What is lactose? Why is it used in beer and what does it do? What makes it so popular these days?
The use of lactose (milk sugar) in beer provides a couple desired outcomes:
- The lactose used in the brewing process is not all converted to alcohol. Therefore, some trace amounts are left to provide a fuller body and mouthfeel in the final product.
- The Lactose that is left in the beer imparts sweet flavors desirable in the styles that it’s typically used in – stouts, sours, and some IPAs.
But why haven’t we seen lactose being used before and why is it all the rage now?
Lactose in beer
Lactose was primarily first used in stouts. The stouts that used lactose were lower in
ABV, and contained a different flavor profile. These stouts are mostly referred to as ‘Milk Stouts.’ The milk stout contains milk sugar (lactose) and offers up a much sweeter profile than, say, a Russian imperial stout.
Why is Lactose popular only now?
As we see the rise of many new beer styles over the more recent years, there are a few that make great use of lactose. This includes the IPA and its newest variant: the Hazy IPA, the Milkshake IPA or New England style IPA.
New England IPA
The hazy IPA is a fuller India Pale ale that offers a beautiful blend of citrus hop taste and aroma. A new name in the craft beer world, mostly thanks to John Kimmich at The Alchemist Brewing in Vermont, NEIPAs are a wonderful ‘new’ beer.
That being said, to partner with the NEIPAs’ already full body, lactose is often added to these styles of beer to provide a fuller body and sweeter taste to pair with the citrus already present from the hop varieties often found in these beers: Citra, Centennial, Mosaic, and many more.
A particularly tasty NEIPA in Broward County would have to be Albertus from Dangerous Minds Brewing. Albertus has a 7.6% ABV and is brewed with Citra, Mosaic, and Azzaca hops. It’s bursting with hop notes of citrus and passionfruit.
At our brewery we have our Hop Bombs which is an award winning beer! Our Hop Bomb is a Milkshake IPA clocking in at 8% ABV. We used a perfect blend of citra, iadho-7, bru-1, hallertau blanc hops and added some lactose with a hint of vanilla to round out this Milkshake IPA.
The use of lactose has risen in popularity as other beer styles rise. Sours are another beer style that brewers love to use lactose with. The sour, so delicate and versatile, can be taken a step further with lactose. By using milk sugar in a sour, the beer takes on a sort of ‘smoothie’ characteristic as it’s made thicker and sweeter.
Since sours can take on so many forms and flavors, they’re often experimented with quite a bit, and so it might be difficult to find one you really like that stays around for a long time.
A tasty smoothie sour out right now in Broward County, Florida is Sour Scoop from 3 Sons Brewing. One of Broward County’s finest sours, this pastry sour is made with chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla to create a deliciously sweet pastry sour.
NEED MORE INFORMATION?
Now that you’ve learned why Lactose is used in beer, you might need more information. Maybe you’re wondering, “What other beer styles use Lactose?” or you want to learn about the beers we produce that contain lactose.
If this is the case, you should look no further than Yeasty Brews. We have a lot to offer, including artisanal beers, savory bites, jam packed events, and all around great vibes.
To learn more about what we offer, check out our menu now.
Yeasty’s opened its taproom and kitchen in December 2020 giving people a place to enjoy flavorful craft beers and hard seltzers in a funky, fun environment. Founded by the Double D’s, Dan & Denielle, who love bringing awesome people together over delicious drinks and food. Our menu is simple and satisfying with something for everyone. If you are looking for a place to vibe out and chill then stop in today! Your tastebuds will thank you.