Brewery: The Bruery, Placentia, California
Beer: 8 Maids-A-Milking
Serving: 750 ml bottle
Information: 11.3% ABV
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Availability: Limited Release (One time only.)
Cellaring: Under proper conditions, this beer can be cellared for extended periods.
Syrupy and pitch black, this imperial milk stout pours with some serious viscosity and a creamy mocha head to cap it off. Dots and small fingers of lace dribble down the glass as the suds subside.
Heavy in ever sense of the word, 8 Maids-A-Milking is rich with dark Dove chocolate and a hefty helping of lactose but oddly overcome by its even bigger Belgian yeast aroma that imparts overripe plum, milk chocolate-covered raisins, and plenty of herbal spiciness on the finish. It might be labeled a milk stout but it smells like a Belgian strong to its core and an overdone one at that.
The swirl of milk and dark chocolate come together with lactose sweetness wonderfully in this rich beer, creating a dark, smooth body from the malts; a perfect example of what an imperial milk stout would be. Then comes the Belgian yeast. While not quite as flamboyant as the aroma suggests the flavor seems to hone in on undercurrents of dark fruit while laying off the abundant spiciness the nose deploys, though white pepper, clay, and clove still come through.
Big and bold but not syrupy as the pour leads one to believe, the rich, full body is incredibly smooth, finishing with a delicate balance of sweet lactose, dry alcohol, and a prick of spice on the tongue.
If there’s any brewery that would “imperialize” anything, it would be The Bruery; their tongue-in-cheek “CONTAINS ALCOHOL” on their labels is quite amusing to be sure. So when you’re brewing a series of 12 beers, one each year that needs to last until year 12, they need to be a) high in alcohol and b) brew styles that will keep with age. A milk stout for year 8’s * Maids-A-Milking was an obvious choice but how to make it last another 4 years? Amp up the alcohol and make it a Belgian beer, duh!
I wasn’t a huge fan of 5 Golden Rings but I’m even less a fan of 8 Maids-A-Milking and it’s because the Belgian yeast overpowers everything great about this beer; its deep malt complexity, chocolate characteristics, and it truly being an “imperial milk stout”. This beer might as well be a straight Belgian Strong ale with lactose because all I get from it almost entirely across the board is spicy Belgian yeast. It’s not an awful beer by any means and, if you love Belgian yeast you may wet yourself for this but, if you’re not a fan, avoid it like you’ve got the worst case of being lactose intolerant.
Score: 70 / 100 – Decent