Lactose Beers Third Wheel

Lactose beers at Third Wheel Brewing

Brewers have been working with lactose for years, but recently the milk sugar has found its way into styles beyond stout. Lactose doesn’t break down in the brewing process, resulting in beers with a creamy body and mouthfeel. Popular milkshake IPAs typically add fruit and vanilla to lactose, but brewers now use the sugar in a range of styles.

Third Wheel Brewing

Head brewer Abbey Spencer wouldn’t describe Third Wheel Brewing’s Dyslexic API as a milkshake IPA; the St. Peters, Missouri, brewery’s beer uses a lot less lactose, and there’s no fruit (or even fruity hops) added. Instead of giving the beer a thicker body, Spencer, who developed the recipe about eight years ago as a homebrewer, says the lactose rounds out the beer’s different characteristics. “It reminds me of salt for savory foods, where it kind of opens up some flavors and rounds the dish out a bit,” she says. “I find the lactose in this IPA softens everything. The hops really meld nicely into the malt and the lactose pushes that effect and gives it a fun, rolling mouthfeel with just a little extra creaminess to it.” This month, Third Wheel is also releasing its first true milkshake IPA on IPA Day (Aug. 2). Dubbed Singular Day 2.0, the beer will be a 7.5 percent ABV IPA with about 30 percent flaked grain, lactose and guava. “We make a different type of IPA every year that we release on IPA Day,” Spencer says. “It’s our opportunity to have fun and be trendy, since my styles tend to be more classic.”

Third Wheel Brewing, 4008 N. Service Road, St. Peters, Missouri, 636.323.9810,

Main & Mill Brewing Co.

Main & Mill Brewing Co. is no stranger to experimentation, but its Double White IPA – made with lactose and more than 140 hand-zested oranges – is unlike anything the Festus, Missouri, brewery has done before. Main & Mill uses lactose in all of its chocolate-peanut butter stouts and porters as well as a few sweet stouts, and recently started experimenting with the unfermentable sugar in IPAs, saisons and other styles. Co-owner and head brewer Denny Foster says the use of lactose goes hand in hand with the larger trend of balance in beer. “With New England IPAs going crazy, people are working away from bitterness in IPAs and other styles and moving toward that balance or even mildly sweet [flavor],” he says.

Main & Mill Brewing Co., 240 E. Main St., Festus, Missouri, 636.543.3031,

Colony KC

Colony KC head brewer Rodney Beagle uses lactose frequently at the brewery in North Kansas City, Missouri. “Not only does it lend a fuller mouthfeel to whatever style you choose to add it to, but also a tremendous, harmonious balance between certain combinations of fruit, hops, yeast and malt,” he says. Colony’s Rainbow Road series is inspired by Beagle’s love of fruited sour beers, and features lactose and vanilla bean. Originally a four-part series with raspberry, lime, orange and rainbow sherbet ales, the beers proved so popular that Colony has added more flavors. This year, look for coconut, pineapple and peach sherbet ales.

Colony KC, 312 N. Armour Road, North Kansas City, Missouri, 816. 800.4699,

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