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Lactose and Dextrine

Looking to gain some insight from the experts online here…

1.) Lactose - A milk-based sugar that is not fully fermentable by beer yeast.

  • Is this the primary way to make Sweet Beers? (yeast eats everything else)
  • e.g. Dragon’s Milk Clone (High Alcohol, sweet beer)

2.) Dextrine (e.g Carapils) - used to increase foam, head retention, sweetness, and body.

  • Is this stuff used a lot and when? Dextrine is also used to make glue (Wiki)…, any bad side effects?
  • Have read not to use more than .5 lbs in a 5 gallon batch else it affects the taste.

Really, multiple things will lead to perceived sweetness. Namely:

  1. adding lactose
  2. using crystal malts
  3. using dextrine malts
  4. higher mash temp
  5. using a yeast with lower attenuation
  6. lower hopping rates

Lactose will add sweetness but it’s not the “sweet” you think. Not like sugar, but like… well, milk.

For a sweeter beer I would use a combination of dextrine malt and crystal malts at a higher mash temp. I would also try to use a judicious level of hopping.


I forgot my thoughts on this. First, you can’t go by a determined amount per 5 gal batch. Your better off going by percentage. For example 1/2lb in a 10lb grist is 5%. Yet 1/2lb in a 5lb grist is 10%.

Carapils says 5%, carafoam says 40% max. I don’t think I would ever go near as high as 40%!

  1. Lactose does what you say.

  2. Carapils does not. It is worthless.

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Thanks guys,
Great feedback!!!

Just to clarify, you’re saying Carapils won’t help with head retention and body Dave, or just the perceived sweetness aspects, or all the above?

Just to add to what some of the other folks have already said, the sweetness you get from a beer like Dragon’s Milk doesn’t come from lactose. Lactose gives you a heavy mouthfeel and a bit of sweetness, but not sugary sweet. To me it’s mostly the mouthfeel. But ethanol by itself is sweet, at least to some people. Once you get upwards of 10% ABV, it starts to get more noticeable. Add to that a bunch of caramel or crystal malts and a high mash temperature, and that’s how you get to a sweeter high-alcohol beer without the flabbiness of lactose.

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Here’s a little light reading:

Caramel hops…I don’t know if I should be excited or depressed.

I get your comments now, thanks. I’ve never thought of them much other than helping with head retention which Mr. Janish alludes to anyway. Damn brewing… always gottta learn stuff! :joy:

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