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Quick Sips: English Dark Mild

I mentioned in the post about my kveik “English” pale mild that I also brewed a dark mild around the same time, inspired by Jamil Zainasheff’s recipe. Well, here it is!

Another Round! – 3.7% ABV – 18 IBU

I made a few tweaks to suit the grain I had on-hand, but this recipe is quite similar to Jamil’s, and unlike my pale mild, it actually uses English yeast (though the hops are German and the malt is largely American). Like the pale mild, it came out tasting quite English, despite its mixed provenance. Also like the pale mild, it’s crushable as hell, even if the richer flavors make you drink it a little bit slower.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m trying to focus more on low-ABV beers for 2021—German and Czech lagers, English ales, and saisons—and this was a great way to kick things off.

What’s in it?

The Vitals

  • Method: BIAB
  • Batch size: 4.5 gallons
  • Mash: 60 minutes @ 160F
  • Boil: 60 minutes
  • Ferm temp: 62F for first ~2 days, then 68F for 2 more
  • OG: 1.041
  • FG: 1.013
  • ABV: 3.7%
  • IBU: 18

The Grain

  • 4.75 lb. Mecca Grade Lamonta (Pale 2-row) – 86.4%
  • 0.25 lb. Briess Crystal 60L – 4.5%
  • 0.2 lb. Black Patent – 3.6%
  • 0.15 lb. Kiln Coffee – 2.7%
  • 0.15 lb. Pale Chocolate – 2.7%

The Hops

  • 21.5g Opal [5.9% AA] @ 60 minutes (18 IBU)

The Rest

  • Water: Ca⁺² 102.4 | Mg⁺² 6.7 | Na⁺ 10.7 | Cl⁻ 108.4 | SO₄⁻² 84.5 | HCO 82.3 | Est. mash pH: 5.44
  • Yeast: 1 packet SafAle S04 (dry)

How’s it taste?

Having only had a few (American) commercial examples of a dark mild, I’d say this one tastes quite authentic to the template they set. If I was describing it to someone who’d never had one, I’d say it’s somewhere between a porter and a brown ale, but… smaller. You’ve got the chocolate and coffee flavors of a porter, along with a little tobaccco/leather and a touch of raisin. It’s quite tasty.

Even with the 160F mash and 1.013 FG, this dark mild came out lighter on the palate than the pale mild, which I attribute mostly to the absence of the aromatic malt in this beer. If you’ve never used aromatic before, it’s just an intensely malty grain that provides almost melanoidin malt-level punch. Useful in small doses. I figured the crystal and roasted malts here would fill in the gaps, but I think next time I’d add a dash of aromatic to this recipe to beef up its palate presence just a teensy bit.

That said, it’s still delightful. The appearance is nearly black, with ruby highlights against the light. The S04 yeast dropped out quite well, as it’s wont to do, but due to the dark hue it’s hard to tell how clear it is in the glass. There’s a nice head on pouring, but it goes away rather quickly and the lacing isn’t particularly striking—something I’d attribute to the abundance of roasted malt. A thin layer of bubbles does stay on the surface of the beer all the way down, though.

True English milds are typically even smaller than the 3.7% I hit here. I was going for 3.2% per BeerSmith, but as in the pale mild, I achieved 93% efficiency with the ultra-thin mash, which put my OG five points above where it should have been. Next time I’ll try to get it closer to the intended ABV, and I’ll probably give proper English hops a go, since I just got my hands on some fresh EKG.


  1. I brewed this exact Zainasheff recipe two years ago with only Simpsons malts and EKG hops using London Ale III yeast. It was a delicious nutty, milk chocolatey drink with soft pomme fruit esters and incredible drinkability. It came out as 3.85% ABV so a tad bit higher than a regular mild. Only downside I can say is that the EKG came out a bit too earthy, otherwise it was great.

    1. Yeah, it’s a super solid base recipe to riff on. I gather that it’s not much like a traditional English mild, but as long as the end result is tasty and sessionable I don’t really care that much.

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