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The Milk Stout Whisperer

Kelly Montgomery of Third Eye Brewing won four straight GABF gold medals for milk stout—and he did it at two different breweries, using two different recipes. We sent David Nilsen to get the insights on how.

David Nilsen Nov 12, 2022 - 10 min read

The Milk Stout Whisperer Primary Image

Photo: Courtesy Third Eye Brewing

Milk stout, also known as sweet stout, has a known origin story: The Mackeson brewery released the first one in 1909, having developed a way to make their stout “more nourishing.” That way, of course, was the addition of milk sugar. North American breweries have dabbled in the style for a few decades, even if the more recent trend of adding lactose to a wide range of styles—see milkshake IPA—has helped to give the ingredient something of a bad name.

However, when properly brewed, there are few things as easily enjoyable as a classic milk stout.

One brewer who has earned the respect of his peers when it comes to this style is Kelly Montgomery, head brewer at Third Eye in Cincinnati. In a run that few if any brewers can match, Montgomery has won four straight gold medals for his milk stouts at the Great American Beer Festival. He first won three in a row for Moozie Milk Stout at Brink Brewing, which he cofounded in 2017. Montgomery left for Third Eye across town in 2020 and promptly won gold for Higher Purpose Milk Stout.

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