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Mad Alchemist Mild Mannered (English Dark Mild)

2018 July 4
tags:
by Mad Alchemist

Nearly unknown in the US, Dark Mild is a lovely beer style that deserves more attention than it gets. In some ways, it’s an easier drinking porter–like a session porter.

I was introduced to the style on a visit to England some years ago, and I’ve sought good examples across the Atlantic ever since. Sadly, it’s rare for me to find one of them at all, much less one I find satisfying.

So, I sought to brew my own. I’ve brewed a few, and this is perhaps my favorite of the bunch. It’s largely a to-style Dark Mild, but I add a little twist at the end with some medium oak (not soaked in anything) to give it a bit of a cask character and emphasize smoothness with the grain bill.

There is minimal hop aroma, though a little bit of East Kent Goldings flavor comes through. The predominant flavors are of chocolate, caramel, and toffee with a fairly sweet finish, rounded out by the oak character.

The bitterness levels are technically a touch higher than most Dark Milds to balance out the round smoothness of the oak.

If you aren’t a huge fan of oak character, leave it out. It does tend to dominate the delicate profile of the malt in this recipe.

On to the (5.5 gallon) recipe for Mad Alchemist Mild Mannered:

Ingredients

  • [7.5 lbs] Pale Malt, Maris Otter (Fawcett)
  • [12 oz] Caracrystal Wheat Malt (Briess)
  • [8 oz] 120 °L Extra Dark Crystal (Fawcett)
  • [4 oz] Midnight Wheat (Briess)
  • Hops: 0.25 oz Magnum @ 12.7% AA (60 minutes)
  • Hops: 0.9 oz East Kent Goldings @ 6.1% AA (20 minutes)
    • 0.1 oz of EKG for the 60 minute hop addition as well
  • Yeast: White Labs London Ale (WLP013)
  • Water: Add water salts to RO/distilled for a balanced profile, slightly in favor of chloride with relatively low levels of both sulfate and chloride
  • Mash: 155 °F (~5.4 pH)
  • Yeast: White Labs London Ale (WLP013)
    • Use a starter and yeast nutrient!
  • NOTE: Your grain bill will need to be adjusted according to your mash efficiency. Mine is around 85%.

Target Profile

  • Original Gravity: 1.049 SG
  • Final Gravity: 10.16 SG
  • Color: 20 SRM
  • Bitterness: 24 IBUs
  • ABV: 4.3%
  • Carbonation: 2.5 Vols

Oak Cubes

3 oz Medium Hungarian oak cubes were added for 1 week at 55 °F after fermentation was complete. They were removed cold crashing. These came from somewhere that ensures they’re sanitary when unopened, so they needed no treatment at all. This simulates a bit of a cask flavor, which I find adds complexity the final beer. NOTE: I wanted to use Light French oak. This would have been a better choice, as the tannins were too strong with this Medium Hungarian oak. 2 oz would be more appropriate as well. We just want a bit of cask flavor, not pronounced oak.

Fermentation

This one is normally fairly simple, but due to some complications with getting to pitching temp, I did some wonky stuff. It turned out a great beer, so I’ll tell you what I did. Generally with a mild, I just ferment in primary at ~66 °F until fermentation is nearly complete, then raise the temp to roughly the yeast’s highest happy temperature.

However, for this brew, I pitched at 60 °F. I was starting to get signs of fermentation after an overnight wait, but on day 2, I raised the temperature to 68 °F (it managed to get to ~64 on its own).  On day 3, I raised it to 70 °F for the remainder of fermentation. I usually cold crash to ~40 °F +/- 2°F depending on whatever floats my boat.

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