Style Details

Sweet Stout
Dark Bri­tish Beer
BJCP Style Code
16 A
Very dark brown to black in color. Can be opaque (if not, it should be clear). Cre­a­my tan to brown head.
Mild roas­ted grain aro­ma, some­ti­mes with cof­fee and/or cho­co­la­te notes. An impres­si­on of cream-like sweet­ness often exists. Frui­tin­ess can be low to modera­te­ly high. Diace­tyl low to none. Hop aro­ma low to none, with flo­ral or ear­thy notes.
Dark roas­ted grain/malt impres­si­on with cof­fee and/or cho­co­la­te fla­vors domi­na­te the pala­te. Hop bit­ter­ness is mode­ra­te. Medi­um to high sweet­ness pro­vi­des a coun­ter­point to the roas­ted cha­rac­ter and hop bit­ter­ness, and lasts into the finish. Low to mode­ra­te frui­ty esters. Diace­tyl low to none. The balan­ce bet­ween dark grains/malts and sweet­ness can vary, from quite sweet to modera­te­ly dry and some­what roasty.
Medi­um-full to full-bodi­ed and cre­a­my. Low to mode­ra­te car­bo­na­ti­on. High resi­du­al sweet­ness from unfer­men­ted sug­ars enhan­ces the full-tasting mouthfeel.
Over­all Impression
A very dark, sweet, full-bodi­ed, slight­ly roasty ale that can sug­gest cof­fee-and-cream, or sweeten­ed espresso.
Typi­cal Ingredients
The sweet­ness in most Sweet Stouts comes from a lower bit­ter­ness level than most other stouts and a high per­cen­ta­ge of unfer­men­ta­ble dex­trins. Lac­to­se, an unfer­men­ta­ble sugar, is fre­quent­ly added to pro­vi­de addi­tio­nal resi­du­al sweet­ness. Base of pale malt, and may use roas­ted bar­ley, black malt, cho­co­la­te malt, crys­tal malt, and adjuncts such as mai­ze or bre­wing sugars.
An Eng­lish style of stout deve­lo­ped in the ear­ly 1900s. His­to­ri­cal­ly known as “Milk” or “Cream” stouts, legal­ly this desi­gna­ti­on is no lon­ger per­mit­ted in Eng­land (but is accep­ta­ble else­whe­re). The “milk” name is deri­ved from the use of lac­to­se, or milk sugar, as a sweete­ner. Ori­gi­nal­ly mar­ke­ted as a tonic for inva­lids and nur­sing mothers.
Gra­vi­ties are low in Eng­land, hig­her in expor­ted and US pro­ducts. Varia­ti­ons exist, with the level of resi­du­al sweet­ness, the inten­si­ty of the roast cha­rac­ter, and the balan­ce bet­ween the two being the varia­bles most sub­ject to inter­pre­ta­ti­on. Some ver­si­ons in Eng­land are very sweet (low atte­nua­ti­on) and also low in ABV (Tennent’s Swee­the­art Stout is 2%), but is an out­lier com­pared to the other examp­les. The­se gui­de­lines most­ly descri­be the hig­her gra­vi­ty, more balan­ced, export ver­si­ons rather than the low alco­hol, very sweet ver­si­ons that many find quite dif­fi­cult to drink.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Bris­tol Beer Fac­to­ry Milk Stout, Left Hand Milk Stout, Lan­cas­ter Milk Stout, Mackeson’s XXX Stout, Marston’s Oys­ter Stout, Samu­el Adams Cream Stout
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.044 - 1.060 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.012 - 1.024 SG
30 - 40 SRM
4.0 - 6.0 %vol
20 - 40 IBU