Author Topic: Lactose usage and alternatives?  (Read 5048 times)

Offline phillamb168

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Lactose usage and alternatives?
« on: June 15, 2011, 05:50:17 AM »
I'm doing a blueberry wheat for the 4th of July, and wanted to bring a bit of pie-ness to it. Figured maybe half a pound per five gallons added to the secondary with my blueberries, does that sound normal? I'll also add a bit of vanilla extract (maybe 1tsp).

Are there any alternatives to lactose out there that would have the same effect?
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Lactose usage and alternatives?
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2011, 12:33:50 PM »
Half a pound sounds about right for 5 gallons.  Maltodextrin can be used just like lactose; both are non-fermentable.
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Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Lactose usage and alternatives?
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2011, 11:20:44 PM »
Half a pound sounds about right for 5 gallons.  Maltodextrin can be used just like lactose; both are non-fermentable.

But maltodextrin gives a more malty profile and not as much overt sweetness, lactose gives a milky sweetness.

If you're worried about it, lactose in beer might cause troubles for people who are extremely sensitive to lactose. Maltodextrin just gives you beer farts (the bugs in your gut have a fiesta when they encounter it and produce lots of methane by way of thanks).

A third option is to use an artificial sweetener, like saccharine or sucralose. But, if you go with any of these sweeteners, you need to be really careful. In beer they can sometimes seem unpleasantly bitter or obviously artificial.

Another option, if you're kegging a beer for a one-off event, is add a bit of fermentable sweetener to the keg, keg just a day or two before the event and keep your keg cold until the party. That way, even if you do get secondary fermentation, it won't have time to go to completion and you can bleed off any CO2 that develops. That's a nice way to handle relatively delicate sugars, like subtly-flavored honey.

Personally, I'd use lactose, but I'd draw a beer sample and test adding various amounts of lactose to get the sweetness right. There might be enough residual sweetness in your beer that you don't want to overdo the sugar addition.

Offline phillamb168

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Re: Lactose usage and alternatives?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2011, 01:44:42 AM »
Half a pound sounds about right for 5 gallons.  Maltodextrin can be used just like lactose; both are non-fermentable.

But maltodextrin gives a more malty profile and not as much overt sweetness, lactose gives a milky sweetness.

If you're worried about it, lactose in beer might cause troubles for people who are extremely sensitive to lactose. Maltodextrin just gives you beer farts (the bugs in your gut have a fiesta when they encounter it and produce lots of methane by way of thanks).

A third option is to use an artificial sweetener, like saccharine or sucralose. But, if you go with any of these sweeteners, you need to be really careful. In beer they can sometimes seem unpleasantly bitter or obviously artificial.

Another option, if you're kegging a beer for a one-off event, is add a bit of fermentable sweetener to the keg, keg just a day or two before the event and keep your keg cold until the party. That way, even if you do get secondary fermentation, it won't have time to go to completion and you can bleed off any CO2 that develops. That's a nice way to handle relatively delicate sugars, like subtly-flavored honey.

Personally, I'd use lactose, but I'd draw a beer sample and test adding various amounts of lactose to get the sweetness right. There might be enough residual sweetness in your beer that you don't want to overdo the sugar addition.

Good info - although I'm not looking for sweetness per se. My whole reason for wanting lactose was that I heard it gives some vanilla notes on top of the sweetness, which is what I'm trying to achieve. Do the other sweeteners give those characteristics as well?
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Lactose usage and alternatives?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2011, 07:59:45 AM »
Good info - although I'm not looking for sweetness per se. My whole reason for wanting lactose was that I heard it gives some vanilla notes on top of the sweetness, which is what I'm trying to achieve. Do the other sweeteners give those characteristics as well?

have you thought about oak? that also gives some vanilla notes if used correctly.
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Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Lactose usage and alternatives?
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2011, 11:16:17 PM »
have you thought about oak? that also gives some vanilla notes if used correctly.

Vanilla notes from oak take months to develop, since they come from the reaction of lignins in the wood and high levels of alcohol to produce vanillin.

Since it's a blueberry wheat beer which has to be ready for the 4th of July, I can't imagine that oak-aging would give the effect needed in time.

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Lactose usage and alternatives?
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2011, 11:24:12 PM »
Good info - although I'm not looking for sweetness per se. My whole reason for wanting lactose was that I heard it gives some vanilla notes on top of the sweetness, which is what I'm trying to achieve. Do the other sweeteners give those characteristics as well?

My experience is that lactose just gives a slightly milky sweetness, rather than vanilla notes. Maltodextrin isn't going to give much flavor at all; more of a starchiness. As I wrote earlier, the other sweeteners are either fermentable or produce unpleasant bitter, chemical "artificial sweetener" notes.

For a beer which needs to be ready to go in just a few days, I'd suggest experimenting with natural vanilla flavor to get the effect you want. It's clear, sterile (if the vanilla was soaked in spirits) and is a small enough addition to your beer that once you "dial in" the concentration you want, you can just add it to the keg.

Personally, I think that adding vanilla to a fruit beer has the potential for being too much of a good thing, assuming you're wanting an easy-drinking summer beer for a party or picnic. I'd split the batch and keep some plain for folks who want a drier-tasting beer, some with vanilla for those who a sweeter flavor profile. YMMV.

Offline phillamb168

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Re: Lactose usage and alternatives?
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2011, 12:58:45 AM »
Good info - although I'm not looking for sweetness per se. My whole reason for wanting lactose was that I heard it gives some vanilla notes on top of the sweetness, which is what I'm trying to achieve. Do the other sweeteners give those characteristics as well?

My experience is that lactose just gives a slightly milky sweetness, rather than vanilla notes. Maltodextrin isn't going to give much flavor at all; more of a starchiness. As I wrote earlier, the other sweeteners are either fermentable or produce unpleasant bitter, chemical "artificial sweetener" notes.

For a beer which needs to be ready to go in just a few days, I'd suggest experimenting with natural vanilla flavor to get the effect you want. It's clear, sterile (if the vanilla was soaked in spirits) and is a small enough addition to your beer that once you "dial in" the concentration you want, you can just add it to the keg.

Personally, I think that adding vanilla to a fruit beer has the potential for being too much of a good thing, assuming you're wanting an easy-drinking summer beer for a party or picnic. I'd split the batch and keep some plain for folks who want a drier-tasting beer, some with vanilla for those who a sweeter flavor profile. YMMV.

This sounds like a plan. I'm doing a double batch, so I'll take some vanilla beans (right?) and throw 'em in some vodka (right?) for a week (right?) and then dump that in the secondary of one of the batches. Thanks!
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Lactose usage and alternatives?
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2011, 01:10:53 AM »
I'd use a small amount of vanilla Phil, to keep it as an accent rather than something clearly noticeable.

As for adding sweetness, many Belgian brewers use artificial sweeteners.  From my experience cooking, I've found that adding a blend of artificial sweeteners rather than just one adds some complexity and prevents the artificial quality of any one of them from standing out.  I got the idea from a cookbook and it worked well.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Lactose usage and alternatives?
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2011, 02:10:37 AM »
I'd use a small amount of vanilla Phil, to keep it as an accent rather than something clearly noticeable.

As for adding sweetness, many Belgian brewers use artificial sweeteners.  From my experience cooking, I've found that adding a blend of artificial sweeteners rather than just one adds some complexity and prevents the artificial quality of any one of them from standing out.  I got the idea from a cookbook and it worked well.

How much would be 'small?' I don't wanna screw it up because I won't have time to brew again. Could I just use vanilla extract?
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Lactose usage and alternatives?
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2011, 11:30:49 AM »
Yes, I would probably use extract since you get better control that way and I think you want it subtle enough that it will not be very extract-y tasting.  You can always make the extract yourself though.

It's hard to say how much without tasting the underlying beer.  I would just dose it in a glass until you like the flavor, dial it back 20%-30% and add it to the keg.  I dial it back because it is easier to add than remove, and after doing a bunch of taste tests your threshold is a bit higher.
Tom Schmidlin