Brewing With Lactose (When To Add, How Much, and FAQ!)

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Adding lactose to beer has become a popular trend over the last several years. It adds a rounded sweetness that can be used to balance bitterness in some beers. 

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Brewing with lactose also adds a fuller body and a creamy mouthfeel. 

Why do brewers use lactose?

Brewers use lactose to add sweetness, body, and a creamy mouthfeel to beer. It can be used to balance out the bitter hops flavors in IPAs. Or to add a subtle sweetness that isn’t cloying like malt-forward beer. 

Most recently, the trend of using lactose in brewing is to develop sweet, dessert-like beers. These beers are fruity and creamy tasting like a smoothie or a milkshake. Traditionally lactose has been used in stout beer to add sweetness, body, and its unmistakable silky, creamy texture. 

Lactose is non-fermentable milk sugar. Brewers’ yeast lacks the enzyme to break down the lactose into alcohol. So it remains in the beer as residual sugar. 

How does lactose add sweetness to beer?

How much sweetness does lactose add to beer? 

The sweetness varies by the type of beer and how much is used. For stouts, it can take up to a pound to get the full, sweet taste that lactose adds.  

History of using lactose in beer

The first commercial milk stout was launched in 1909 by the English brewer Mackeson’s of Hythe. The Brewer wanted to promote more healthful properties it stout beer. They thought that adding milk sure would make the beer seem more nutritious.  

The most common beer styles that include lactose

New England IPAs: Tired Hands Brewing gets the credit for starting the Milkshake IPA craze. The sweet, fruity flavor of this beer is amplified with the addition of lactose to a New England IPA. It also adds body and a creamy mouthfeel similar to a milkshake.

How is lactose used in brewing beer?

– To achieve the specific characteristics like the sweetness and texture of a milk stout. – To tone down sour beers and compliment the tartness while adding a body that isn’t normally present. – To improve the mouthfeel or flavor of a dry beer.

Alternatives to using lactose in homebrewing

– Mashing malt at higher temperatures leaves more unfermentable sugars. – Using yeast types with lower attenuation will leave more sugar and add body. – Using crystal malts will increase the sweetness and body of your beer.

Keep reading to learn more about Brewing With Lactose and more!