close up photo of dessert on top of the jar

Milkshake IPAs: A Creamy and Fruity Delight


Milkshake IPAs have emerged as a unique and intriguing beer style that combines the hoppy bitterness of traditional IPAs with the smooth creaminess of milkshakes. These beers are known for their fruit-forward flavours, and velvety mouthfeel, and often incorporate lactose for added sweetness. In this blog post, we will delve into the origins and brewing techniques of Milkshake IPAs, explore the characteristics that set them apart, and highlight notable examples of this indulgent beer style.

The Origins of Milkshake IPAs

The Rise of New England IPAs

The popularity of New England IPAs (NEIPAs) paved the way for Milkshake IPAs. NEIPAs are characterised by their hazy appearance, soft bitterness, and emphasis on hop flavour and aroma. Brewers sought to push the boundaries of NEIPAs by adding lactose and fruit to create a beer that resembled a milkshake in both taste and texture.

The Birth of Milkshake IPAs

Milkshake IPAs originated from the creative minds of craft brewers seeking to craft a beer that blurred the lines between dessert and IPA. The addition of lactose, often referred to as milk sugar, brings a creamy sweetness to the beer, while the incorporation of fruits, such as berries, citrus, or tropical varieties, contributes a fruity twist to the flavour profile.

Brewing Techniques for Milkshake IPAs

Malt Base and Hops

The malt base for Milkshake IPAs typically consists of pale malts and may incorporate a portion of flaked oats or wheat to enhance the creamy mouthfeel. The hop selection is crucial, focusing on hop varieties that offer fruity and tropical characteristics to complement the overall flavour profile.

Lactose Addition

Lactose, a non-fermentable sugar derived from milk, is a defining ingredient in Milkshake IPAs. It contributes residual sweetness and a creamy texture to the beer. Brewers add lactose during the boil or fermentation process, carefully balancing its quantity to achieve the desired level of sweetness without overpowering the other flavours.

Fruit Infusion

Fruit plays a significant role in defining the flavour profile of Milkshake IPAs. Brewers incorporate various fruits during fermentation, either in the form of purees, extracts, or zest. The choice of fruits depends on the desired flavour profile, with popular options including mango, passion fruit, raspberry, and pineapple.

Additional Flavor Enhancements

To further enhance the milkshake-like qualities, brewers may add vanilla beans, spices, or even cacao nibs to create unique flavour combinations. These additions contribute complexity and depth to the beer, mimicking the experience of indulging in a decadent milkshake.

Characteristics of Milkshake IPAs

Creamy Mouthfeel

Milkshake IPAs are known for their velvety and luscious mouthfeel, thanks to the addition of lactose and the use of flaked oats or wheat in the malt base. The beer glides smoothly across the palate, creating a luxurious drinking experience.

Fruit-Forward Flavor Profile

The fruit additions in Milkshake IPAs result in vibrant and juicy flavours that take centre stage. The beer often showcases tropical fruit, citrus, or berry notes, offering a refreshing and fruity twist to the traditional hop-forward profile of IPAs.

Sweetness and Balance

The presence of lactose brings a touch of sweetness to Milkshake IPAs, balancing the hop bitterness and complementing the fruit flavours. The goal is to achieve a harmonious balance between the sweetness, hop character, and fruit additions, creating a well-rounded and enjoyable drinking experience.

Notable Examples of Milkshake IPAs

Showcase of Breweries

Craft breweries worldwide have embraced the Milkshake IPA trend, producing outstanding examples of the style. Some noteworthy breweries known for their exceptional Milkshake IPAs include Omnipollo, The Veil Brewing Co., and Other Half Brewing Co. These breweries showcase their creativity by pushing the boundaries of flavours and incorporating unique ingredients.

Flavour Profiles

Milkshake IPAs offer a wide range of flavour profiles to tantalise the taste buds. For example, Omnipollo’s “Mango Lassi Gose IPA” combines the creaminess of a milkshake with the tangy notes of a gose, while The Veil Brewing Co.’s “Never Again Again” incorporates tropical fruits and lactose for a smooth and fruity experience. Other Half Brewing Co.’s “All Citra Everything” showcases the citrus-forward characteristics of Citra hops, balanced by lactose for a creamy finish.

Food Pairings and Enjoyment

Culinary Pairings

Milkshake IPAs provide an exciting opportunity for culinary exploration. Their fruity and creamy nature pairs well with a variety of dishes. The fruity flavours complement spicy foods, such as Thai or Indian cuisine, while the creamy texture balances the heat. They also pair well with desserts, especially those featuring tropical fruits or creamy elements like cheesecake or fruit tarts.

Savouring the Experience

To fully appreciate Milkshake IPAs, serve them slightly chilled, around 8-12°C (46-54°F), in a glass that allows the aromas to concentrate, such as a tulip or snifter. Take the time to observe the beer’s hazy appearance and inhale its enticing aromas before taking a sip. Allow the creamy mouthfeel and fruity flavours to dance across your palate, savouring each moment of this delightful indulgence.

Milkshake IPAs offer a unique and decadent twist on the traditional IPA style. With their creamy mouthfeel, fruity flavours, and balanced sweetness, these beers blur the lines between dessert and IPA, providing a truly indulgent drinking experience. Whether you’re drawn to the tropical fruit-infused variants or those featuring tangy citrus flavours, Milkshake IPAs open up a world of creativity and exploration for both brewers and beer enthusiasts. So, grab a pint of your favourite Milkshake IPA, immerse yourself in its creamy and fruity delights, and embark on a flavourful journey that transcends the boundaries of traditional beer styles.