The Sweet Side of Beer: Lactose Beers

Lactose , also known as milk beer, has gained popularity in recent years among beer enthusiasts. This unique style of beer incorporates lactose, a sugar derived from milk, to create a sweeter flavor profile and a creamy mouthfeel. While lactose is not fermentable, meaning it does not convert to during the process like other sugars, it remains in the finished beer, adding a distinct sweetness.

The use of lactose in beer is most commonly associated with stouts, where its natural sweetness complements the and chocolate notes. The addition of lactose can enhance the richness and depth of flavor in these dark, robust beers. However, in recent times, lactose has found its way into other beer styles as well, including Juicy/Hazy IPAs. In these styles, lactose can contribute to a fruit or milkshake-like quality, creating a unique and indulgent drinking experience.

For those with lactose intolerance, it is important to be aware of beers brewed with lactose. While most sugars are converted to alcohol during the brewing process, lactose remains intact. As a result, lactose beer can cause discomfort and digestive issues for individuals who are lactose intolerant. It is advisable to avoid these beers if you have lactose intolerance or any sensitivity to dairy products.

Determining the exact amount of lactose in a beer can be challenging. Typically, lactose makes up around 3% to 5% of the beer's composition, with an average of 3%. Brewers may vary the amount of lactose used depending on the desired sweetness and mouthfeel. It is important to note that lactose content may not always be explicitly stated on the beer label, so it is best to consult with the brewer or brewery if you have specific concerns or dietary restrictions.

Lactose beer offers a unique and indulgent drinking experience for those who enjoy sweeter, creamier flavors in their brews. However, individuals with lactose intolerance should exercise caution when consuming these beers, as they may cause digestive discomfort. It is always advisable to check with the brewer or brewery for information on lactose content if you have specific dietary needs or concerns.

lactose beer 1694526679

How Is Lactose Beer Made?

Lactose beer, also known as milk or sweet stout, is made by incorporating lactose, a type of sugar derived from milk, into the beer-making process. The addition of lactose provides unique characteristics to the beer, including added sweetness and a creamy mouthfeel.

Here is a detailed explanation of how lactose beer is made:

1. Brewing Process: The beer-making process begins with the brewing of the base beer. This involves mashing malted barley with hot to extract sugars, which will later be fermented by . The specific recipe for the base beer may vary depending on the desired flavor and style.

2. Lactose Addition: After the base beer has been brewed and cooled, lactose is added to the beer. Lactose is a non-fermentable sugar, which means that it will not be converted into alcohol during fermentation. This distinguishes lactose beer from other types of beer, where most sugars are converted into alcohol.

3. Sweetness and Creamy Mouthfeel: The addition of lactose to the beer provides a noticeable sweetness. This sweetness is not fermented, so it remains in the finished beer, contributing to its overall flavor profile. Additionally, the lactose imparts a creamy mouthfeel, giving the beer a smooth and velvety texture.

4. Fermentation and Aging: After the lactose has been added, the beer is fermented with yeast. The yeast consumes the fermentable sugars from the malted barley, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. However, the lactose remains unaffected by the yeast, maintaining its sweetness and creamy characteristics.

5. Carbonation: Once fermentation is complete, the beer is typically carbonated. This can be achieved through natural carbonation, where a small amount of sugar is added to the beer to create carbonation during bottle conditioning, or through forced carbonation using carbon dioxide gas.

6. Packaging: the lactose beer is packaged in bottles, cans, or kegs, ready to be enjoyed by beer enthusiasts. It is important to note that lactose beers may have a shorter shelf life compared to other types of beer due to the residual sweetness, so they are often best enjoyed fresh.

Lactose beer is made by incorporating lactose, a non-fermentable sugar derived from milk, into the beer-making process. The lactose adds sweetness and a creamy mouthfeel to the finished beer, resulting in a unique and flavorful .

How Much Lactose Is In Beer?

Determining the exact amount of lactose present in beer can be challenging. Typically, if lactose is used in the brewing process, it accounts for approximately 3% to 5% of the beer, with 3% being the more common value. It's important to note that lactose is not a standard ingredient in beer production and is primarily used in certain styles like milk stouts or cream ales to add sweetness and body. The specific lactose content can vary depending on the brewing recipe and techniques employed by the brewer.


Lactose beer is a unique and increasingly popular style that adds sweetness and a creamy mouthfeel to various beer styles. Primarily used in stouts, lactose can also be found in Juicy/Hazy IPAs, giving them a fruit juice or milkshake quality. However, for individuals with lactose intolerance, it is important to avoid beers brewed with milk sugar, as lactose remains unfermented in the finished product. The exact amount of lactose in the beer can vary, typically ranging from 3% to 5%, with an average of around 3%. This makes it challenging to determine the precise gastronomical effects and potential consequences for those with lactose intolerance. Therefore, it is advisable for individuals with lactose intolerance to exercise caution and opt for lactose-free beer options to ensure they can enjoy their beer without any discomfort.

Photo of author

Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.