Sunday, February 3, 2019

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.

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