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2021 Batch 15 - English Dark Mild Ale

From the first time I tried one at The Winking Lizard Tavern many years ago, I've been a fan of the English Dark Mild Ale style. It's a nice mix of roasty malt flavors without the heaviness of a porter or stout, which makes it easy to drink year-round.

The recipe below is adapted from the Hey Man Dark Mild recipe by Nic Pestel of Missoula, MT.  Nic won a gold at the 2018 NHC in Portland, OR, with the original version.  This variant changes the original recipe in the following ways:
  • Swapped Maris Otter for the original's Montana 2-row Pale Malt
  • Swapped Munich DME for the original's Munich 10L Malt
  • Replaced the original's Dextrin Malt with some Pilsner (since I had no Dextrin or similar on hand)
  • Swapped Lallemand CBC-1 dry ale yeast for the original's Wyeast 2112 California Lager Yeast, mostly because I didn't want to deal with a lager and the CBC-1 should be fairly neutral yeast
  • Adjusted IBUs based on my hops' Alpha Acid levels
  • Changed the first hops addition to first-wort hops rather than 60 minutes
  • Cut the recipe size down from 10 gallons to 3.25 gallons
Other than the above changes, and adjusting fermentation temp for the CBC-1 yeast, I followed the original recipe in the original Grainfather brewing system.

Ingredients

4 pounds 12 ounces Maris Otter malt
8 ounces Briess CBW Munich DME
5 ounces Carafa II Special
5 ounces Pale Chocolate Malt
1 pound Pilsner Malt
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 stabilizer
1/4 of a whirlfloc tablet
0.65 ounces Tettnang hops @ 4.5% AA (16.7 IBUs) FWH
0.75 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh hops @ 3.8% AA (8.1 IBUs) 15 min.
0.50 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh hops @ 3.8% AA (~1 IBU) 2 min.
1 package Lallemand CBC-1 (Cask and Bottle Conditioning) yeast

4.4 gallons of RO water (2.85 gallons mash, 1.55 gallons sparge), treated with:
  • 2.9 grams Gypsum
  • 0.9 grams Calcium Chloride
  • 1.1 grams Epsom Salt
  • 0.9 grams Magnesium Chloride
  • 0.9 grams Table Salt
  • 1.4 grams Baking Soda
According to Brewfather, the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style:  13.A English-Style Dark Mild Ale
  • Batch Size:  3.25 gallons estimated (3.7 actual post-boil)
  • Original Gravity:  1.053 SG estimated (1.058 actual, see notes later)
  • Pre-Boil Gravity:  1.039 SG estimated (1.061 actual, see notes later)
  • Final Gravity:  1.017-1.019 SG estimated, 1.021 SG actual per Tilt
  • IBUs:  26 estimated (20 post-brew, per Brewfather)
  • BU/GU Ratio:  0.49 estimated (0.34 post-brew, per Brewfather)
  • Mash Efficiency:  59% estimated (91% actual, per Brewfather)
  • Yield:  28 12-ounce bottles
  • Carbonation Method:  3 Brewer's Best carbonation tablets per bottle (low carbonation)
  • Fermenter Used:  Lister
Mash Schedule

The mash water was treated with minerals and heated to 152F, at which time the grains were added and stirred in.  At that point, some pH 5.2 Stabilizer was added since I had it on hand.  The mash continued for 60 minutes, at which time the temperature was increased to 169F.  After 10 minutes at 169F, the grain basket was lifted out of the Grainfather and drained into the kettle.  The controls were set to start boiling while the grain basket drained.  Sparge water was gradually added until all 1.55 gallons had been used and the grain basket seemed to be only draining a few drops here and there.  The first-wort hops were added as soon as the grain basket was removed.

Boil Schedule

The following boil schedule was used:
  • 60 minutes:  No additions
  • 15 minutes:  1/4 of a Whirlfloc tablet added, along with 0.75 ounces of Hallertau
  • 2 minutes:  0.50 ounces of Hallertau were added and the heat turned off
Following the boil, the wort was given a good stir and allowed to settle in before pumping into the fermenter.

Fermentation Plan

The Lallemand CBC-1 yeast does best in primary fermentation at 72F.  The wort entered the fermenter around 77F, so I rubber-banded a couple of ice packs to it to help chill it down to that temperature.  When the temp had dropped to 74F, I pitched the dry yeast into the fermenter.  

My plan from that point would be to monitor fermentation temperature.  Any time it exceeded 72F, I would stick a couple of ice packs to it to help cool it down. As long as it was at or below 72F, I would leave it alone to free-rise.  In practice, this plan worked well, keeping the wort to 72F or less throughout fermentation.

Packaging Plan

As with nearly all my beers, the plan will be to bottle this one.  I'll add 2.5 Brewer's Best Carbonation Tablets per bottle to give it low carbonation, consistent with the style.

Post-Brew Notes and Observations

09/25/2021:  I had recently re-gapped my motorized two-roller mill to 1.3mm before crushing this batch, which seems to have made a significant difference.  Instead of the 59% mash efficiency I had been seeing in the recent past, this batch achieved a mash efficiency of 91% according to Brewfather.  As a result, I ended up with a pre-boil gravity for the batch of approximately 1.061 SG instead of the expected 1.039.  The original gravity post-boil registered 1.064 SG on the Tilt Hydrometer.  Because I wanted to hit the OG from the original recipe, I ended up adding distilled water to the fermenter to bring my gravity down to 1.057 SG (which was as close as I could get without overfilling the fermenter).

09/26/2021:  The fermentation seemed to begin around 1am.  At 11pm, the gravity had dropped to 1.039 SG per the Tilt Hydrometer.  The temp had increased to 73F at that point, so I rubber-banded a small ice pack to the side of the fermenter to keep it cool.  By 4am, Monday the temperature had dropped to around 67F.

09/27/2021:  Early in the day, the temperature had risen back up to 71F and the gravity had dropped to 1.023 SG, which is just a few points from the expected 1.017 SG final gravity.  However, at this point it doesn't look like the fermentation has slowed very much, so we might see gravity drop further before a final gravity is reached.

(Somewhere in here I added some S-04 English Ale yeast to help consume some of the longer-chain sugars the CBC-1 would not eat, though I didn't see any change in gravity from doing this.)

10/03/2021:  I bottled the beer today in 28 twelve-ounce bottles, each dosed with three (3) Brewer's Best Carbonation tablets.  This should yield a carbonation level around 1.8-2.0 which is good for the style.  The aroma coming off the fermenter was amazing.  If the finished beer tastes anything like it smells, it's going to be amazing.

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