Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Near Perfect Pint: Dark Mild Tasting

If you could not tell from the post title, this is a very good beer. Not perfect, but oh so close. It has everything I look for in a pint: substance, complexity, character, balance, and goes down so easy it leaves you looking for more. For me, this is one of those beer's that seemingly pulls you back in time, bringing to places you have once been and have dreamed about ever since. For me it's one sip and I'm back in North London, sitting at the huge mahogany bar of my favorite local, sipping frothy pints of dark mild from the cask while listening to the friendly chatter of pub life. It is a beer like this that reminds me of why I love being a homebrewer and helps me appreciate the craft of brewing... ack, enough of the emotional crap. This beer is closely based off a recipe that won a few of best of shows, gold medals, and other bling at a bunch of competitions including the NHC. I have tweaked the recipe a couple times over this past year and I'm pretty happy where it is now.

Ploughman Mild: English Dark Mild

Appearance –  Pours a very clear, dark-ruby colored brown that looks almost black unless held to the light. (My picture taking skills suck, so you'll just have to believe me on the color of this one). The beer pours with a nice creamy head that quickly dissipates to a fine ring, leaving some lacing.

Smell – Right away you get lots of biscuity malt, dark caramel, toffee, and lots of nuttiness from the brown malt. Some fruity esters are there, but they blend in pretty well. Smells distinctly English, but with a caramel-sweet character that reminds me of a good Scottish 60/-. Just a hint of roast at the end. 

Taste – Very similar to the aroma. Lots of biscuit and dark crystal malt flavor with hints of toffee, toast crust, coffee, dark chocolate, and a bit of roast. Some fuggles hop flavor with that characteristically earthy quality, though not enough to take away from the malt. Very low bitterness and finishes sweet, yet dry. The yeast character is evident, with a slightly sweet caramel flavor and some fruity esters. Again, some brown malt character. Very well balanced - all flavors are distinct and harmonious.

 Mouthfeel – Low carbonation (< 2.0 volumes) provides a very smooth, full, silky mouthfeel that makes for superbly easy drinking - I could drink this all day long. The very definition of a session pint.

Drinkability & Notes – If you haven't noticed, I love this beer. I'm not ashamed to say it. A nearly perfect pint in it's current state. Only thing about this batch that I don't like is that I had to bottled it,as I didn't have any open kegs and some bottles are a bit more carbonated than others. Yeast seems stable in the bottle.

O.G: 1.040, F.G: 1.010, 3.9% ABV, 21 IBU, Wyeast 1318 London Ale III

Here is the recipe for 5 gallons, 70% efficiency.

6.00lb Pale, Maris Otter
0.75lb Crystal 60L
0.40lb Crystal 120L
0.40lb Pale Chocolate 200L
0.25lb Brown Malt
0.20lb Special B
0.12lb Carafa II

1.0 oz Fuggles @ 60 min for 21 IBU
0.5 oz Fuggles @ Flameout

Ferment 65-68F for two weeks, crash cool then keg/bottle.


  1. Have you put this recipe up anywhere? Sounds great!

  2. I put the recipe up under the tasting notes. Enjoy!

  3. What mash schedule do you use for that Mild ?

  4. I usually mash around 154-156 for 60-75 min for this beer. I don't want to mash any higher than that as 1318 will leave some residual sweetness in the beer, even if it gets 80% attenuation.

  5. just out of curiosity, how could I adapt this recipie for a lower abv?

    Very sorry, am literally at the very beginning of my homebrew adventure and I bloomin' love my dark milds and all beers pitch-black :)

    1. No worries, the easiest way to scale back the gravity would be to remove a 1/2 to 3/4 lb of basemalt. Doing so would increase the % of speciality grains by a bit, though that shouldn't affect the beer much. Maybe mash a tad lower, say 152F.

      Good luck with your brewing.


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