grimm artisanal ales apricot pop! photo by jonathan gayman

6 lactose beers that definitely aren't stouts

Beer lovers know that lactose isn’t just for dunking chocolate chip cookies. With its iconic milk stout, Left Hand Brewing Co. popularized the trend of using milk sugar to balance the incessant roasted character of stout malt bills, creating a mildly sweeter palate without excessively increasing alcohol content.

Now, the unfermentable sugar is working its magic in diverse styles beyond the stout. Breweries are experimenting with lactose to add body and texture to unexpected beers. It creates an opaque, creamy look and adds a touch of sweetness that works to highlight and enhance other flavor-driving ingredients like hops, fruits and herbs.

Milkshake IPAs add lactose (and usually fruit and vanilla) to the hazy New England version of the style for juicy, fruity beers boasting a little more tongue-heavy texture than regular IPAs. Dessert Berliner Weisses give the traditionally tart wheat style a sweet makeover along the same lines as popular pastry stouts. They incorporate vanilla, lactose and sometimes fruit for a more custard-like Berliner.

Try these fun and varied introductions to the world of lactose beers beyond the stout.

1. 4 Hands Brewing Co. First Impression
This creamy nitro white ale gets its body and texture from both lactose and tiny nitrogen bubbles. It’s delicately nuanced with grainy undertones, juicy sweet raspberry notes and a rounded softness that cloaks the palate thanks to Madagascar vanilla beans. It’s not currently available, but don't worry – you’ll have a second chance at a First Impression on 4 Hands’ beer list.
On draft (when available) at 4 Hands Brewing Co.

2. The Bruery / Funky Buddha Brewery ¡Guava Libre!
A pastry-focused collaboration between two of the most experimental breweries in the U.S., this medium-bodied and balanced brew is reminiscent of Nilla wafers topped with juicy tropical fruit preserves.
750-milliliter bottle: $13 at 
The Wine and Cheese Place

3. Evil Twin Brewing IPA Kolata
This balanced, New England pineapple and coconut lactose IPA is dominated by a juicy pineapple aroma, a strong lactose presence on the tongue and a hint of toasted coconut on the back palate.
Four-pack: $13.75 at Craft Beer Cellar

4. Grimm Artisanal Ales Apricot Pop!
One of many in Grimm’s dessert Berliner series, this tart wheat exudes a vibrant acidity and juicy stone fruit character that blend exceptionally well with the creamy palate produced by lactose and vanilla.
22-ounce bottle: $12 at Saint Louis Hop Shop

5. Narrow Gauge Brewing Co. Big T
Be on the lookout for Narrow Gauge’s first milkshake IPA, which has yet to see a keg. The beer will include the addition of cookies, cacao nibs and vanilla beans along with lactose for an IPA that will no doubt win a special place in the hearts of the NEIPA fan club.
On draft (when available) at Narrow Gauge Brewing Co. 

6. Third Wheel Brewing Dyslexic API
There’s nothing backward about this beauty, featuring heavy-hitting mandarin orange and tropical fruit aromatics and a medium-bodied texture that pulls through the palate with a balancing dose of bubble gum-y sweetness.
On draft at Third Wheel Brewing

Katie Herrera is a longtime contributor to Sauce Magazine, account manager at Craft Republic and director of beer at STL Barkeep. 

Tags : Beer