What’s In a Style: Milk Stout (w/ Recipe)

February 7, 2018

2018, General posting

I love milk stouts. Seriously, I have a milk stout recipe for just about every occasion. Mint Chocolate, Chai, S’mores, I’ve got one for each season. The smooth, soft mouthfeel coupled with an assortment of roasted flavors, it’s this stout lover’s dream.

You should see the look of horror when I offer a milk stout to a non-brewing friend. Immediately their brains are filled with images of me standing over a giant pot of beer pouring whole milk into it like some kind of mad scientist. In fact, it was for reasons similar to this that the UK banned the use of the term “milk stout” and required breweries to relabel their beer as “sweet stout.” They felt the term milk mislead the public into thinking this was a dairy product.

While it may not be a dairy product, it does contain lactose sugar, which is derived from dairy. Lactose sugar is an unfermentable sugar added during the brewing process to increase body and your final gravity. Lactose intolerant beer drinkers beware!

A pound of milk sugar will increase the gravity of a typical 5-gallon batch by around 7 total points, so that is something you’ll want to consider when creating your recipe. If you include too specialty grains, mash too high, or add too much lactose sugar, and you may find your final gravity well higher than you expected, producing a potentially cloyingly sweet beer.  BJCP states the final gravity should land between 1.010 – 1.022, which is not much different from most standard stouts. For this reason, I’ll usually begin my lactose addition at around ½ pound, and if I find my final gravity is lower than 1.016 (actual or estimated by a recipe program), I’ll go ahead and add the other ½ pound.

For the base malt, standard 2-row or Maris Otter will work here. I find the Maris Otter provides a nice biscuit dimension that really works great in this English styled stout. When choosing your roasted malts, there are two ways you can go – coffee or chocolate. It really depends on what you are looking for in the final product. I like to use minimal roasted barley, as the astringency can really be pronounced, and focus more on the lighter colored roasted malts, such as pale chocolate, chocolate, or dark debittered malts such as Carafa III or Midnight Wheat. This will give you the flavor characteristics, without adding the unwanted roasted bitterness.

For the hops, we want to keep the bitterness in line with the ABV. Around 20 IBU for 4%, and 10 IBU for every 1% increase, maxing out at 40IBU for 6%.  This will help keep the sweetness in check, but still not take over the beer. Earthy, noble hops work very well for this style and don’t detract from the roasted malts.

You have a few options when it comes to yeast. I’ve had good results with a clean neutral yeast such as US-05, however my personal preference is to lean on the old country and use something like S-04 or WLP002 (English Ale) or WLP004 (Irish Ale).

As I mention earlier, the body and sweetness of this beer lends itself well to additions, whether you want to play it safe and use cold brew coffee or cacao nibs, or if you want to go further with spices, a milk stout is a great base to work with. I’ve previously posted my Chai Milk Stout recipe to this blog, and it’s still one of my favorite recipes. I recommend starting without any additions and mastering your base recipe. From here you can tweak it to fit your needs.

This my personal recipe for a Chocolate Milk Stout. It recently took first place in a competition and stood out from the others in the pack, since I relied heavily on the chocolate notes, while the others all went more coffee. It contains only basic brewing ingredients and requires no miscellaneous ingredients or special equipment.

Hoo-Yoo Chocolate Milk Stout

OG: 1.060
FG: 1.022
ABV: 5.0%
IBU: 29.9
SRM: 36
Batch Size: 5.5 Gallons
Mash: Single Temp. Infusion – 153°F for 60 min.

Grain Bill
8.8 lb. – Maris Otter
1.1 lb – Crystal 80L
1 lb – Flaked Oats
12 oz – Pale Chocolate Malt
5 oz – Midnight Wheat
4 oz – Roasted Barley
2 oz – Chocolate Malt
1 lb – Lactose Sugar (10 min left in boil)

1 oz – Willamette @ 60 min.
1 oz – Willamette @ 30 min.

Safale S-04 (Fermented @ 68°F)

Carbonate to around 2.0 vol. CO2

 Until next time, happy brewing!

stephenStephen Boyajian has been an avid homebrewer for 4 years. A fan of many styles, with a particular love for IPA’s and Stouts. He lives in Gainesville, VA with his wife, 3 kids and dog. When not brewing, he enjoys playing golf or playing guitar.


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2 Comments on “What’s In a Style: Milk Stout (w/ Recipe)”

  1. sheldon greenberg Says:

    Stephen Dobrowansky and I (part of the Prince William Brewers Guild) brewed a chocolate coffee milk stout that took first place (gold) in a recent BJCP sanctioned competition as well. It was less than 4.5% ABV and really smooth, creamy and delicious.


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