Brewing a Mild Ale

Mild Ale – for many, just the name will bring back haunting memories of watery brown beer from the Midlands, consumed in a grotty pub with an incomplete set of darts and a very incomplete cleaning regime. May was CAMRA’s Mild Month, giving the members, pubs and regular joes alike a gentle prod in the direction of a low-IBU 3.5%-er that they might just enjoy. Until recently, Mild Ale was, at least in my opinion, understandably left behind in favour of bigger-is-better beers. Primarily designed for soft, easily offended palettes and lightweight drinkers alike, it’s easy to see why the style failed to grab the attention of the more exciting and extravagant breweries.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that in the last year, and in the last few months in particular, all bets are firmly on for a full on mild revival. Weird Beard, Buxton and Dark Star are just some of the respected craft breweries embracing the proverbial Phoenix that is the Mild Ale. Although the traditional UK pint sits roughly between 3%-4% with Pale and primarily Crystal, Chocolate and Roasted Barley malts in any combination, restrained hopping and a characterful English ale yeast, the style is open to interpretation – several examples now boast an Imperial alcohol content. Mild Ale Malt is now available to the home brewer and provides a soft biscuit flavour throughout the beer.

The profile of the beer should be complex and balanced, but light in flavour and never overpowering. Bittering hops should not exceed 25 IBUs and are free to go as low as 10 IBUs, with a small dose of aroma or flavour hops acceptable. After that, it’s up to you – so the potential to use practically any malts, hops and maybe even yeast makes this a style waiting to be blown wide open in whatever way you see fit.

I sat down and decided to formulate recipes for two types of Mild. The first is a completely traditional English example with no extra flair whatsoever – the original style done right (you can tell I’m from the Midlands.) The second is a little more experimental – a Mild for all intents and purposes, but brewed with American hops and a clean yeast. Both recipes are listed below, and I hope they’ll inspire you to brew one yourself. With a simple single infusion mash and the potential to be brewed on a shoestring budget, as well as a low conditioning and maturation period, there’s plenty of reasons to embrace the Mild Ale in all of its wonderful pond-watery goodness.


Traditional Mild: A simple English Mild in the vein of Banks’ Mild, a complex but easily enjoyable blend of fruity and toasty flavours. Yeast is important in Mild, so try to use one that kicks out of a lot of esters. (Remember to add Whisky to a measure of your hot wort, like I have, for a brew day tipple.)

Traditional Mild

Recipe Specs

—————-

Batch Size (L): 23.0

Total Grain (kg): 3.540

Total Hops (g): 31.00

Original Gravity (OG): 1.038 (°P): 9.5

Final Gravity (FG): 1.011 (°P): 2.8

Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 3.48 %

Colour (SRM): 17.9 (EBC): 35.3

Bitterness (IBU): 16.2 (Average)

Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 78

Boil Time (Minutes): 90

Grain Bill

—————-

3.150 kg Maris Otter Malt (88.98%)

0.230 kg Crystal Malt (UK) (6.5%)

0.080 kg Chocolate (UK) (2.26%)

0.080 kg Roasted Barley (UK) (2.26%)

Hop Bill

—————-

21.0 g East Kent Golding Pellet (5.3% Alpha) @ 60 Minutes (Boil) (0.9 g/L)

10.0 g East Kent Golding Pellet (5.3% Alpha) @ 10 Minutes (Boil) (0.4 g/L)

Misc Bill

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Single step Infusion at 67°C for 60 Minutes.

Fermented at 20°C with WLP022 – Essex Ale

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American Mild: Lightly hoppy, deep amber in colour and a little roasty. A clean yeast gives way to soft apricot hops and sweet toasty malts. Single Infusion Mash at 68c for a good body.

American Mild

Recipe Specs

—————-

Batch Size (L): 23.0

Total Grain (kg): 3.870

Total Hops (g): 38.00

Original Gravity (OG): 1.036 (°P): 9.0

Final Gravity (FG): 1.008 (°P): 2.1

Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 3.68 %

Colour (SRM): 11.6 (EBC): 22.9

Bitterness (IBU): 17.9 (Average)

Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 70

Boil Time (Minutes): 90

Grain Bill

—————-

3.150 kg Maris Otter Malt (UK) (81.4%)

0.500 kg Wheat Malt (12.92%)

0.150 kg Crystal Malt (UK) (3.88%)

0.070 kg Chocolate (UK) (1.81%)

Hop Bill

—————-

15.0 g Palisade Pellet (8.8% Alpha) @ 90 Minutes (Boil) (0.7 g/L)

23.0 g Palisade Pellet (8.8% Alpha) @ 0 Days (Dry Hop) (1 g/L)

Misc Bill

—————-

Single step Infusion at 67°C for 60 Minutes.

Fermented at 20°C with Danstar Nottingham

Happy Brewing!

Robert Walker Written by:

Home brewer, ex Brewdog employee (whoops) and craft beer monster who was has never quite managed to escape Birmingham despite much effort.

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