IPAs with Lactic Sugars

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by SummitSeries72, Oct 1, 2019.

  1. SummitSeries72

    SummitSeries72 Initiate (114) Mar 17, 2011 New Jersey

    A guy tending bar at a very good craft beer in NYC recently told me that the latest rage is IPAs made with lactic sugars. In his own words, he said they were amazing. Unfortunately, he had none tapped the day I was there. I'm curious to know for regular IPA imbibers what you thought. Are the IPAs with lactic sugars an upgrade or improvement on/over traditional IPAs? Also, are they classified differently in terms of style. For example, if I wanted to see the top rated IPAs with lactic sugars, how would I execute such a search on BA?
  2. matthewp

    matthewp Initiate (184) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    Milkshake IPA's, rage might be the right term and will likely produce some rage posts very shortly... :wink:
  3. SummitSeries72

    SummitSeries72 Initiate (114) Mar 17, 2011 New Jersey

    Have you tried any? I gather you didn't like?
  4. Daveshek28

    Daveshek28 Initiate (186) Nov 10, 2015 New York

    Please stop making IPA's with lactose. That is all.
  5. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,792) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    I had a few and they were ok. I don't care either way if they include it, bottom line for me is taste. If its a good beer I will drink it regardless. At the end of the day I don't seek them out or feel they are superior, least from what I had to date.
  6. JTW10

    JTW10 Initiate (45) Nov 25, 2013 Pennsylvania

    They are the “has science gone too far?” of beer. In Philly they are just yet another way to price gouge people on half-assed beer. If people like them, fine, but they are priced as if combining things that don’t go together, don’t reflect the label, and really create a shit beer somehow warrants a higher cost. My rant was longer, but I realize taste is subjective. They really are terrible though.
  7. jasonmason

    jasonmason Initiate (179) Oct 6, 2004 California

    No, they are not.

    I will never understand the desire to merge the sweetness of lactose with the taste profile of IPA. I have never once seen a lacto-IPA stand on it's own; it's always done as part of a murky/milkshake IPA. The entire point of these beers seems to be to mask the taste profile of IPA...at which point I don't understand why they just don't use a pale or blonde ale.
  8. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,792) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    Agree, they are attempting to tamp down the bitterness and give it a smoother edge.
    Purp1eOne likes this.
  9. SudsDoctor

    SudsDoctor Zealot (561) Nov 23, 2008 New York

    Purely speculation on my part, but I think lactose is being used as a quicker, cheaper alternative to bumping up the malt bill in order to balance the massive hop load used in so many of these NEIPAs (milkshake or not).
  10. Ranbot

    Ranbot Champion (875) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Brewers can add lactose (milk sugar) to any beer to make it sweeter and make the mouthfeel/texture thicker. If that's what you want, then it's an improvement, and let's face it most people like sweet things. There are many out-spoken critics against the practice around here though. I don't personally like them. Also, if you're lactose intolerant you won't be too happy about it being in your beer.

    Most sugars are broken down by brewer's yeast into alcohol during fermentation, but lactose is not easily broken down by yeast, so it persists through fermentation and makes a sweeter, thicker end beer. Brewers have been doing this for 100+ years with the milk stout style, but adding lactose to IPAs is a relatively new thing. Also if you see an American craft beer that is supposed to taste like a dessert item (there are lots of them) it's usually a good bet there is lactose in it.
    AZBeerDude72 likes this.
  11. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (599) Mar 28, 2009 California

    If you prefer sweeter and creamier then it’s good. Personally I prefer my IPAs crisper, drier and with some bitterness. On occasion an ipa with lactose and fruit is good for a switch up beer but too sweet for me to drink many or make it a purchase very often.
    #11 GetMeAnIPA, Oct 1, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
    readyski, Purp1eOne, RyanK252 and 5 others like this.
  12. Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse

    Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse Disciple (327) Jul 20, 2016 Indiana

    I’ve never had one I liked. I’ve ordered a beer multiple times not realizing there was lactose in it, hated it, then looked it up and found out lactose was added.

    Not just gross. Undrinkable. I’ve finished maybe two IPAs with lactose, and it was a struggle both times. The rest I’ve not even been able to finish.

    Honestly, around here, you’re better off not ordering anything advertised as a hazy IPA if you want to avoid lactose. Really ruined the style for me.
  13. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,938) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    I personally don’t care for them, Made double worse when they add mango or strawberries, etc, to the mix.
  14. Hoos78

    Hoos78 Aspirant (252) Mar 3, 2015 Ohio

    Half Acre Now and Then is an example of a Lactose IPA that is neither a NEIPA or a Milkshake IPA. The lactose does contribute to mouthfeel and overall sweetness, but they are not going for a smoothie-like character.
  15. Eddiehop

    Eddiehop Zealot (567) Jun 28, 2014 Texas

    I'm not a fan of lactose in general and definitely dont want that shit in my beer.
    dukeandduke and thesherrybomber like this.
  16. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Defender (616) May 29, 2011 Florida

    Not lactic sugar... never heard of that.

    Lactose is milk sugar.
    Or lactic acid is tartness produced by lactic acid producing bacteria (most notably lactobacillus).

    Milkshake IPA I don’t think is separated out on here... it is on Untappd though. It’s used to add sweetness and make the IPA taste more like a fruit smoothie than a traditional IPA. These milkshake IPA are usually also treated with additions of vanilla bean and fruit purée.
  17. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Poo-Bah (1,727) Sep 15, 2014 New York

    IPAs with lactose is all the rage right now because craft beer culture has largely gravitated towards sweeter, more dessert-like beers.

    I will admit that I have had a few IPAs with lactose that I did greatly enjoy, but honestly, only maybe two of them I felt actually benefited from having it. Most of the time I think it's unnecessary at best. You want your IPA sweeter? Fine. Use crystal or honey malts like many of the classic West Coast IPAs use and it'll be plenty sweet enough. All that excess unfermentable sugar tends to become cloying to me. So I guess my advice is, if you like your beer sweet, go for it--but if you're like me and don't like cloying beer, generally stay away from it unless you just want to try sips and samples.
  18. Giantspace

    Giantspace Crusader (721) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I’ve had one lactose IPA and it also had peach and vanilla. It’s part of a glitter series but I don’t think it had glitter in it. I thought it was good but not something I could drink often. It wreaked havoc on my stomach the next day.

    JediMasterLenin likes this.
  19. SummitSeries72

    SummitSeries72 Initiate (114) Mar 17, 2011 New Jersey

    Thanks for a great answer. Have you had any of the Milkshake IPAs and do you like them?
  20. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,065) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    They are their own types of beers altogether. I’d never grab a milkshake IPA if I were looking for a classic hoppy IPA. IMO, milkshake/lactose IPAs shouldn’t even have the “IPA” moniker in the name. Just call them what they are: American Strong Ales

    That being said, there’s a can of Barrier pumpkin milkshake IPA w/ coconut & vanilla bean in my fridge that sounds pretty damn tasty....
    Elfastball7 likes this.
  21. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Defender (616) May 29, 2011 Florida

    I’ve had a few but not really a fan of them tbh. Too sweet/full and not refreshing... hard to get through a pint. Much rather a nicely executed hazy pale ale or ipa. Cheers!
  22. carolinabeerguy

    carolinabeerguy Savant (941) Oct 10, 2005 North Carolina

    Burial is making a lot of their recent hazy DIPAs with lactose and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them. They don’t come across as overly sweet. The lactose seems to add a soft, creaminess that I’m loving.

    *These are not milkshake IPAs and contain no fruit.
    nc41 likes this.
  23. thedaveofbeer

    thedaveofbeer Initiate (179) Mar 25, 2016 Massachusetts

    If you really want to try some IPAs with lactose, I suggest heading to Other Half Brewing. They are probably the closest House of Tose near you and probably do the style better than most. Personally, I prefer oats over lactose to create a silkier feel to an IPA, but both are unnecessary.
    Elfastball7, tobelerone and tinoynk like this.
  24. matthewp

    matthewp Initiate (184) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    My response was more of a joke since generally Milkshake IPA's are hated more than NEIPA's and desert stouts combined.

    That being said, I have tried a few and haven't loved them. They've been around for a while now but I wouldn't say they are the rage. More like most breweries are trying their hand at them just like the Brut IPA's were for a while. Tired Hands was probably one of the first to go there. I think there's room for all beer styles but I think the Milkshake IPA is more of a manufactured hype than true hype.
  25. Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse

    Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse Disciple (327) Jul 20, 2016 Indiana

    I hope you’re right. Unfortunately, I don’t think the same applies to pastry stouts and sours filled with unfermented fruit. The hype seems very real there.
    matthewp likes this.
  26. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Defender (664) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    IPAs with lactose aren't anything new. What's happening with lactose in the past compared to now is kind of like the difference between seasoning a steak and using bbq sauce. One subtly brings out the flavor of what is already there the other basically overpowers the flavor of what is already there. 3 Floyds Apocalypse Cow is a DIPA that has added lactose. It's been around for over 10 years. This is what I would refer to as a style of IPA with lactose. Like seasoning a steak, they add a little bit to round out the flavor and are supposed to be in the background. What we have been seeing the past few years are like the BBQ sauce of beers- NEIPAs and Milkshake IPAs that put in truckloads of lactose and that becomes one of the focal flavor points and for added body.
    Like any beer the best of the style will have you coming back for more and the worst will have you thinking you hate the style...I have yet to have a milkshake IPA I like.
    mambossa and Coronaeus like this.
  27. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Aspirant (225) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    I've only had a couple (always game to try something new), and I liked it. Not a style I'm down for all the time and definitely not my preferred style of IPA, but I liked the creaminess and full bodied feel that it had. My only issue is they tend to be hella expensive, but what isn't these days?

    JA_26 likes this.
  28. tinoynk

    tinoynk Initiate (86) Sep 25, 2010 New York

    The only lactose NEIPA that I can wholeheartedly recommend would be from Other Half. A ton of their beers use it, but it's almost always very subtle, and just thickens up the mouthfeel a bit, without translating to any kind of noticeable additional sweetness. In their case, I don't really think that lactose addition makes a massive difference.

    A lot of people here have been talking about "milkshake IPA," but to me a beer needs to have vanilla in addition to the lactose to qualify, and it's the vanilla that makes many of that style sickeningly sweet, at least to me.
    tobelerone and chipawayboy like this.
  29. Ranbot

    Ranbot Champion (875) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Keep in mind that while many folks here very vocal about how much they dislike this lactose IPA trend, these beers are still selling like crazy. Take our opinions with a grain of salt, because they don't always reflect the larger population of craft beer consumers. We are a niche within a niche.
    You can't really do that on this website. Someone mentioned above that Untappd let you search by "milkshake" IPAs. Probably the easiest thing for you do to is go to your local beer store and scan the IPA shelf for labels that say "lactose" or "milkshake" on them. Grab a few, and try them to an idea what the style is going for. If you like them, then dive into the game of finding the "top-rated" ones.
    surfcaster likes this.
  30. matthewp

    matthewp Initiate (184) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    Are they really selling like crazy? I certainly don't see many at my local craft beer stores, a few but not a ton. Most of the breweries around here do them once in a while but not consistently and a few have never done any. I was in down town New York a few weeks back and went to several beer bars, don't recall seeing many beers with lactose. It seems like its still kind of a novelty. When they are released they might sell quickly but I still don't feel like the demand is all that high. I feel like you kind of have to go out of your way to really get one unlike NEIPA's that are everywhere.
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  31. JA_26

    JA_26 Initiate (129) Feb 4, 2019 Pennsylvania

    This article is a little dated but I think does a pretty good job of explaining what milkshake IPAs are and are not. https://vinepair.com/articles/milkshake-ipa-guide/ (Funny though that the first paragraph refers to HopHands as a milkshake IPA, which is not the case).

    For what it's worth I've had lots of Tired Hands milkshakes and liked most of them - I think it's hard to find a brewery that does a better job with the style. It's not a style that you'd want to sit and drink several in a row (at least I wouldn't), but they are popular for a reason - they taste great. (I also totally agree with alucard that they are pricey.)
    alucard6679 likes this.
  32. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,561) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    As @Ranbot said, you can't do that on BA.

    However, you can do that here.
  33. Ranbot

    Ranbot Champion (875) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    There are still lines down the streets at places like Tired Hands and Other Half for their milkshake releases, social media is blowing up with IPAs named after desserts and candy, and my local distributors sell lots of these, so yeah I'd say these beers are selling very well... not to folks like you or I, of course, but we are not average consumers.
  34. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (4,343) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    I enjoy some of them, but I wouldn't call them an improvement.

    There isn't a great option for searching for them by style. Many of them fall under New England IPA; more fall under American IPA. There isn't a sub-category for lactose IPA, milkshake IPA, sour IPA, or anything similar (just as there isn't a sub-category for oatmeal IPA).

    My opinion? Sometimes lactose and/or oats are added to an IPA as a kind of shortcut to emulating the New England IPA style. Those are, by definition, unnecessary (although they can still be good if you like the style). Others are over the top sweet bombs, often with fruit added (again, milkshake IPAs). Those don't really have a precedent (IPA + lactose + fruit), and are therefore more innovative; whether or not you enjoy it really comes down to personal preference (obviously). Nothing about that kind of beer is inherently "bad" ... but I agree with a previous poster that the sweeter and thicker you make it, the farther away it steps from being anything recognizable as an IPA.
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  35. mambossa

    mambossa Disciple (388) Jun 30, 2015 Ohio

    the latest rage? Where the hell’s this bartender been for the past 3 years?
  36. chipawayboy

    chipawayboy Devotee (435) Oct 26, 2007 Massachusetts

    totally agree -- I've had a few other half lactose IPAs and was pleasantly surprised at how good they were -- subtle application of the lactose is key I think -- very small but noticeable flavor/mouthfeel impact.
  37. meefmoff

    meefmoff Devotee (417) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts

    I think you're right, but I don't think the subset of folks waiting in lines at a handful of breweries known for this style are average consumers either.
    matthewp likes this.
  38. surfcaster

    surfcaster Zealot (543) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina

    This is one style where I have not comprehended the demand. Perhaps just out of touch--not the first time--but even the tenor on this site is generally a negative tone. I have a hard time finding colleagues that really enjoy them--is it a trade/status thing? I am truly asking because struggling to find folks that like them.

    I do not.
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  39. tinoynk

    tinoynk Initiate (86) Sep 25, 2010 New York

    The article seems to harp on lactose being the primary feature of milkshakes, but I feel like people are conflating New England IPA that add some lactose with "true milkshakes," using vanilla, and that vanilla is what almost always what turns me off.

    Ultimately, the term milkshake IPA is made-up so it's splitting hairs, but the original Tired Hands/Omnipollo milkshakes that started the whole thing all have lactose+vanilla, and to me it's the vanilla that makes milkshake IPA totally different from NEIPA, and even NEIPA using lactose. I've seen a few examples of breweries billing an NEIPA with lactose as a milkshake, but if they're anything like stuff from Other Half, Burlington, Root+Branch, etc., it probably just tastes like an NEIPA, maybe a little thicker/smoother.
  40. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,938) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    Burial is one of the better brewers in the country imo, there’s a lot to be said for execution beyond the components. Brewers can use similar components and come up with completely different tasting beers. I generally hate Session IPAs, but Burials effort is the best on the market imo, to be fair their abv is a bit higher than most Session beers. Resident Culture NEIPAS imo are terrific, but there’s also a ton of the same that are terrible. Skill and execution by the Brewing team can count as much of more than ingredients. Burial is in that class, I’d put some of there beers up against any in the country, but funny enough Surf Wax doesn’t move me very much.
    carolinabeerguy likes this.