Last Sunday I brewed the first dark beer of the year, a Dark Mild. This style is unfortunately a dying style, and is almost unheard of in the US. The best way to describe it is the smaller, gentler brother of a porter or brown ale. It’s usually around 3-4% ABV, and the term “mild” comes from the fact that it’s hopped just enough to balance the beer, leaving the malty caramel and chocolate notes in the forefront.
The total grain bill for this batch was under 7.5 lbs, which is tiny for a 5 gallon batch. These kinds of batches make for a very easy brewday, with small volumes of water to heat, and very easy stirring. They also make for a gentle fermentation after the fact, with worries of blowoff and large heat output kept to a minimum.
I used basically the same recipe as last January, with two small tweaks. First, I used Willamette instead of EKGs, to try to make it more traditional. [Willamette is a Fuggles descendant, which is what I should have used, but didn’t have on hand.] Secondly, I used the sparge-time addition of dark grains technique that I learned about from Gordon Strong to keep the dark grains nice and smooth. I have a feeling I may regret not bumping up the quantity of those grains, as the unfermented wort was really caramelly and not at all roasty, despite 3/4 pound of dark roasted grains. We’ll see what fermentation does to change that, but I suspect it won’t be much.
I pitched a solid cup of slurry into this beer, and like all the beers I make at this gravity range, fermentation was pretty much done after 3 days. I moved the beer to the cellar to chill out for a few days at 55ºF, and I’ll keg it this weekend, giving it 6-7 days before cold crashing it. I don’t like to give these beers too long on the yeast, because they clean up too much, taking away that “English” character that makes these small beers interesting.
Style: 11A-English Brown Ale-Mild
Volume At Pitching: 5.28 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.02 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.039 SG
Expected OG: 1.048 SG
Expected FG: 1.012 SG
Expected ABV: 4.6 %
Mash Efficiency: 85.0 %
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 68 degF
UK Pale Ale Malt 7lb 0oz In Mash/Steeped
UK Medium Crystal 12.00 oz In Mash/Steeped
UK Dark Crystal 8.00 oz In Mash/Steeped
UK Chocolate Malt (500 EBC) 8.00 oz
UK Roast Barley 4.00 oz
US Willamette (4.9 % alpha) 0.85 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
Yeast: Wyeast 1318-London Ale III