Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Lactose in Beer?

I'm often asked about lactose in the oddest places. And then when I do the research it turns out the places aren't so odd.

Take beer. Once upon a time brewers used to make "milk stout," by adding whey (the lactose-containing portion of milk) to the barley. The yeast used in beer doesn't ferment the lactose (unlike some of the beasties that live in your colon) so instead of sour lactic acid, you keep a sugary taste. Milk stout was a milder form of beer and also thought to be more nutritious than the regular ales, so good that it was given to nursing mothers to fortify them.

Some people say that you can't call a beer milk stout in the United States these days, but the beers are still being made - using pure lactose rather than whey - both here and in other countries. A list of American milk stouts and other types of sweet stouts can be found at the Beer Advocate site.

Now the answer you've all been waiting for. How much lactose is left in the beer? You won't be surprised to learn that it varies too much with the recipe for a definitive answer. I did a calculation from one recipe and found that it resulted in about half as much lactose as a glass of milk. Other sources say, however, that the lactose content is small for some milk stouts. If you drink for flavor and not a buzz the lactose shouldn't be a problem.

Bookmark and Share


Anonymous said...

I recently purchased some Pumpkin Ale and enjoyed one each night for a week, at the end of the week I encountered sever problems - the kind I got from eating cheese and ice cream. Oddly enough while dealing with the problem I read that the new Pumpkin Ales where out and how they were made. They have lactose as an ingredient! I now fear beer! I wish I had know lactose was in beer, and it is just as bad as eating cheese!

Anonymous said...

lactose in beer (homebrew for sure) makes for a creamy head and great body. I wouldn't make a breakfast stout without it! :)

Anonymous said...

a stout without lactose is not a stout! Lactose leaves a creamy head and a great body to any homebrew stout. I wouldn't ever brew my breakfast stout without it!

Anonymous said...

"a stout without lactose is not a stout!"

Hmmm.. most stouts do not use lactose. Guinness does not! I never put it in any of my stouts (except a milk stout) for the decade of brewing prior to becoming lactose intolerant, and never have put it in any after.

Flaked barley (or even oatmeal) gives your stout good body and head. Low carbonation and a nitro tap is what REALLY gives stuff like guinness the mouthfeel and head that you are thinking of.

Unknown said...

You'll be okay so long as you stick to pils and euro lagers like Heineken and Becks