The English dark mild is a low gravity, malty session ale. Even though it is considered a British brown beer by the BJCP, it should be light in every aspect except the color. The 2021 guidelines for this style of beer are below.
- Original Gravity: 1.030 – 1.038
- Final Gravity: 1.008 – 1.013
- Alcohol by Volume: 3.0% – 3.8%
- Bitterness: 10-25 IBU
- Color (SRM): 14-25
English Dark Mild Ingredients
The English dark mild is a malt-forward beer, that can have any combination of sweet, caramel, toffee, toasty, nutty, chocolate, coffee, or roasty flavors depending on the choice of specialty malts. It can finish slightly sweet, or slightly dry, but not too extreme in either of those directions. For the base, I would recommend using Maris Otter. This will build up the rich, malty base.
For specialties, I would use any of the following: amber malt, brown malt, chocolate malt, medium crystal, dark medium crystal, and dark crystal. The amber malt will add biscuity, toasty notes, and a clean, crisp dryness. The brown malt adds a rich nutty flavor with a touch of roastiness. The chocolate malt will add richness and chocolate, along with plenty of color. The crystals will add caramel and toffee, along with body and head retention. Be careful not to go overboard, I would keep specialty malts under 20% of the grain bill.
For the English dark mild, use a British hop, such as Fuggle or East Kent Goldings, for bittering. There is very little hop bitterness and aroma, so you don’t want to add too many hops, just enough to balance the malt sweetness. I would keep it around 12 to 14 IBUs for the first batch and adjust later batches based on your preference.
For the English dark mild:
- English Ale Yeast – WLP002 (White Labs)
- British Ale Yeast – WLP005 (White Labs)
- English Special Bitter -1768-PC (Wyeast)
- British Ale – 1098 (Wyeast)
Last but not least, the water. For all beers I brew, I use a reverse osmosis filtration system and build up my water profile from scratch. The roasted malts have an acidifying effect on the mash, so you will want to consider adding a pH buffer to keep the mash pH from dropping too low. You can do this with baking soda and/or pickling lime. I aimed for a mash pH of 5.4. My water profile looked like this:
- Calcium: 50 ppm
- Sodium: 30 ppm
- Sulfates: 50 ppm
- Chloride: 60 ppm
English Dark Mild Recipe
The following is a 5-gallon batch of an English dark mild. The numbers for this beer are included below.
- Original Gravity: 1.035
- Final Gravity: 1.008 – 1.013
- Alcohol by Volume: 3.5%
- Bitterness: 13.2 IBU
- Color (SRM): 18.8
- Maris Otter – 5 lbs 4 oz (78.9%)
- Amber Malt – 5.6 oz (5.3%)
- Brown Malt – 5.6 oz (5.3%)
- Chocolate Malt – 5.6 oz (5.3%)
- Crystal Dark Medium – 5.6 oz (5.3%)
- 0.75 oz Fuggle at 60 minutes (13.2 IBUs)
English Ale Yeast – WLP002
For this style, I would recommend a slightly higher mash temperature to raise the sweetness a little. I usually mash this style at 156 degrees for 40 minutes. Add your salts and pH buffer if needed, and fill your mash tun to the required volume and temperature for your mash to drop to 156 degrees Fahrenheit. For me, it was 2.1 gallons at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. After the 40 minutes, raise your mash temperature to 168 degrees for mash out. After mashing out, begin to sparge until you reach a pre-boil gravity of around 1.031. For me, it was 5.5 gallons.
Boil the wort for 90 minutes. Add the hops in at 60 minutes. At 10 minutes, I added yeast nutrients and at 5 minutes I added whirlfloc tablets as my clarifying agent. Once the boil is complete, whirlpool the wort for 10 minutes and then let it wind down for 10 minutes.
Knock the wort out in your heat exchanger so that the pitching temperature is 64 degrees and then measure the gravity/pitch the yeast. My initial gravity was 1.035. Let the temperature free rise up to 67 degrees and hold through fermentation. Once you are within 5 specific gravity points from your target FG, let the temperature free rise up to 72 degrees. After 48 hours, cold crash to 33 degrees and hold for another 48 hours. Once your cold crash is complete, transfer it to the brite tank and carbonate it to 2 vols. After 3 days in the brite tank, keg it and enjoy!
If you decide to try this recipe, or another English dark mild recipe, feel free to send us a comment and let us know how it went! And if you want to see more recipes like this, sign up for our newsletter below to be notified when a new post is released. Cheers!