1/8/18: Urban Artifact's Milkman

5:28 PM

Urban Artifact is one of those breweries that I've wanted to write about for a long time but about which have never found the opportune moment for a post. Ever since I discovered their beer at the 2015 Ohio Brew Week (in Athens, of course), I've been steadily, but not overwhelmingly, enjoying their beers. As one of my friends put so plainly three years ago--I've liked every single one of their offerings.

In that Athens July a few years ago we actively sought out bars pouring Urban Artifact--a ton of breweries from around the state were represented and we had nowhere near enough time/money to try them all--because they make brews that are just that good. Then, last year, they unveiled Milkman, their breakfast stout. This was a draft-only beer that I wanted to try insanely bad. But, by the time I finally made it out to the taproom, it was gone.

This year, though, Urban Artifact did the impossible--they canned the stuff! I snatched up a four-pack they day they hit retail shelves (I even visited the taproom again to nab some Milkman variants. I won't be posting about these here, but check my Untappd throughout the year--they'll hit that as I drink them). The question is: Was Milkman worth the hype (I, admittedly, hyped it up for myself) and wait?

Urban Artifact starting turning Northside, Cincinnati's St. Patrick's Catholic Church into their brewing facility in the summer of 2014 and opened their doors to the beer-guzzling masses in the spring of the following year. Specializing in tart, fruit, and wild ales, the beers they make are brewed with local yeast and bacteria. Their About Page has more in-depth details about the yeast and bacteria used, which, to be honest, is all a little too sciency for me to understand right now, so be sure to hit it up if your interest is piqued.

As of this writing, Milkman is number nine on the brewery's Current Taps page. It's listed as an 8% ABV breakfast stout with maple, coffee, and hints of vanilla and cinnamon. It's got chocolate and biscuit malts, too, if you'd want to know. My can also lists molasses and almonds as ingredients.

The bouquet is all breakfast. A preliminary waft gives heavy coffee notes up front. Upon return for a second, there's also an obvious mapliness to it, with some cinnamon and vanilla sprinkled in for good measure. I think I detect some earthy nuttiness (which can be attributed to the almond in the recipe), but I could just be imagining I smell it here because I know it was added. I really like the aroma my can's giving off. Purrl does, too. She took twelve deep whiffs of the beer (which practically means that, by her standards, it's impeccable). 

While there's a subtle milk stout sweetness to Milkman, most of what I each swig is dark and bitter Brazilian coffee with a little bit of almond for good measure. There are heavy blows of maple, cinnamon, and vanilla in the finish with the slightest dab of molasses. This is one hell of an expertly crafted beer.

The stout's mouthfeel is full--like taking a sip of coffee while maply residue from your pancakes still lingers on your tongue. It's not sappy but it is good and creamy.

When I was in sixth grade I spent a week of my precious summer vacation at a summer camp two-and-a-half hours away from home. While some of the days I was there had sunny moments, the week was, for the most part, cloudy and wet. Rain fell from the sky like a modern-day Noah had just finished loading the animals onto his ark.

One particularly gloomy morning, my counselors ushered my cabinmates and me into a picnic shelter. Once we were all present and accounted for, we were handed empty metal coffee cans, kindling, bacon, small bowls of pancake batter, packets of syrup, and matches. The counselors then proceeded to demonstrate how to start a small fire, position an overturned coffee can above it, and use the upside-down can as a small skillet to cook breakfast. They then turned us loose to replicate their methods.

My bacon didn't come out as crispy as I would have liked and my pancakes were a little soggy. But neither of those things mattered. I had an absolute blast. It was fun to fend for myself (kind of) and see how my friends did with their food. My can of Milkman brings that outdoor breakfast on that rainy morning to my mind.

In case you can't tell, I really like Urban Artifact's Milkman. It's like my friend stated a few years ago--all of their beers are good. While it looks like you can still get some of the stout in the taproom, I'm not sure about its availability elsewhere. But, should you happen to find some, don't sleep on it. This dark and bitter breakfast stout stands far apart from it's sweeter cousins. It gets a 9.5/10 here.

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