Homebrew Session: Christmas Milk Stout

Ah… the holidays! Most people stress out this time of the year. There are family gatherings to plan for, meals to be cooked and, of course, presents to shop for. As my siblings and cousins start to have children of their own, Christmas ultimately shifts from giving gifts to each other to giving gifts for the children. As it should be. But I can’t be a Grinch and not give anyone anything. So instead of fighting the crowds at the big box stores and the malls, Mrs. BetterBeerBlog and I have decided to give our friends and family presents of our own making. Naturally, people are getting craft beer from us.

2009 Christmas beers from BetterBeerBlog.

2009 Christmas beers from BetterBeerBlog.

The last time I gave out homebrew as a present was two years ago. I went all out and brewed up 2 different beers so folks could choose. One beer was a Belgian-style dubbel brewed with figs harvested from a friend’s house and the other was a Russian Imperial Stout. This year, I’m brewing up a milk stout. A milk stout is a stout that’s been brewed with lactose, that’s where the “milk” comes from. Also known as a sweet stout, this is a beer that is sometimes compared with sweetened espresso. This is a beer that has always received good reviews and I get constantly bugged about when I’m brewing it next. It took me a while but I’ve finally gotten around to brewing it. Merry Christmas!



  • 6 lbs – Coopers Light Dry Malt Extract (DME)

Specialty Grains:

  • 1 lbs – Bamburg Munich (6L)
  • 1 lbs – Flaked Barley
  • 1 lbs – Simpson Crystal (35L)
  • .5 lbs – Simpson Roast (600L)
  • .5 lbs – Simpson Chocolate (450L)


  • .5 oz – Nugget (12.2) bittering
  • 1 oz – Kent Goldings (7.2) flavor


  • 2L – Yeast starter of English Ale Yeast (WLP500)


  • 8 oz – Lactose powder

Original Gravity: 1.080


  1. Steep all grains for 60 minues at 155° F.
  2. Remove grains. Bring to a boil, add .5 oz Nugget hops for bittering.
  3. At 30 minute mark, add 6 lbs Coopers Light DME.
  4. At 40 minute mark, add in wort chiller to sanitize in boil.
  5. At 45 minute mark, 8 oz Lactose powder.
  6. At 57 minute mark, add 1 oz Kent Goldings hops.
  7. Flame out, chill to 65° F – 70° F.
  8. Pitch yeast starter and aerate.

Tasting Notes (wort) — 11/16/11

Opaque, very dark brown in color, nearly black. No head, some hop particulate matter floating about. Aroma is sweet with a noticeable black coffee note and deep roast character. Flavor is very sweet and reminiscent of roasty molasses. Hop bitterness seems medium-low and clings to the palate. Full bodied, cloying, no carbonation and a viscous mouthfeel.

Brewer’s Notes

As I sit here and type this recipe out, I can hear this beer bubbling away. The yeast starter allowed the beer to kick into full krausen in only a few hours. If you compare this beer with a milk stout I brewed previously, you’ll notice that I used different specialty grains and hops. The homebrew shop I go to carries different specialty grains now and they were out of the Magnum hops I usually like to use for bittering so I substituted them with Nugget hops, which have a slightly lower alpha acid but I think will be comparable in the end.

With an original gravity of 1.080, this is shaping up to be a bigger beer than is normal for the style. But since this will be my Christmas beer, having a higher than average alcohol by volume fits in with all the other winter warmers now hitting the shelves.

If all goes well, this beer should be ready to go in about a month, just in time to hand out before Christmas. Once ready, I’ll do a review in a follow up post. If you’ve brewed milk stouts before, I’d like to hear about what you thought of the final product in relation to the recipe you have. In particular, I want to know if you thought you added enough lactose. I’ve been pretty happy with an 8 oz addition but I’ve seen some recipes call for 3 times as much.


This entry was posted in Homebrew and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Homebrew Session: Christmas Milk Stout

  1. Steve Cooley says:

    Did you use the estate grown hops?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>