I have been asleep like a cow in the pasture…sitting on the idea of this post since early December. My apologies for not mooving on this sooner. More puns to follow.
Lactose. Milk sugar. C₁₂H₂₂O₁₁.
No matter how you define or name it, this ingredient has had a major effect in craft beer for many years now. Be it in your pastry stouts, milkshake IPAs, fruited smoothie or kettle sours, it is a go-to for not just enhancing flavor but mouthfeel. I have enjoyed some beers with lactose, but particularly those when used/brewed with appropriate restraint.
I have had an undisclosed sensitivity to milk and some related products for a little while now, supplementing with lactose intolerance pills whenever I eat anything from pizza to cheese boards to ice cream. During 2021, I began to notice internal issues when I had beers with lactose, so I added pills during tasting and drinking sessions.
Fast forward to the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the first day of Hanukkah. I opened up a small bottle each of an imperial pastry stout and a barrel-aged version with my in-laws as well as a fruited sour with lactose. I had taken a pill earlier since I had partaken in some lovely alpine and washed rind cheeses, but decided to supplement again since it had been over an hour. Everything seemed fine once I cleaned up and went to bed…or so I thought.
The next day, I had a tremendous amount of…intestinal and other discomfort. I will spare everyone the play-by-play as to what this entailed for decorum’s sake, but suffice to say, I was in a bad place and it took weeks to recover.
Normally, the holiday season is filled with joyful gatherings, bottle shares, etc., but due to the pandemic I had a bit of a break, which was fortunate because I needed the extra time to recover. I did not have a single adult beverage for over two weeks because of all the issues.
At that point, I decided to say “Adios, Lactose”, when it comes to beer. My sister-in-law graciously agreed to take all beers with lactose off my hands that week. I would love to say it ended there, but alas that would be bull.
While stuck in quarantine over the holidays/new year due to a possible exposure of my older son at school, we ordered out a fair bit. Towards the end, we ordered from one of my favorite pizza places as a treat to have plenty of leftovers. After two days of pizza-based dinners, the digestive issues returned in full force. Once again, I made a full stop to not just any alcohol (which would exacerbate the symptoms), but now had to make the hard decision: to put all dairy entirely “out to pasture”.
I struggled writing this post. While there are so many amazing, lactose-free styles of beer, giving up all dairy is going to be a major adjustment for me. For those of you who were around when I worked for an affineur (cheese ager), this is a major blow to butcher artisan cheese, pizza (one of my favorite foods), as well as condiments on sandwiches/burgers out of my diet. Dessert will become more challenging as well.
So where does that leave Life On Tap? I will continue to release pre-recorded items of beers that have lactose, but I will not be covering them moving forward. Living with the digestive issues caused by one little ingredient is and will not be sustainable if it destroys me internally and out.
I can now publicly commiserate with my fellow lactose-intolerant beer buddies over not being able to have that Boston Creme Donut Stout or the next tropical smoothie IPA. If anyone else has advice or wishes to join in discussion of this milky topic, please feel free to reach out. We all can stick together like a herd, so to
PS: Thanks to all if you are still here/visiting. I know I have had some technical difficulties editing episodes for quite a while sprinkled with other life changes let alone the pandemic, and I appreciate you all.
Cheers and remember:
Life’s a tap…drink up ’til it’s dry.