Milk stout (also commonly known as sweet stout, and cream stout) hails from England rather than the traditional stout land of Ireland. Traditionally, a stout is dark. A stout tends to be the darkest of beers, with a rather thick hazelnut colored head. Stout generally has a bitter taste to it, and has a thick near syrup-like texture. Milk Stout varies in that it is much sweeter.

Although the name Milk Stout suggests that it is a bitter beer with milk or cream added, this is false. Purge that idea right away. The only people who complain about the milky taste in a milk stout are those who dislike the taste altogether and wish to blame it on sour milk.

The sweetness of the Milk Stout is derived from the addition of lactose during the brewing process. Lactose, a by-product of making cheese is also present in milk, thereby giving milk stout its name. In order to make a proper milk stout, the lactose is left out until the majority of the brewing is completed. Since lactose is not part of the fermenting process (as it does not ferment), it is added when the beer is kegged.

With its sweeter taste and rich body, milk stouts are often served as a “dessert beer.” Beer, much like wine, is tailored to the food being served, and as such a bitter drink does not set well with something sweet. Furthermore milk stout is commonly referred to as a breakfast beer for its companionship with common breakfast foods (the taste compliments eggs, and breakfast meats.)

I have tried two Milk stouts, each from local breweries. One I enjoyed thoroughly, the other not so much. I can't give a catch-all endorsement to milk stouts, nor can I say that they are all bad.

    A few examples:
  • Snow Plow Milk Stout - Colorado (tried, disliked)
  • Stoops Oatmeal Milk Stout - Gentle Ben's Brewing Company, Tucson AZ (tried, love)
  • Deep Sleep Milk Stout - Hudson Valley Brewing Company, Mohegan Lake, New York
  • Lancaster Milk Stout - Lancaster Brewing Co. , Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Mackeson's triple Stout - Whitbread, UK

The following is a recipe taken from http://cax.aers.psu.edu/halfmoon/HM/tr/milkstou.htm for making your own milk stout. Send any complaints and praise their way. Furthermore, this is entirely their recipe, not mine.

ingredients
6.5 lbs Klages Malt
8 oz. 80 L Crystal Malt
6 oz. Roasted Black Unmalted Barley
7 HBU Kent Goldings (45 minutes)
Wyeast London Ale yeast
12 oz. lactose, boiled for 10 minutes, added at kegging

method-infusion
Mash in with 2 1/2 gallons of 170 degree water, aiming for 152 degree strike temperature. Hold 2 hours for conversion.
Raise to 168 degrees for mashout. Hold 10 minutes.
Sparge with about 5 gallons of water.
Boil 1 1/2 hours. Add hops at 45 minutes.
Ferment at 65 degrees, rack to secondary, then age for several weeks (until curiousity gets the best of you).


sources:
http://www.diwinetaste.com/dwt/en2004117.php
http://www.digitalwinners.com/the_pub/beer/
http://weeklywire.com/ww/12-07-99/alibi_beerguy.html
http://cax.aers.psu.edu/halfmoon/HM/tr/milkstou.htm

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