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Through a Mild Darkly

The finished beer, one week after bottling
The English Dark Mild Ale is a style I first encountered several years ago at The Winking Lizard location on Bethel Road, a location that sadly is no longer open. The one I tried back then was Cain's Dark Mild, and I found it a very enjoyable beer. In 2018, I made my first attempt to brew the style. I thought it turned out well, but wanted to try again.

Jamil Zainasheff's book Brewing Classic Styles contained a recipe for a Dark Mild Ale named "Through a Mild Darkly" that was similar to my 2018 recipe but different enough that I decided to try brewing it. My first attempt was a failure, caused by an oversight on my part that resulted in the wort being ruined and discarded. Today's attempt was more successful.

Ingredients

3 pounds, 14 ounces of a mix of Simpsons Golden Promise, Swaen Pale Ale, and Rahr 2-row malts
4 ounces British Medium Crystal Malt
3 ounces Crystal 120L
2 ounces Pale Chocolate Malt
1 ounce Black Patent Malt
4 handfuls of Rice Hulls to ensure good flow through the grain bed
0.41 ounces East Kent Goldings hops pellets @ 6.1% AA (60 min.)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in mash
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer in the mash
1/8 tsp. Super Irish Moss (15 min.)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the boil (10 min.)
1/8 tsp. Yeast Nutrient in the boil (10 min.)
2.35 gallons of mash water
1.3 gallons of sparge water
1 package of Lallemand London ESB Yeast

According to BeerSmith 3, the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Category: 13.A Dark Mild
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons estimated, 3.25 gallons actual
  • Original Gravity: 1.038 SG estimated, 1.039 SG actual
  • Final Gravity: 1.010 SG (actual was 1.015 SG)
  • SRM: 18.2
  • ABV: 3.6%
  • BU/GU Ratio: 0.45
The mash schedule:
  • Mash in at 104F for 10 minutes
  • Mash at 154F for 60 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minutes
  • Sparge at 168F for 10 minutes
The boil schedule:
  • 90 minutes: No additions
  • 60 minutes: East Kent Goldings hops
  • 15 minutes: Super Irish Moss
  • 10 minutes: Yeast Nutrient and Brewtan B
  • 0 minutes: Chill to 64F
The fermentation plan is to allow the beer to free-ferment in a cool corner of the basement.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

02/02/2019: The brew went well, without any mishaps or problems. The wort came out one SG point above the estimate. Volume came out a big above the estimate, implying a greater efficiency than I've been estimating previously. Wort temperature in the fermenter registered 74F, so I chose not to pitch the yeast right away. I placed the fermenter in a colder (approx. 62F) section of the basement overnight to cool down.

02/03/2019: The beer is now registering a temperature of 62F. This is below the yeast's recommended fermentation range (which is 65-72F), but that should be just fine.

11:45am: I pitched a full package of Lallemand ESB yeast directly onto the 62F wort. At the time the yeast was pitched, the gravity registered 1.040 SG.

02/04/2019 9pm: Gravity has dropped from 1.040 SG to 1.014 SG today. 

02/05/2019 9:38pm: Gravity has dropped as low as 1.009 SG but currently reads 1.014 SG and the temperature registers as 63F. A sample extracted from the fermenter was very dry and grainy, so the beer may be at its final gravity.

02/12/2019:  Gravity is registering 1.015 SG now, at a temperature of 59F, which is the ambient temperature in that part of the basement right now.

02/17/2019: The beer was bottled today with six small carbonation tablets per bottle.

02/24/2019: The beer has a beautiful deep ruby reddish brown color with thin off-white head. Aroma is roasty, chocolatey, and a touch nutty. No hops in the aroma (consistent with the style). Flavor is malty, roasty, Mouthfeel is light-to-medium. Finish is mildy roasty. There is a subtle tartness in it as well.

05/12/2019:  It turns out that the bottling wand used to fill the bottles with this beer was infected by an unknown strain of bacteria. The entire batch had to be dumped. Every bottle gushed its contents out after opening.  Worse, the affected wand was the one I used most often, so most of the batches I've brewed in the past year were infected at bottling and have had to be trashed.

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