Quest Brewing Company & Milk Stout

By | January 15, 2015
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In 1992, Don Richardson moved to Colorado and discovered the craft beer scene early in its making. Months of paying his dues on the bottling line at Boulder Beer Company earned him an opportunity in the brewhouse; just a few years later, he took his first master brewer position back east with the Cottonwood Brewery in Boone. After a decade of professional experience, alongside multiple national brewing awards and a career in sales and marketing, Don and business partner Andrew Watts began developing Quest Brewing Co., the brand and brewery our community has enjoyed since this past July. Currently, they brew four core beers - a Belgian pale ale, a smoked porter, an imperial coffee stout and an IPA -  and a seasonal release like their pecan pie porter. This winter, they plan to try their hand at milk stout.

For a century at least, the rumor has been that a pint - particularly a hearty stout - restores body and spirit. By the early 1920s, due in large part to the “Guinness Is Good For You” campaign, many in the United Kingdom suggested that nursing mothers, post-ops, blood donors and laborers tired from a long day drink up. It follows suit that the introduction of stouts sweetened with lactose would be dubbed “milk stouts,” but also “nourishing stouts” as well. Even if there’s no evidence to support the mythology, the perception during the rise of milk stouts was that those imbibed received double the nutritional value.

But there’s no milk in milk stout, at least not anymore. Today’s brewers infuse this particular strain of dark beer with lactose (an unfermented sugar) toward the end of a boil. Lactose, which melds well with dark malts typically associated with stouts, performs a number of functions. It rounds the bitter edges, providing a smooth, slightly sweet finish. Lactose is relatively easy to work with, too; one of few risks is that a brewer might add too much, resulting in a beer that’s sweeter than desired. 

The first beer Don Richardson drank was a Coors Light. “My brother gave it to me,” he says. We have that in common, only mine was a Coors Light twenty-two ounce tall boy, which for no real reason seems even that much more incriminating to the beer lovers in us. “After that, the first beer I liked was a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. And the first beer I fell in love with was a Deschutes Black Butte porter.” Which seems about right. We are mostly led down the ladder to our passions by way of first steps. Rarely does a palate arrive fully developed, so it shouldn’t surprise us that Don created and stoked a career making beer by drinking it. “The sweetness combined with the creaminess provides a stout that is easily approachable by the novice craft beer drinker,” he says. As Quest’s Peter Calomiris, a brewer new to the field himself, puts it: “Milk stouts drink like chocolate milk for grown-ups.” 

Quest Brewing Co.
55 Airline Drive
Tuesday-Wednesday 4pm-8pm, Thursday-Friday 4pm-9pm, Saturday 12pm-9pm

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