View Full Version : Lactose--if a little is good...well then alot...

12-07-2009, 09:50 PM
do you ever here the post that start, "I have a friend.... "

well it really is a friend,

we pressed cider on an oldtime wooden screw press. Winesaps, Yorks and Stayman mixture. He has 4 1/2 gallons of cider straight from the press in a glass carboy, nothing else, was bubbling away fine after a few days at 70degrees or so. I saw it and it looked and smelt normal.

He wants to win his wife over to the brewing aspect so he thought about sweetening--and he wants to bottle to carbonate. I suggested Lactose as an idea. He goes to the local brew store, gets 3lbs and pulls out some must, boils and adds all 3 lbs....

any suggestions??

12-07-2009, 10:07 PM
It'll taste plenty sweet, and somewhat "thick," but who knows? It might just be what his wife likes in a cider!!??!!

I'd let it clear, age a bit, and then taste it to try to determine what, if anything, I'd try before carbonating it.

12-07-2009, 10:10 PM
I am not sure that will work out well. It certianly will be sweet. Lactose is a non-fermentable. That is it doesn't ferment. From what I had heard about Lactose it will make for a very creamy tasting cyser. Reading several beer recipies that are about 5 gallons use 1 pound of Lastose to make a Creamy beer. Very creamy mouth feel. I wouldn't go over a pound for 5 gallons. He may have trouble getting this to carbonate. Depending on the yeast he uses. Sounds like the cyser will ferment dry and the addition of the lactose will make it sweeter and provide a creamy feel to it but he may need to doctor it a bit to get it to carbonate. I leave it up to the experts to tell you. I would suggest he add 3-5 pounds of honey, or more apple juice to bring more fermentables in to allow a better carbonation after bottling. Not sure how.

But 3 pounds for 5 gal batch?! Yikes will that be creamy and sweet. It would be like drinking an alcoholic apple shake. I think. Based on some of the recipies I have seen. I haven't seen more that 1 1/2 pounds of lactose being used for that volume. The recipie was also labled as extra creamy vanilla stout. No vanilla was in the recipie.

12-07-2009, 11:21 PM
Lactose isn't really that sweet, though 3 lbs is kind of a lot. I'd vote for "leave it and see what happens" with the option of blending it into another batch of cider if it's too much.

12-08-2009, 04:52 AM
Well this has me curious. You said lactose isn't that sweet, does that mean it doesn't raise gravity as much or does that mean it just doesn't taste as sweet?

Also I see people saying to add lactose to add 'creaminess' a lot. Does the lactose actually add any kind of creamy texture to the drink or is that just a common misconception because lactose is the sugar in milk that everyone knows about.

12-08-2009, 05:02 AM
Well this has me curious. You said lactose isn't that sweet, does that mean it doesn't raise gravity as much or does that mean it just doesn't taste as sweet?

Also I see people saying to add lactose to add 'creaminess' a lot. Does the lactose actually add any kind of creamy texture to the drink or is that just a common misconception because lactose is the sugar in milk that everyone knows about.
I understand that the "added creaminess" you're alluding to is a misconception.

Lactose just isn't as sweet as sucrose (but then again, neither is glucose). It will add sweetness, but that's all. It's had all of the milk related elements refined out of it.

Oh, and it's no good for bottle carbonation either. It's non-fermentable so it'll only sweeten.

The OP would have to try a mix, enough to sweeten, with a small amount of fermentable sugar, so that the remaining yeast cells can do their stuff and make the natural carbonation...... unless there is "CO2 based force carbonation" kit available.....

12-08-2009, 12:08 PM
I've actually used lactose in some of my early experiments with braggots, to try to increase their apparent body. It will change the perceived mouthfeel of the beverage as well as adding a little to the perceived sweetness. That's why I described the likely result as "thick" in my earlier post. I wouldn't exactly call it creamy, but the result is an apparent densification of the liquid, so it has more apparent body in your mouth. It does also raise the specific gravity (since lactose does dissolve in the liquid), and that SG increase is permanent, since (as was already noted) lactose is not fermented by yeast.

12-08-2009, 02:24 PM
Yeah to clarify, "isn't that sweet" means that we do not perceive lactose as a very sweet sugar, compared to say an equal weight of glucose, sucrose, fructose, ..... Milk, just plain milk, contains a fair bit of lactose but I've never met anyone claiming that milk tastes sweet. The biggest thing you'll notice when adding lactose is the increase in density, which adds mouthfeel. In the presence of other conditions, such as fine carbonation or nitrogenation and complex polysaccharaides, the lactose could be also perceived as "creamy", but it is not the lactose itself that provides that. You could also get the mouthfeel effect (and maybe creamy too) by adding maltodextrin instead, but the lactose will have a slight sweetness that dextrin does not. And you get to call it a Milk Stout/Braggot/Cider if you use lactose, which is fun.

12-08-2009, 03:01 PM
complex polysaccharides? Is that like complex sugars like caramel?

12-08-2009, 03:27 PM
Polysaccharide is a more generic term that refers to any carbohydrate composed of a number of monosaccharides (i.e. simple sugars) that are joined together by glycosidic bonds (i.e. the conventional covalent bonds between simple sugars) into larger molecules. The polysaccharides include complex sugars, as well as starches, pectin, cellulose, etc. as the number of sugar molecules in the chain grows.

12-09-2009, 10:39 AM
He is thinking to just see how things turn out--not much option. There were others who pulled off cider in the same run and are fermenting under the same conditions--except for perhaps temperature. Also have some commercial yeasts and some cysers going--It was a 30 gallon press day. So I will follow up with a taste comparison.

thanks again for the input.

12-09-2009, 04:49 PM
I just did my first batch of hard cider (not cyser, sorry) this year, and I decided to backsweeten with lactose so that I could then add a controlled amount of fermentable sugar to do the carbonation. I did things a little differently and split the batch. (2.5 galls each.) I took the first half, mixed in just under a pound of lactose to taste, then added 1 can of apple-cherry juice concentrate to trigger carbonation. While I bottled that I killed the 2nd half of the batch with sulfite/sorbate. The next day I bottled the second half and went with a sweet still cider, so I used 3 cans of apple-cherry to sweeten it up. I know that might seem like a lot for 2.5 gallons, but for an 8.5 abv cider, balancing out that bite seemed an almost moral imperative if I were to share this with anyone besides myself.

The results were delicious. The mouthfeel of the first half did not change with lactose, however I know that carbonation would also mask that. I can't say what adding another 1/2 lb would have done (which would then be the equivalent of adding 3lbs to a 5 gallon batch). And the carbonated batch is still more on the dry side, while there is some sweetness to it. It was definitely not overwhelming.

Now I have some great gifts to give this year. A 4-pack of my first cider (2 bottles of sparkling, 2 still) and a bottle of my first blackberry mead (actually the first thing I've every brewed...it's only 5 months old so I don't know how it's going to taste aside from sampling along the way and at bottling...)