Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Never Thought It Would Matter If You Were Lactose Intolerant Did You?

Are you lactose intolerant? Never fear, much of the world is, too (about 60%). According to a 2005 study from Cornell University, tolerance for lactose (the sugars in milk) was developed where dairy herds could be raised safely (e.g., most of Europe). They found that in places that are cow-unfriendly, such as hot and dry climates in Africa and Asia that lactose intolerance was found in up to 100% of the population (e.g., Zambia).
According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, some 30 million to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant, including up to 75 percent of African Americans and American Indians and 90 percent of Asian Americans. Common symptoms include nausea, cramps, bloating, gas and diarrhea that begin about 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking foods containing the milk sugar lactose. The use of lactase enzyme tablets or drops or lactose-reduced milk and similar products can help the lactose intolerant digest dairy products. citation.
So, if you are African American, Asian American, or American Indian there is a very good chance that you are lactose intolerant.

Ummm...what does this have to do with beer? I'm glad you asked.

Milk Stouts.

"What," you say, "in the heck is a 'milk stout'?"

The beer is not brewed with milk, nor is it blended with milk (unlike Laverne De Fazio's drink of choice). Rather milk sugar, technically referred to as "lactose" is added before the beer is left to ferment. Lactose, as a sugar, is not fermentable by brewing yeast. However, it does impart a full body and smooth, sweet quality to the beer. And, it adds an ingredient to the beer that makes about 60% of the world, 75% of African Americans, 75% of American Indians and 90% of Asian Americans very, very uncomfortable.

In fact, brewers in the UK now call this style of beer "sweet stout" (regulations in the UK prevent the use of "milk" in name of the drink because it was deemed misleading). The BJCP (Beer Judging Certification Program) Guidelines adopt this British-ism for Style 13B to describe a low-hopped, roasty, coffeeish, sweet full-bodied ale. To quote the BJCP: "Often tastes like sweetened espresso." For such a "heavy" beer, these are often moderately low alcohol, typically in the 4-6% ABV range.

So, be careful those of you who are lactose intolerant; stay away from the "milk" or "sweet" stouts. Unfortunately, that means you can't have Lake Louie's Milk Stout (BA.RB.):

Appearance: a deep black walnut coloring with very little head but a few thin tan wisps; the beer pours thick, but not oily
Aroma: nutty with a compelling toffee-like sweetness, the underlying roasted coffee aromas are subtle but firm
Flavor: like eating chocolate covered coffee beans; while the front is roasted and malty, the smooth sweetness comes on quickly and turns the flavor into milk chocolate; the finish is a faint burnt coffee bitterness; the finish is clean and the palate clears between sips
Body: smooth and soft, this medium bodied stout isn't quite as thick as one might expect; the flavors cling to the inside of the mouth, but do not overstay their welcome
Drinkability: the medium body makes this an easy beer to drink if you like coffee, except without the caffeine.
Summary: while not for the lactose intolerant (no, you can't order it with soy), the flavors are bold and assertive, but approachable in a different sort of stout, a great addition to the Lake Louie lineup.


  1. Handy to know! This is one of those things I never bothered to look up.

  2. 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!


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