Style of the Month: Mild Ale

By Steve Piatz

This article originally appeared in the February 2006 newsletter of the Minnesota Home Brewers Association

The MHBA Style of the Month is an opportunity to brew a particular style and join fellow club members in sharing, discussing and critiquing a particular style. Consider brewing this now and bringing it to the April club meeting to share and discuss!

This month the style of the month (SOTM) recipe is for a Mild Ale. Brewing your Mild by February 15 should give you sufficient time to complete fermentation and conditioning of the beverages in time to have the beer ready for sharing at the April club meeting.

Mild Ale

Summarizing from the description of Mild Ale in the BJCP Guidelines available at the aroma has low to moderate malt aroma and may have some fruitiness from the fermentation. The malt character may include caramelly, grainy, toasty, chocolate, or lightly roast notes. The appearance is copper to dark brown or mahogany colored. Some paler examples also exist. Generally clear, though not brilliantly so. Low to moderate off-white to tan head. The head retention may be poor due to the low carbonation, adjunct use, and the low original gravity. The flavor is generally malty and may exhibit a wide range of malt and yeast based flavors (e.g., malty, sweet, caramel, toffee, toast, nutty, chocolate, coffee, roast, vinous, fruit, licorice, molasses, plum, and raisin). The finish can be sweet or dry. Darker versions may finish with a dry roasted note. Low to moderate bitterness, enough for some balance but not to overpower the malt. Fruit esters may be moderate to none. The mouthfeel has light to medium body. Roast based version may have some astringency. Sweeter versions seem to have a fuller mouthfeel. Carbonation is low to medium-low. The overall impression is a light-flavored, malt oriented session beer. Refreshing though flavorful. Some version can seem like low gravity brown porters.

Classic commercial examples frequently available in our area include Gale’s Festival Mild, Moorhouse Black Cat. In general the style is delicate and low in gravity so it doesn’t travel well so there aren’t many English versions shipped to the US. Even in the UK the Mild is not widely available though CAMRA has had a push over the last couple of years to make more Milds available in British pubs, as part of this campaign Fuller’s had Hock, their Mild in production again.

By the numbers a Mild Ale is:

Mild Ale

  • OG: 1030-1038
  • FG: 1.008 – 1.013
  • SRM: 12 – 25
  • IBU: 10 – 25
  • ABV: 2.8 – 4.5%
  • typical range is 3.1 – 3.8%

Mild Ale Recipe Details

The recipe is for a relatively dark mild, the color will be about like that of a Brown Porter, ProMash predicts a color of 22 SRM. The recipe has a target original gravity of 1.036, near the upper end of the style’s range. The final gravity will be around 1.009 – 1.010, the bitterness will be near the high end at about 24 IBUs.

First the all-grain version, the recipe assumes 75% efficiency so adjust accordingly for your system.

Pounds Malt
4.44 Pale Ale Malt
0.92 Crystal 50-60 ° L
0.38 Chocolate
1.11 Flaked Corn
0.24 Crystal 135-165° L

Mash at about 152°F for approximately 45 minutes or until fully converted. For mash-out you can heat the mash to 168° F. Note that for almost every style of beer I skip the mash-out step in the interest of saving a few minutes. Sparge with 168° F water until you collect 7 gallons of liquid in the kettle, after the 90 minute boil and chilling you should have between 5.5 and 5 gallons of wort in your fermenter, depending on your system loses.

For the extract version of the above, malt components change to:

Pounds Malt
2.75 Light Liquid Extract
1.0 Pale Ale Malt
0.92 Crystal 50-60 ° L
0.38 Chocolate
1.11 Flaked Corn
0.24 Crystal 135-165° L

The flaked corn can’t just be steeped because it has basic starches you need to do a partial mash of the specialty grains and the pound of pale ale malt. The pale ale malt is included to get the enzymes to convert the starches in the flaked corn. With 3.66 pounds of specialty malt and 1.33 quarts of water per pounds you need about 4.9 quarts of water to mash the malt, the partial mash can be in a mesh bag. As in the full mash about 45 minutes at 152° F should convert all the starch to sugar and then sparge with about 4.9 quarts of 168° F water. Combine with enough water and the liquid extract to get 7 gallons of liquid at the start of the boil

If you don’t have the ability to boil the full 7 gallons of wort in the extract recipe try for the largest boil you can handle. If your boil volume is significantly below 7 gallons you will probably want to increase the hop quantities (below) by 10% or more because the hop utilization will be reduced due to the higher specific gravity in the boil.

The hop bill is the same for both of the versions of the recipe. Since this is an English style with virtually no hop flavor or aroma we are just using a classic English bittering hop.

  • Amount: 1.46 oz.
  • Hop Variety: 4.0% Whole Fuggles
  • Time Left: 90

For both versions use Irish Moss or your equivalent fining agent for the last 15 to 20 minutes of the boil. If using Irish Moss be sure to rehydrate it in cool water before adding it to the kettle.


The recipe contains enough dark malt to tolerate water with a fair amount of carbonates present. If your water comes from the deep wells typical of much of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area you have water very high in carbonates. If you want to adjust the recipe for a lighter colored version by removing the chocolate malt you may want to use water with low carbonate content. To reduce the carbonate level blend your water with reverse osmosis (or distilled) water, or neutralize the carbonates with an acid like lactic or phosphoric in the mash and sparge water, or you can preboil the water and rack off the sediment. The recipe is only slightly sensitive to the sulfate level in your water since the style doesn’t have much hop contribution.

Wort Processing and Fermentation

Chill the wort to primary fermentation temperature at the end of the boil, add some oxygen, and pitch your chosen yeast from a yeast starter. The oxygen and starter will help you achieve a lower final gravity.

Fermentation should be conducted in the 68° to 75° F range.

Primary fermentation should be finished in 4 to 5 days.

The yeast choices include Wyeast British Ale (1098), Wyeast London Ale III (1318), White Labs British Ale (WLP005), and White Labs London Ale (WLP0513), White Lab Burton Ale (WLP023), and even the dry Nottingham Ale strain. Experiment with a few of the English yeast strains and find one that you like for style like Mild that isn’t very hoppy.

At the end of the conditioning interval with the beer at 70° F you will need just under 4 ounces of corn sugar to carbonate 5 gallon to 2.3 volumes of CO2.

ProMash recipe (*.rec) files.