The name for Milk Stout or Sweet Stout, also sometimes called Cream Stout, refers to the use of milk sugar in the brewing process. Lactose, an unfermentable sugar/dextrin, adds residual sweetness and body to the beer. The lactose is a low percentage of the grist, and it amounts to a very small fraction of the lactose found in a glass of milk, so consuming a Milk Stout or Cream Stout is generally not an issue for the lactose-intolerant.
This stout style originated during England’s Victorian era and was favored by those who didn’t like dry, astringent, roasty Irish Stouts. Some breweries touted the beer as having the health benefits found in milk. After World War II and the subsequent food shortages in Britain, the government forced breweries to halt such claims and remove the words “milk” or “cream” from labels, as they could mislead people into thinking the beer actually contained milk. With this, the Sweet Stout moniker took hold. However, no such naming restrictions apply in the United States, and examples of the style are available bearing any one or a combination of these names.
With a deep-brown-to-black body and a creamy tan head, Milk/Sweet Stouts are sweeter than dry stouts and, usually, Oatmeal Stouts. Dark roasted grains provide the color and Stout-like chocolate, coffee and caramel aroma and flavor, while a balancing sweetness from the lactose ranges from moderate to high across examples, with moderate hop bitterness rounding out the mix. The mouth-feel is generally creamy, silky and full. These can be great dessert beers.
Characteristics: Malty, sweet, chocolaty, caramel, full-bodied
ABV range: 4-7% IBU: 15-35
Popular Milk/Sweet Stout-style beer brands: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, St. Peter’s Cream Stout, Left Hand Milk Stout, Lancaster Milk Stout, Samuel Adams Cream Stout, The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout, Williamsburg AleWerks Coffeehouse Stout Serving Temperature: Cool, 46-54°
Cheese Pairing Ideas: Brie, Camembert, Cheddar (aged), Goat Cheese (Chevrè), Swiss Cheese Food Pairing Ideas: Beef barbecue, spicy Asian dishes, chocolate cake and other desserts