Brew Day: Midlands Mild

One of the stated reasons I saw as to why Guinness developed Guinness Blonde American Lager is that people don’t drink stouts during the summer. I get not wanting a boozy, heavy beer on the beach or at a cookout, but Guinness Draught is actually a good summer beer. It is light at 4.2% ABV, roughly on par with the deluge of session IPAs that have hit the market. It is certainly drinkable enough for a day-long cookout. People just can’t get past the color of the beer.

To show once and for all that dark beer can be enjoyed during the summer I am brewing another session beer style from the British Isles, a mild. At 4.5% ABV or under, the beer is light enough for a hot summer day. The style was traditionally consumed by English miners and factory workers. If you can enjoy a mild after a day in a coal mine or steel mill, I’d say it is okay for mowing the lawn.

Mild is one of my favorite styles to brew. Once one the most popular style of beer in England, few commercial examples survive. The mild lost ground to imported pale lagers, while craft beer drinkers in England have gravitated toward bolder styles like bitters, stouts, and even contemporary American craft styles. Coincidentally, the English Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), an organization dedicated to preserving traditional English styles, has made May Mild Month. There has even been a movement to grow the style in the U.S. an American Mild Month has been announced. I brewed my mild on May 31, just sneaking it in there.

The style parameters are fairly broad. The hop flavor and bitterness is low to none. Dark or roasted malts are there to dry out the finish ever-so-slightly. Sugars and other adjuncts can be used, but to me in a beer with 4.0% ABV that is light-bodied to begin with it makes little sense. When brewers started using sugars to cut corners it lessened the quality of the beer and hastened the demise of the style. Mild is the perfect canvas to showcase the floral and fruity flavors produced by English yeasts.

One of the perks of being able to brew your own beer is the ability to brew hard-to-find styles like mild. Every time I brew a mild I feel like I am helping to keep the beer alive. There are occasional examples that can be found locally. Riverwalk Brewing in Newburyport brewed an excellent example with their Route 3 Mild. Samuel Adams Ruby Mild was in the Harvest 12-pack last fall; it was a caramelly, more heavy mild ale. Beer Works Dublin Dark has been classified as a mild, my notes indicated I felt it was too dark and roasty for the style. Yards Brewing Company in Philadelphia brews their Brawler year-round which I enjoyed on our recent beercation.

For this mild I decided to start from scratch. While the organizers of American Mild Month want to create an “American Mild”, my mild will be more traditional. As a loyal follower of Aston Villa of the English Premier League I have met a lot of fans online from the Birmingham and the West Midlands, which coincidentally is the spiritual homeland of the style. My yeast in this beer is the same WLP023 Burton Ale from Curly’s Milk Stout. Burton is also located in the West Midlands.

I developed the recipe almost a year ago. I ordered the ingredients at the same time I brewed the Hot Stove Porter. I had been meaning to brew this beer for a long time. I don’t specifically remember what I was going for in terms of malt flavor. Tasting the malts today before milling I was concerned the recipe may have too much brown and light chocolate malt. After judging caramelly English Brown Ales at a recent competition I am concerned the beer might be too porter-y. In the end I decided to just go with my original recipe and hope for the best.


I also did not have my brewing water pre-treated with a campden tablet. I boiled my mash water to boil off the chlorine and let it cool to the strike temperature for the grain. I used approx 2/3 gallon of distilled water, and tap water ran thru a water filter to top off the boiled wort to get to 5.25 gallons.

With cool weather expected this week I was able to save the runoff from the wort chiller for my next batch instead of using it for a swamp cooler.

A low alcohol beer doesn’t take long to ferment. I could probably bottle the beer next weekend, but I’ll probably wait another week. Low in alcohol and hops, the beer is best enjoyed young. The beer will be ready for Fourth of July cookouts and the last couple months of summer.

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