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All about milk stout
What is milk stout?
Milk stout beer is a dark ale with an unusual ingredient: lactose sugar. This addition makes the beer particularly sweet, and some varieties are dessert-quality, with notes of whole milk, coffee and chocolate.
The producers obtain lactose from whey, a byproduct of cheese production, and they turn it into lactose sugar crystals. Beer yeasts like Saccharomyces cerevisiae have trouble breaking down lactose, so they don't alter the sweet taste of the sugar. Some brewers add lactose crystals during the boiling process, while others do so during fermentation.
A brief history of milk stout
At one point in time, people considered milk stout what we would call today a "superfood." Doctors used to recommend it as a tonic for sick people and even nursing mothers.
Guinness, one of the leading beer producers of all times, started to market stout beers with the slogan "Guinness is good for you." Apparently, they based this claim on a marketing survey where most participants said they felt better after drinking a milk stout.
In the 1940s, the British government decided to ban brewers from using the word "milk" in the name of their beers so that people wouldn't get the idea that milk beers contain the same nutrients found in a glass of milk. But the trend of "healthy" beers never truly died. For example, today you can often see kale ales on the market.
With what can you serve these dark beers?
A chocolate milk stout is a great choice to have with dessert, but that doesn't mean that you can't also pair these strong, sweet ales with savory foods like Gouda cheese, grilled meats and roasts.