" New Holland Marsha Mallow's Malted Milk Stout

By Paul Schneider in Food on Mar 2, 2012 10:20PM

2012_03_02_BotW2.jpg Our beer of the week coats your palate like a shag carpet - in a good way. Not like your uncle Bill's hasnt-been-shampooed-since-1963 basement rec room shag carpet. Like a shag carpet of chocolatey, malty goodness.

The brew, Marsha Mallow's Malted Milk Stout, is a collaboration between Brandon MacClaren of New Holland Brewing Co. and Cleetus Friedman of City Provisions. This is the latest in a monthly series of collaboration brews between Friedman and his brewing buddies around the region. The ambitious ongoing effort garnered front-page dining section treatment in the Trib last month and a nod as the food industry pro doing the most for craft beer.

Friedman and MacClaren dreamed up an unconventional recipe for a beer that resembles a chocolate malted milkshake. They added lactose, an unfermentable dairy sugar typically used in milk stouts to add body, creaminess, and complexity to the beer's mouthfeel without adding much additional sweetness. The more unusual addition is malted milk powder - the sweet, distinctive flavoring in malted milkshakes and Whoppers - not the Burger King kind. The result: not exactly what they set out for, but damn tasty nonetheless. Check out New Holland's blog post on the brew.


The beer pours midnight black with a fluffy cappuccino-colored head that becomes more tightly packed as it persists. The aroma is dominated by dark chocolate and malt sweetness, tinged with hints of hazelnut, carob, and tobacco. On the palate, the roasted barley and chocolate malt - a type of moderately kilned malted barley - take the lead, combining for layers of dark complexity, wavering between the smokiness of a campfire and the richness of mocha syrup. The sweetness is balanced by a hefty yet clean, earthy bitterness. But this beer is all about the mouthfeel, and that's where it shines, fully coating the palate with a creaminess that pulls forward the malted milk flavor and allows it to hang in balance with the chocolate, suggesting the effect Friedman and MacClaren intended. The chocolate flavor is too dark, however, to pull it off convincingly. Instead, it comes across as s'mores. Really good s'mores, made with dark chocolate and a roaring fire.

To pair, try something that contrasts with the dark flavors of the roasted barley and has some acidity to cleanse the palate, like a citrus fruit. If you're ambitious, add another layer to harmonize with some of the malt sweetness, creaminess, and mocha aroma. Panna cotta with blood oranges, drizzled with dark chocolate syrup, would be right on.

Marsha Mallow's Malted Milk Stout is available exclusively at City Provisions Delicatessen. Next up for Friedman is a Belgian white ale with blood orange and fennel brewed in collaboration with Greenbush Brewing.