Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reviews of English Mild v1, Design and Brewing of English Mild v2

Thanks to Eagle Rock Solidarity and Moorehouse Black Cat, English Mild is becoming one of my favorite styles of beer.  I really enjoy the layers of rich maltiness, roast, chocolate and fruitiness of the milds, especially when wrapped up in its low ABV package.  Both Solidarity and Black Cat almost taste like a scaled down Milk Stout without the lactose, which given my affinity for a good milk stout, equals awesomeness in a bottle.  

With my crazy schedule (Pregnant wife, finishing Ph.D., starting up company and working on my Post-Doc research on the side) I've found that I can't really drink a pint of a higher ABV beer in the evening, as they get me drunk and make me sluggish the next day.   In order build up a yeast cake for a massive Imperial Milk Stout and produce a stash of session beer, I brewed an English Mild a couple months back.  My local homebrew shop had some Briess Mild Malt on hand, and I figured it would be interesting to try and make a Mild using actual Mild Malt (Granted this is Breiss' version of it, so most likely not uber traditional).

I decided I wanted a fairly biscuity, thick (yet drinkable), slightly chocolatey and roasty Mild.  In order to really produce some strong biscuit notes I went with a large percentage of Breiss Victory Malt on top of the Mild Malt Base (Mild malt tastes a touch biscuity as well, with a slight sweetness and a chewy mouthfeel).  To up the body and give it a little caramel and toffee like sweetness I went with 7.5% English Medium Crystal (Simpson's) and 5% English Dark Crystal (Simpson's), with 5% English Pale Chocolate Malt for some roastyness and biscuity, milk chocolate like flavors.

The beer was mashed high (158F, Brew in a Bag) for 45 minutes, 90 minute boil, pure O2 (60 seconds) and fermented as a split batch at 62F (5 days), 70 F (3 days) with Wyeast 1968 and ECY Mild Ale.  

While the WY1968 produced a nice beer it lacked some malt sweetness and caramel notes so I bottled primed with turbinado.  The ECY Mild Ale was unfortunately infected from the get go (the original vial and starter smelt lactic) and as a result, I racked it into another fermenter, blended with some extra English Barleywine from a keg (1.5 gallons each) and a can of Lyle's Golden syrup and then pitched 1 pack Roselare, 1 pack Lambic blend (both sitting in fridge) and 1/4 pack BugFarm VI to make an impromptu sour (Souring as we speak).

The final recipe with details is below:

English Mild 1.0 Recipe

BeerSmith Recipe Printout -
Recipe: 059-062 Mild, English Browns S/N
Brewer: Ward G. Walkup IV
Asst Brewer: 
Style: Mild
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal      
Boil Size: 8.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 24.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 20.7 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type     %/IBU         
8 lbs 12.7 oz         Mild Malt - Ashburne (Briess) 5.3 SRM    Grain    72.5 %        
1 lbs 3.4 oz          Victory Malt (biscuit) (Briess) 28.0 SRM Grain    10.0 %        
14.6 oz               Crystal, Medium (Simpsons) 55.0 SRM      Grain    7.5 %         
9.7 oz                Crystal, Extra Dark (Simpsons) 160.0 SRM Grain    5.0 %         
9.7 oz                Pale Chocolate Malt 200.0 SRM            Grain    5.0 %         
0.90 oz               Challenger [6.70 %] - FWH 90.0 minute    Hop      20.7 IBUs     
1.0 pkg               London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968)       Yeast               

Mash Schedule: Temperature Mash, 1 Step, Medium Body
Total Grain Weight: 12 lbs 2.0 oz
Name              Description                             Step Temp    Step Time     
Saccharification  Add 41.55 qt of water at 162.6 F        158.0 F       45 min        
Mash Out          Add 0.00 qt of water and heat to 168.0  168.0 F       10 min        

59 = ECY Mild Ale, Breiss Mild Malt
60 = WY1968, Breiss Mild Malt

59, 60 = Mash temp 157.9 F, after 45 min sunk to 154 F.  After boil, chilled to 60 F, oxygenated 60 seconds pure O2, pitched yeast (7 gallons total; boil not as vigorous as it should have been, but still hit expected O.G.).  

ECY & WY1968 Mild hanging at around 62 F after 36 hours.  Moved to bath to heat to 70 F for D-rest.  

59 is infected, lacto pellicle.  ECY Mild strain smelt infected when I opened the vial, smelt infected when I did starter, beer infected, surprise motherfucker.  Took infected mild and blended with Brain Damage Barleywine and pitched Wyeast Lambic Blend & Roselare & ECY Bug Farm VI with some Lyles Golden Syrup added to bring volume to exactly 3 Gallons (no headspace for O2, is souring very nicely; will add some D2 a couple months from now to ramp up sourness and give some dark malt flavors to try and approximate a Flander's Red or Sour Brown Ale (Might rack onto fresh homegrown peaches).

60 was Bottle conditioned to 2.0 volumes Co2 w/ turbinado (80 grams).

To Brew:
61 = ECY Mild Ale, Muntons Marris Otter (Get non infected yeast)
62 = WY1968, Muntons Marris Otter

Created with BeerSmith 2 -

After the WY1968 Mild (Batch 60) spent 2 weeks in the bottle I cracked a bottle for review:

Appearance:  Crystal clear.  Dark ruby/brown with a big creamy head that dissipates quickly and leaves sticky lace on the glass.

Aroma:  Coffee, chocolate, roast, cola, bread crust, nutty malt, brown sugar & molasses, with a slight rasin and prune aroma and minimal fruity esters

Taste:  Light cola and coffee with moderate amount of bread crust upfront that fades very quickly into brown sugar and light roast, with a touch of smoke/flint and woodyness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Thin!  Slight pricklyness in finish, with a tiny bit of astringency.  Carbonation is low and spot on.

Overall/Future Versions:   This beer, while tasty and flavorful, isn't quite where I want it.  It needs to have a much fuller mouthfeel (Mash higher, more crystal) with some caramel sweetness and in general more malt complexity.  Upping the roast and chocolate character a touch, should help balance out the increased sweetness and body so as not to come across as cloying.  A touch more ester production would help complexity even more.

In addition to my own review I've attached BJCP scoresheets from the Maltose Falcon's Mayfaire Competition (Judged Blind) and from a friend's blog, Kettle and Cellar.

A while back, a recipe for my Vanilla Chai Latte (VCL) Imperial Milk Stout was published in the homebrewing section of Beer Advocate Magazine.  The VCL was judged blind in the Maltose Falcon's Doug King Memorial Specialty and Experimental Beer Competition by Drew Beechum.   Drew commented on my scoresheet that he really liked the beer and asked for a recipe, so I of course contacted him and eventually it lead to the recipe being published in the BA Magazine (Thanks Drew!).  All that being said, Riley (Author of the Kettle and Cellar Blog, and JimmyTango on BA) was curious about the VCL so we set up a homebrew trade.  Below is Riley's review of the v1.0 Mild followed by scoresheets from the Maltose Falcon's Mayfaire Competition.

Barfdigg's English Dark Mild

This was the first beer Kel and I opened from the beertrade. It was a mellow Sunday afternoon and the beer was great daytime drinker—although it would have been more fitting on a rainy day.

Appearance: Clear brown-to red with a thin off white head that looks pretty and creamy but falls quickly to a thin film… but can’t blame a low carbonation beer for being a little shy.

Smell: Rich coffee and bread crusty notes with some roasted nut tones and a hint of cola sweetness in the background. Pretty aromatic for a small beer, with a complex depth that fades from fruit to roast and a lot of layers in between.

Taste: Smooth and rich with more toffee than the nose. Nicely full without being too sweet (the beauty of the style when done right IMO). Rich and nutty… almost a hint of poppy seeds. Finish is long and cozy, clean and light, pleasant.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied with light to moderate carbonation. I’d say it could use a bit more body—preferably more “cheweyness” from oats or flaked wheat/barley, but some extra “stickyness” from more c-malts would be fine too.

Overall: I love the layers of yeast and malt. It is quite captivating for such a low gravity beer. I’d love to know what is lending the subtle herbal and cola notes, and I think the super low bitterness (low even for the style) is a nice touch.

If it were my beer what would I tweak? It’s hard to say exactly because I don’t know what the recipe looks like, but I’d probably add some [more?] oats or up the mash temp quite a bit to try to get more body out of it. And, although I generally stay away from it I may make the [switch?] to Marris Otter as a base in an effort to bring even more malty flavors to the party. Really though, I think the yeast choice, malt bill, hopping, and water treatments are right on.

Any of y’all that haven’t had the pleasure of drinking an English Dark Mild, go find one!

BJCP Scoresheets for English Mild Ale from Maltose Falcon's Mayfaire Competition:

So with all of that being said, I'd really like to rebrew this beer but make some changes to the grain bill to add complexity to the beer. As noted above in Riley's blog, the BJCP scoresheets and my review, this beer needs some increased malt flavor/richness and maybe a little more sweetness.  Additionally, I feel like adding a touch more creamyness and a little more coffee and chocolate roastiness to the beer will help round it out on top of the increased malt sweetness/richness I'm shooting for (something I've noticed in Eagle Rock Solidarity, a kickass dark mild brewed by a local brewery, also featured on Brewing Network Can You Brew It).

In order to add some malt sweetness and richness, I'll be switching from Briess Mild Malt as the base malt to Fawcett/Simpsons or Muntons Marris Otter (I love Warminster Floor Malted, but it gives off this peanut butter cookie flavor that I feel would clash with everything else going on in this beer).  The Briess Mild Malt really didn't add much flavor, maybe a touch of toastiness (grain doesn't taste like anything).  Fawcett/Simons/Muntons Marris Otter all have a very nice, yet hard to describe, richness (Nutty, sweet, melanoidins) to them, which should make a nice base for this beer.  Additionally, I'll be upping the English Medium Crystal from 7.5% to 10% to produce a little more body and a touch more sweetness and malt complexity.  Will also be increasing the mash temp up to 160 for this one, to try and add some more body (NOTE:  My beers tend to finish a little drier than Beersmith predicts, so I'm constantly mashing way higher than some of you guys out there).

The other big changes include the addition of golden naked oats at 4.5% of the grist and a slight reduction in pale chocolate malt (5% to 4.5%), and the inclusion of Franco Belges Kiln Coffee malt at 1.3% of the grist.  I find the golden naked oats aid in head retention and give the head a nice creamy, shaving cream like consistency while adding minimal sweetness, almost like an oat version of carapils or crystal 10.  The inclusion of Kiln Coffee malt should up the roast factor just a touch and lend a little more aggressive chocolate and coffee notes to the beer.

On the yeast front, I originally planned to replicate my earlier strain choices and do a split between ECY Mild Ale and Wyeast 1968, however the fresh ECY Mild vial I picked up was again infected when I did a starter of it so I scrapped the idea of using it in this brew.  Instead I picked up some White Labs Bedford British (WLP006 Platinum), as I remember really enjoying the ester profile of this strain when I tried it at White Labs (Lightly fruity, medium attenuation, slight mineral character).  The Wyeast 1968 is a great yeast, and one of my go tos for English Ales, so it will serve as the benchmark.  For this batch I may under pitch slightly and fermenter around 72 F to promote a little more ester production, as some fruitiness from the yeast could really make this a well rounded and interesting beer.

Here is the updated English Mild 2.0 Recipe.  It was brewed on 08/10/2013.

English Mild 2.0 Recipe

eerSmith Recipe Printout -
Recipe: 068-069 Mild, English Browns S/N
Brewer: Ward G. Walkup IV
Asst Brewer: 
Style: Mild
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (42.0) 

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size (fermenter): 12.00 gal      
Boil Size: 15.62 gal
Bottling Volume: 11.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.054 SG
Estimated Color: 24.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 18.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt           Name                                     Type     %/IBU         
16 lbs 1.8 oz Pale Malt, Maris Otter (Thomas Fawcett)  Grain    65.3 %        
1 lbs 14.2 oz Victory Malt (biscuit) (Briess) (28.0 SR Grain    7.6 %         
2 lbs 5.7 oz  Crystal, Medium (Simpsons) (55.0 SRM)    Grain    9.6 %         
1 lbs 2.9 oz  Crystal, Extra Dark (Simpsons) (160.0 SR Grain    4.8 %         
9.1 oz        Pale Chocolate Malt (200.0 SRM)          Grain    2.3 %         
6.4 oz        Kiln Coffee (180.0 SRM)                  Grain    1.6 %         
1 lbs 2.9 oz  Oats, Golden Naked (Simpsons) (10.0 SRM) Grain    4.8 %             
1 lbs         Candi Sugar, D1 (80.0 SRM)               Sugar    4.1 %         

1.65 oz       Challenger [6.70 %] - FWH 60 min         Hops     18.6 IBUs     

2.2 pkg       London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968) [124. Yeast                 
2.0 pkg       Bedford British Ale (White Labs #WLP006) Yeast           

Mash Schedule: Temperature Mash, 1 Step, Full Body
Total Grain Weight: 24 lbs 10.9 oz
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time     
Saccharification  Add 19.47 gal of water at 164 F         158.0 F       40 min     
Mash Out          Add 0.00 qt of water and heat to 168.0  168.0 F       10 min             

Mash temp 158 F (156 F after 45 minutes).  Went no sparge on a whim and efficiency suffered.  Added 1 lb of D1 Candi Sugar to hit target boil gravity 1.044).  60 minutes to chill, hit OG spot on, even with extra gallon in the kettle (candi sugar bumped it up).

Chilled to 75 F.  Oxygenated with pure O2 for 60 seconds.  Pitched yeast:

68 = WLP006 Bedford British Ale, Fawcett Marris Otter Malt
Starter Size, Pitch Rate:  2 vials of 1 week old yeast, 200 billion cells; 10.6 million cells/ml

69 = WY1968, Fawcett Marris Otter Malt
Starter Size, Pitch Rate:  2 smack packs of 1 week old yeast, 200 billion cells; 10.6 million cells/ml 

Transferred fermenter to fridge to cool wort to 68 F.  Activity within 4 hours of pitching.  Fermentation held around 70 F for first 48 hours then allowed to ramp up to 74 F to finish out.

Kegged 08/24/13, 8 psi for 2 weeks at 38 F to hit 2.2 vol CO2.

Created with BeerSmith 2 -

Hops, Water Salts, Whirlfloc and Fermcap for the Boil/Mash:

Heating strike water for a no sparge brew day:

First pour from the keg:

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