The sweet, or milk, stout is a very dark, sweet, rich, full-bodied stout that is loaded with roasty flavors. It is the perfect choice for someone who is looking for roasty, chocolatey, and coffee flavors, but not something dry and bitter like the Irish stout. The 2021 guidelines for this style of beer are below.
- Original Gravity: 1.044 – 1.060
- Final Gravity: 1.012 – 1.024
- Alcohol by Volume: 4.0% – 6.0%
- Bitterness: 20-40 IBU
- Color (SRM): 30-40
Sweet Stout Ingredients
The sweet stout has a surprisingly simple grain bill. The base malt is Maris Otter to build up a rich malty, nutty, biscuity base. With this, we add a dark crystal malt, pale chocolate malt, and a bitter-less black malt. The dark crystal adds a malty sweetness and roasty notes. The pale chocolate adds plenty of color, along with a nice chocolate and smooth coffee flavor. The black malt is also a color adjuster and adds a smooth, clean malty flavor.
For the sweet stout, use a British hop such as Fuggle or East Kent Goldings. You want a medium bitterness, but be careful not to add too many bittering hops. The roasted malts will add bitterness of their own, so you don’t want it to come off as harsh. I would keep it between 20 and 25 IBUs for your first batch, and make adjustments if needed in later iterations. You do not want any hop flavor or aroma, so there is no need to add any hop additions beyond a 60-minute addition.
For the sweet stout, you’ll want a strain that has slightly lower attenuation to help build up the body. The following are good choices.
- English Ale Yeast – WLP002 (White Labs)
- British Ale – 1098 (Wyeast)
Last but not least, the water. For all beers I brew, I use a reverse osmosis filtration system and build up my water profile from scratch. The roasted malts have an acidifying effect on the mash, so you will want to consider adding a pH buffer to keep the mash pH from dropping too low. You can do this with baking soda and/or pickling lime. I aimed for a mash pH of 5.4. My water profile looked like this:
- Calcium: 50 ppm
- Sodium: 33 ppm
- Sulfates: 35 ppm
- Chloride: 45 ppm
Sweet Stout Recipe
The following is a 5-gallon batch of a sweet stout. The numbers for this beer are included below.
- Original Gravity: 1.063
- Final Gravity: 1.012 – 1.024
- Alcohol by Volume: 5.5%
- Bitterness: 22.6 IBU
- Color (SRM): 35.9
- Maris Otter – 8 lbs (70.2%)
- Caramel/Crystal 80L – 1 lb (8.8%)
- Pale Chocolate Malt – 1 lb (8.8%)
- Blackprinz – 6.4 oz (3.5%)
You may notice that these percentages do not add up to 100%, and that is because we also add lactose to this style. The addition of lactose is why this style is commonly referred to as a milk stout. Lactose is unfermentable by brewers yeast and adds the expected sweetness to this style. We add 1 pound, or about 8% of the grain bill, of lactose in the last 15 minutes of the boil.
- 1.6 oz Fuggle at 60 minutes (22.6 IBUs)
English Ale Yeast – WLP002
Add your salts and pH buffer if needed, and fill your mash tun to the required volume and temperature for your mash to drop to 152 degrees Fahrenheit. For me, it was 163 degrees Fahrenheit at 3.25 gallons. After 60 minutes, raise your mash temperature to 168 degrees for mash out. After mashing out, begin to sparge until you reach a pre-boil gravity of around 1.055. For me, it was 4.75 gallons.
If you are using a higher attenuating strain, instead of mashing at 152 degrees, mash at 156 degrees for 40 minutes. This will produce more unfermentable sugars and help build up the body of the beer.
Boil the wort for 90 minutes. Add the hops at 60 minutes and the lactose at 15 minutes. At 10 minutes, I added yeast nutrients and at 5 minutes I added whirlfloc tablets as my clarifying agent. Once the boil is complete, whirlpool the wort for 10 minutes and then let it wind down for 10 minutes.
Knock the wort out in your heat exchanger so that the pitching temperature is 64 degrees and then measure the gravity/pitch the yeast. My initial gravity was 1.063. Keep the fermentation on the cooler side and ferment at 64 degrees. At warmer temperatures, more fruity esters will be produced. Once you are within 5 specific gravity points from your target FG, let the temperature free rise up to 72 degrees. After 48 hours, cold crash to 33 degrees and hold for another 48 hours. Once your cold crash is complete, transfer it to the brite tank and carbonate it to 2.2 vols. After 3 days in the brite tank, keg it and enjoy!
If you decide to try this recipe, or another sweet stout recipe, feel free to send us a comment and let us know how it went! And if you want to see more recipes like this, sign up for our newsletter below to be notified when a new post is released. Cheers!