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Home » Tech and Tips » Brewers Series » Milds, Pale and Dark
Milds, Pale and Dark
by Drew Beechum
Welcome to the first in what I hope will be an ongoing series of various brewers' take on a favorite style. Inspired in part by the series of articles we've had on Big Beers and Small Beers, this is not intended to be a rehash of Grand Hydro articles or the BJCP guidelines, but a crystallization of a brewer's thoughts on how to make that style of beer. Think of this as a written form of the things we tell other brewers as they try our beer next to the keg box. To kick things off, I'll tackle a favorite style of mine, mild ale. If you have a style you're fond of, experimented with, etc and would like to help us out, contact the Grand Hydro at grandhydrometer@maltosefalcons.com.

We all go through a phase where the endless joys and pain of high gravity brewing, but after a while all that big beer just starts to weigh a man down. Sometimes you just want to reach for a bottle or keg of something easy to drink. For most of the world, that means reaching for a "pilsner". That's just not my cup of joe. (Sorry John A.)

Bruce pointed out the benefits of brewing smaller beers (faster turnaround, more brew, easy drinking, etc), but his focus is more on the peerless Ordinary Bitter that he and Brian brew. I like hops, but something about bitter doesn't sit right with me; perhaps it's too many bad EKG and Fuggles beers.

So I ran to the anti-Moorman style, the Mild and all of its variations. Put simply, a mild is all about the malt, a malt chew that's interesting but not exhausting. Caramels, light roasts, coffee, just about any flavor you can expect from the malt is the central key turn on this beer. To avoid it being goopy and too much like a stronger brown ale, you need sugar and a light touch of hops.

There are two types of mild, a Dark Mild (the typically thought of mild) and a Pale Mild (or AK). Both are about the malt with the Dark Mild expressing the deeper dark flavors of caramels while the AK expresses a light, but full flavor like a malt Blondie bar.

Milds can be assembled quickly and dropped into a keg in a little more than a week. They make great weekday nighttime brewing fodder. One thing to watch out for is collecting the right volume for a low gravity (~1.036ish). To give myself breathing room, I inevitably calculate my malt bill to 1.040 and when the sparge is done, I'll get to my target volume by a slight dilution. This also helps avoid collecting tannins; a reason I don't like making milds as a "small" beer. Remember this beer doesn't have much hiding room for a strong tannic presence.

Keys to the Style:~1.034-1.038 and 10-16 IBUs

Grain Bill:

  • Marris Otter or Golden Promise as a base malt
  • For a dark mild, a dark Crystal malt (150L, 120L), a touch of black malts (Carafa, Chocolate, Roasted Barley)
  • For an AK, a light Crystal malt and other malts to reinforce a toasty malt character if desired.
  • Both styles benefit from the use of an adjunct, like oats to round out the body and an interesting bit of sugar (~1/2lb) to deliver a lot of flavor without adding extra heft. My favorites include Turbinado and Billington's Molasses Brown Sugar.

Mash: Single infusion, 152-154F, no mash out

Hops: While any British hops would be appropriate, including Fuggles and EKG, I prefer Target (for bittering FWH/60 minutes) and Progress/Challenger for flavor.

Yeasts: Traditional - 1275 Thames Valley or 1318 London III (2-3 weeks fermentation); Fast - WLP001 California Ale (1 week fermentation)

Want to make your own beer at home? Get started on the right foot. Check out the Falcon's sponsoring shop, The Home Beer, Wine, Cheesemaking Shop. John Daume, proprietor, has been serving the home brewing and winemaking needs of Angelenos since 1972, over 30 years! (Falcon Members receive a 10% discount on supplies)
Looking for older Falcons' information?, The Westval Maltose Falcons Webpage (Locally cached) (The Original Falcon's Roost, prior to 1999)
Looking for a home wine making club in the Los Angeles area? Check out our sister club, The Cellarmasters, over 30 and still stomping grapes.