Bristol, I'm coming to the conclusion, is a pretty good beer city, the latest evidence being the Bristol Beer Factory who the other day sent me a sample of their Milk Stout.
It's a rich, malty, slightly sweet style more akin to a Mackeson than a Guinness and one which apparently used to be brewed on the same site as the brewery now occupies some 100 years ago. I thought it was called Milk Stout because it was given to nursing mothers but according to the BBF it's because it contains lactose sugar.
Personally I think this style's main virtue is as a cooking beer which sounds derogatory but it isn't. The BBF themselves were busy tweeting today that they'd cooked a joint of brisket in it with great results and I've used them to make terrific gravies, stews and even bread and fruitcake.
According to the label it was the Champion Beer of Bristol in 2006 and 2007 which doesn't sound like a massive category* but it went on to pick up first prize in the stout section of CAMRA's National Winter Ales Festival in Manchester last year. Nice to see a historic style being revived.
*Wrong here, apparently! Bristol Beer Factory tells me "the CAMRA Bristol Beer Festival has about 120 beers at it, so Champion beer isn't that small a victory." Agreed! I take it back . . .