The speed and rate at which the craft beer industry is evolving is purely remarkable, and we love it! One thing is for sure, brewing companies are not scared to test the waters with some 'out of the box' ideas. An example of a fairly newer trend is the use of lactose in craft beer.
Historically speaking, lactose was only used in milk stouts, which typically have a lower ABV and obtain their sweetness from the added milk sugar (lactose).
But as of lately, we are noticing a major shift in the use of lactose. You can now find lactose in beer styles that you would never have imagined.
Why Is There Lactose In My Beer?
Before we get into why you can now find lactose in your craft beer, we believe it's important to understand what lactose is.
But to keep a long story short, lactose is milk sugar that is derived from milk, and in your beer's case, unfermentable. (No pun intended, maybe.)
During the brewing process, most sugars turn into alcohol, but not good ole' lactose. When brewing with this fella you can expect a creamier and sweeter product.
What Beers Have Lactose In Them?
There's nothing stopping it, lactose goes really well with stouts, and one notable brewery that has made a pretty tasty milk stout is Lefthand Brewing.
Recently, the idea of dessert-like beers has become extremely popular. Though lactose is usually the only added ingredient to sweeten a stout, other ingredients like syrup, brown sugar, caramel, and cinnamon are now being used to boost up the sweetness.
But it's 2019, we have little robots named Alexa that talk to us in our house, kids scooting around on hoverboards, and country rap songs; so lactose doesn't end with dark beers anymore. Brewers are experimenting with sours ales, IPA's, and lagers.
A style that is really sitting well the craft beer community is the Milkshake IPA. I mean, who doesn't like a good milkshake? Especially if beer is involved.
The Milkshake IPA tends to have a heavy body (probably from consuming too many shakes) and sweet flavor.
If you're looking to try some out, we recommend going with Tired Hands Brewing Company for a first impression. They have 15+ flavors of Milkshake IPA's such as:
- Milksaint Fiver
- Tangerine Dream
- Extra Vanilla
- Rose Panna Cotta
- Passion Fruit
- Orange Creamsicle
- Lemon Meringue
And the list goes on and on, and on, and on.
Other styles that brewers are dabbling in adding lactose and completely crushing it are Berliner Weisse and Gose sour beers.
To balance between sweetness and tartness, brewers add fruit with the lactose while whipping up this phenomenal concoction.
Is This Just Another Trend?
Look, we like to try to be, but we aren't psychics. The way the craft beer industry is heading, there is no way for us to know if this is only a trend or here to stay.
What was once a "WTF" in the beer industry is now accepted. Craft beer enthusiasts like all of us are down to try out some sweeter beers, and the funky new flavors are bringing some new faces to the craft beer community.