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Milds, Bitters, Session IPAs, and Low ABV / Session Beers

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by AlCaponeJunior, May 13, 2013.

  1. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    There's been a lot of talk about this over the last few months, and it's got me wanting to brew one. I think I want to go the more traditional route, with plenty of maltiness, moderate hoppiness, and ABV around 3.5-4%. Here's my initial proposal:

    5 lbs maris otter
    1 lb munich
    1 lb vienna
    0.5 lb 120 crystal
    0.5 lb 60 crystal


    0.5 oz willamette* at 60
    1 oz cascade at 10
    1 oz willamette at 3
    0.5 oz cascade at FO
    0.5 oz willamette at FO

    mash at 158 for 45 minutes

    use Windsor yeast

    targets would be:

    OG 1.040
    SRM 13
    IBU 21
    ABV 3.6%
    FG 1.012

    I'm not totally sure of this recipe, but if I had to guess I'd say it would probably come out ok. I'd think it to be a bit more hoppy than a true English mild, but not as hoppy as the session IPAs that some are brewing now.

    However, suggestions are sought, and any wisdom or experience in these lower OG beers that you care to share would be appreciated. I'd rather take some advice and have the beer come out kick ass than to just brew it and have it come out so-so. I know these lower gravity beers are more finicky than my usual beers (12lbs of grain/6%-ish ABV).


    *or if I'm out of willamette, serebrianka
  2. marquis

    marquis Crusader (740) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Milds, bitters and "session IPAs" are a broad school indeed.Nobody has actually defined mild to everybody's satisfaction so some are weak, some are around 6% , most are dark but some are pale and some are in between! But low hops seem to be the common factor as they derived from the ale family rather than the beer one.Some milds on the market are caramelised bitters to add to the confusion!
    I don't think many if any UK brewers employ Munich or Vienna malts-with MO and GP malts grown locally (plus many others) there simply is no call. But homebrewing is about suiting yourself so no problem.As for hops, some beers use "traditional" hops such as Fuggles and Goldings but as we only grow a small proportion of the hops we use most come from overseas. US hops are widely incorporated as are Continental varieties.Willamette is Fuggles in American clothes.
    Here's an example of a so-called "traditional mild" from the now defunct Morland's Brewery;
    5 lb MO
    4 oz crushed roast barley
    Mash at 151 degrees
    2 oz Fuggles hops (full boil)
    12 oz soft dark brown sugar

    and one for Adnam's Southwold Bitter , still going strong, and one of my favourites for a hot summer day.
    6 lb MO
    4 oz crystal (unspecified)
    2 oz roast barley
    1 lb invert sugar
    Mash at around 151 degrees.
    2 oz Fuggles and 1 oz Goldings (full boil)
    0.5 oz Goldings (15 min)
    0.5 oz Goldings (dry hop)
    I've brewed the Adnam's several times and it's a good example of an old fashioned bitter. I've a suspicion that the commercial version has a bit more in the way of late hops though, the beer does have a strong backbone of hop resin.
    I's sure that your software will tell you that the Adnam's has more IBUs then the "guidelines" , I can tell you that the recipe delivers the goods as it stands, fairly close to the genuine article.
    Both beers are for 5 UK ie 6 US gallons.They would make good beer with a bit less water if that suits.
  3. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,607) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    You turned the tables! Traitor! Haven't you been saying for years that the mild recipes we construct, trying to thread the needle of BJCP style guidelines, have been underhopped? You had me convinced and I started raising the hop levels in my milds. And now this. What's next? Are you going to tell us that Scottish beers also eschew the hop? And that they really do use a wee bit of peated malt to add a touch of smoke character?
    NiceFly and AlCaponeJunior like this.
  4. marquis

    marquis Crusader (740) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    No , American recipes for British beer styles seem to be underhopped across the board.The mild recipe I posted above uses 2 ounces of full-boiled Fuggles and the bitter uses 3 ounces of Fuggles/Goldings mix full boil plus later hop additions.
    As for Scottish beers over centuries of brewing you will find (as with English) a pretty wide range of hopping rates.I'm sure you could find isolated examples of peated malt as well but the odd exception doesn't alter the overall picture.
  5. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    That's some great discussion already! That's why I like this board best for discussing beer, you guys are really on it with not only great advice, but great ideas about innovation too.

    What if I added 2 oz of roasted barley and brought the SRM up to about 16? I'm thinking I didn't have it quite dark enough.

    Oh btw, I'm "out of style" for the mild style according to beersmith. Over on the OG. Don't know if beersmith is to BJCP style, don't care. Conforming to BJCP is something I'll worry about only when and if I enter competitions.

    Again, thanks for the great replies so far! I'm off to build a deck, will check in later!
  6. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,607) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    I was just having some fun. As always, I appreciate your perspective. The take home message has always been that beer styles have nebulous boundaries.
  7. Naugled

    Naugled Crusader (737) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    I would ditch the munich and vienna, I don't think they are needed. I think it will just muddle the MO character. I brew about 4 milds a year. I like to keep them around for an easy drinking beer. I always add a little chocolate and black malt, usually about 1% each, is all you need. My bill is typically MO base with some C60 and C120 and the chocolate and black. ~1.040 and mash on the high side. Use Fuggles or EKG and just about any yeast.
  8. mugs1789

    mugs1789 Initiate (185) Dec 6, 2005 Maryland

    I have a mild in the keg right now that I brewed a few months ago. The malt bill was 5.75 MO, .1875# brown malt, .1875# chocolate malt and 1# caramel 60. I forget the hop schedule but it was probably one oz. willamette at 60 and 1 oz. willamette at 10. I probably mashed at 152.

    If I were to brew it again, I would increase the roasty flavor and aim for more body/chewiness. I like your idea of mashing at 158. My mild is too thin. Next time, I would either mash higher or add 1/2#oatmeal.
  9. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,607) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    For my tastes, the most important ingredients in milds are the specialty malts. I might never make a mild without a Simpson's crystal malt. Sometimes I go with the medium (50-60L) and sometimes the dark (70-80L). Most recently, I used Simpson's Golden Naked Oats in a pale mild.

    Outside of this recent pale example, I have always made dark milds, using English roasted malts. I find Thomas Fawcett's Pale Chocolate highly addictive (truly, the very thought of it makes me want to drink a beer right now, but I have to be off to work in a few minutes). I think I may have used a pale chocolate malt from Crisp once, and it was also to my liking. I also have used Simpson's Chocolate malt which is darker, and I believe I have used someone's black malt in a mild. I might use up to half a pound of the pale chocolates, and 2-4 ounces of darker malts. I have not used roasted, unmalted barley in a mild.

    I typically use Crisp Maris Otter for a base malt because it seems to be the most accessible British base malt for me. There used to be a British mild malt available over here but it has disappeared from the market (at least, the US homebrewer's market) - I can't remember the maltster, as it too, has disappeared. I have sometimes used Briess' Ashburne Mild and Pale Ale malts.

    I usually do not put sugar in my milds, but it is common in the many of the recipes that Marquis and Ron Pattinson have shared. Of course, those sugars tend to have some flavor to them and do more than just ferment out to lighten body. In the aforementioned pale mild, I did use 12 oz of homemade amber candi syrup. It had a nice maple-like flavor, but I can't really say the flavor impacted the beer, which had 1 lb of the Golden Naked Oats and Crisp Maris Otter as the balance.
  10. rmalinowski4

    rmalinowski4 Disciple (329) Oct 22, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Love the discussion. I plan on making a bunch of beers in the 4% area for easy summer drinking. I would like to do a mild, a hoppy pale, some berliners and I currently have a 4.5% orange saison in the fermenter.
  11. marquis

    marquis Crusader (740) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    The sugars used in mild brewing aren't simple table sugar, they tend to be dark and flavoursome.Try Demerara or Muscavado in the absence of the real brewing sugars.
    To the OP ,the milds I typically see on the bar in this country stretch from 3% to over 5% ABV , very commonly these days in the mid 4s.
  12. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,607) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    I also think the Candi sugar syrups available at many US homebrew stores are quite flavorful and could be useful. Of course, they are sold with Belgian beers in mind but I don't think they would necessarily be out of place in an English beer. I used 2#s of D180 syrup (http://www.candisyrup.com/) with nothing but Pilsener malt in a 6 gallon batch of a ribbon-earning Belgian dubbel.
  13. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster Aspirant (244) Sep 21, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Another alternative you may find in the US that works well is panela/piloncillo (same thing, different name in different parts of Latin America). It's similar to jaggery but while jaggery may be date or palm sugar, panela/piloncillo is always sugarcane. It's less refined than demerara or muscavado so it has a richer flavor but there's also some slight ashy character to it.
  14. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster Aspirant (244) Sep 21, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Agreed. Munich is often used in conjunction with two row to replicate MO flavor or MO plus light crystal malt, so no need to add it if you are already using MO as a base.
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  15. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    Would mind posting the recipe? I'm thinking about doing one of those by summer's end.
  16. Hanglow

    Hanglow Defender (679) Feb 18, 2012 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    try this for a hoppy pale

    OG 1.040
    FG 1.011


    100% lager malt

    all hops on 15 min or if higher alpha add some more closer to flameout

    single hops work well
    english yeast like wlp022, Thwaites, Fulllers etc etc

    Based on recipe for Brewers Gold http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/6575/20467/?sort=serv&servT=8&start=0

    rmalinowski4 likes this.
  17. marquis

    marquis Crusader (740) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Quite a few English brewers use lager malt in their paler hop forward beers.
  18. mnstorm99

    mnstorm99 Initiate (0) May 11, 2007 Minnesota


    I skimmed through the posts, so excuse me if I missed it. I like the recipe as written, but would change your mash temps. I brew a good amount of session IPA's, bitters and milds (my historical knowledge of milds was that they were only meant to be consumed fresh and young), and know that we want to acheive a higher finishing gravity in general. But, a combo of 12.5% crystal, Windsor yeast and 158° mash temp seems a bit overboard to me. I might suggest a 153-154° mash temp, and the hops should also benefit from this a bit more as well.
    GreenKrusty101 and JackHorzempa like this.
  19. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,050) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Mob mentality? I'm also looking at doing a hoppy low abv saison.
    4lbs Belgian pilsner
    2lb red wheat
    1lb golden naked oats
    1.0oz cascade @ 60
    1.0oz cascade @ 10
    1.0 oz cascade @ flameout
    wlp670, no starter
    Hoppy American wild.
  20. marquis

    marquis Crusader (740) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Yes, I agree that 12.5% crystal is on the high side but perhaps that's just my individual taste though 5% is a more normal figure anyway.
    Mild did mean just fresh.There was Ale which was either vatted and called Old Ale or drunk fresh and known as Mild Ale. Other styles came from the Beer family.We still often refer to Mild Ale but Bitter Beer.
  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,019) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I have been contemplating posting something very similar to what mnstorm99 posted. I too am of the opinion that the combination of high mashing temperature, a large amount of crystal malt (e.g., 12.5%), and Windsor yeast is a triple ‘whammy’ which will result in a very high FG beer. I think mnstorm99’s suggestion of mashing around 153°F is an excellent idea.

  22. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    Hmmm... lot to consider.

    I worked my damn ass off today building that deck (and we're not even finished). It's a second story deck with 20' 4x6 support posts that requires scaffolding and two story ladders, and everything is 2x8's (or heavier). I'm about to pass out from simply opening a second post-work beer. :rolling_eyes:

    What I am thinking so far is to modify my recipe a little. I'm contemplating between all maris otter, or using maris otter / Munich / crystal only and ditching the Vienna. I'm gonna do an all-Vienna SMaSH sometime soon anyway, so I could live without that. I love Munich, which is why I thought it might do well in this beer. Perhaps 5 lbs maris otter, 2 lbs Munich, same crystal malts. Maybe.

    I don't think I'll be adding any sugar, but the information posted about sugars is being noted and logged for future use, great discussion!

    Hops wise I think I like what I've got. IF I was even contemplating any changes, it would be all cascade (in the event that I don't actually have any willamette, but I think I have an unopened pound of it). I've done several beers with serebrianka so if I'm out of willamette, it will be all cascade (numbers adjusted slightly for the slightly higher AA). Remember, I'm a cascade fanatic! :grinning:

    Triple-whammy wise: I see the point made by several posters, striving for a higher FG in three different areas will probably result in overkill. Multiple suggestions to drop the mash temp to 153-154, easily do-able. I liked the idea of Windsor because it's dry and easy to use, but maybe something like London Ale Yeast would be better. I'll consider the yeast, but resolve to dropping the higher mash temperature some.

    At least for now, in my extremely tired and slightly delirious state. I reserve the probability of changing my mind again in the light of fresher, more complete evidence as to why I should do that. Or at least a more sensible, non-delirious state of mind. :rolling_eyes:
  23. Hanglow

    Hanglow Defender (679) Feb 18, 2012 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    If in the future you want to make brewers syrup, then this guide is the best I've found
    Tastes very different from the sugar it's made from.

    I just put the pan of sugar into the oven at the right temperature once it's up to temperature, saves hanging around the stove for two hours. Worked fine for me
  24. marquis

    marquis Crusader (740) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Just to emphasise-this is not done using table sugar! Unrefined sugar is what it's all about.There is also #4 sugar which is used to great effect in Belvoir Dark Horse Mild.
  25. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    That's extremely close (hops wise) to my second edit of my recipe. Is that a "hoppy" low ABV beer? Does the fact you're doing a saison and I'm doing a mild change the definition of what's hoppy? What about session IPAs, how much hops is typical for them?

    I did not think I was making it "hoppy," just "somewhat hoppy." I would consider a "session IPA" to be a "hoppy" session beer.

    I realize these questions may not have specific answers and may be very subjective, depending on the brewer. They're kind of rhetorical, because I like the discussions that such questions raise.
  26. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    There are a lot of great suggestions and discussions, thanks for the great replies!

    Here is my latest thinking on what I might do with this beer:

    5 lbs maris otter
    2 lb munich
    0.5 lb 120 crystal
    0.5 lb 60 crystal
    1 oz roasted barley
    2 oz chocolate malt (350)*

    hops (showing the schedule I'd use if I only have cascade hops available):

    0.5 oz cascade at 60
    1 oz cascade at 10
    1 oz cascade at 3
    1 oz cascade at FO

    mash at 154 for 45 minutes

    use WLP002 English Ale yeast

    targets would be:

    OG 1.040
    SRM 18
    IBU 23
    ABV 3.5%
    FG 1.013

    Anyway, still subject to editing. I still have one beer already purchased to brew ahead of this one, and might do another smash before this one too (I'm dying for a Vienna smash**).

    To clarify, this is what I want from this beer:
    • full mouthfeel
    • plenty of body (not watery)
    • a good maltiness and lots of malt flavor
    • pretty low bitterness, but a fair degree of hops flavor (not enough to clash with the maltiness tho)
    Could I perhaps use more of the non-crystal specialty malts? I don't want to make a session stout, and realistically, on my system even beers with SRM 3 come out with a fair bit of color (I think they all come out darker than what the SRM rating on beersmith says it should be). Thus, the choices I made here. But like I said, I'm not attached to a recipe just because it's "mine." I want the best beer I can make, and don't mind if someone else gets some of the credit! :grinning:

    *I don't know if they have the "pale chocolate malt" that's been discussed on the boards, but I plan to check. Would that be a better choice? If so, how much?

    **Vienna / Cascade with about 4.5 oz of cascade sounds great
  27. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,050) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Al, I am not sure how hoppy this beer is gonna be. Its going to have a pretty long primary and may lose a lot of hop profile due to that, and the brett fermentation. I think I may dry hop as well, but I am not quite sure at this point.I would expect 3 oz of hops would make your mild hoppy though.
  28. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    Thanks man. And thanks for the clarification. I had missed the brett part, that makes a big difference due to fermentation time.
  29. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,607) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    Here's what I did. I called it a pale mild, because that was my original inspiration, but where I ended up neither fits my understanding of the pale AK mild (which I've only read about) nor any BJCP category. The FG dipped lower than anticipated, so its a higher ABV (5%) than we often consider for mild. However you try to pigeon hole it, I think it's a refreshing beer that lets pale malt character shine, has good sweet/bitter balance, and a bit of fruity ester. I would brew something like this again. Despite the low finishing gravity, it doesn't seem thin to me. The magic of Golden Naked Oats?

    6 gal, OG 1.044, FG 1.007, ~8 SRM
    8# Maris Otter
    1# Golden Naked Oats.
    Mashed 1.25 qts per lb at 154F for 60 min

    12 oz homemade amber sugar syrup added to runnings.
    120 min boil
    33 IBUs Goldings hops, 60 min addition
    0.67 oz Goldings hops, flameout/whirlpool
    Fermented with WY 1469 at 64 degrees.
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,019) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “The FG dipped lower than anticipated”

    I am really posting this for the wider BA community. I am not surprised that you obtained a lower FG since you used 1469. I brewed my house Bitter Ale last year using 1469 for the first time and I obtained a surprisingly low FG of 1.006; my OG was 1.050 so that means an Apparent Attenuation of 88%. The beer tasted very good but I just was not anticipating that amount of attenuation. Prior batches of that same recipe/process using Windsor would result in a FG of 1.014.

    So, my message to BAs is: do not use 1469 if you desire a beer with a higher FG.

  31. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    Thanks. While in any other thread about sessions and milds I'd shun you for uttering 5%+ :grimacing:, I'll allow it. I'm new to this, but given what I've learned already, 1.007 does seem surprisingly low. I can imagine the low-mid IBUs balancing well with the body the oats contribute and making for quite a nice beer to have a few of, regardless of the relative 'strength'.
  32. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,607) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    Jack, did your beer seem thin-bodied? Mine really doesn't, which I have attributed to the oats. It is interesting that I read and heard many good things about this yeast but high apparent attenuation (85%+) never made my radar. As you probably know, Wyeast's description of this reads:

    "YEAST STRAIN: 1469 | West Yorkshire Ale
    This strain produces ales with a full chewy malt flavor and character, but finishes dry, producing famously balanced beers. Expect moderate nutty and stone-fruit esters. Best used for the production of cask-conditioned bitters, ESB and mild ales. Reliably flocculent, producing bright beer without filtration.
    Flocculation: High
    Attenuation: 67-71%
    Temperature Range: 64-72'F (18-22'C)
    Alcohol Tolerance: 9%ABV"
  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,019) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    No my beer didn’t taste thin (watery) despite the low FG. The only ingredient that I used to provide some body was ½ lb. of medium English crystal malt. I have a Bitter that is fermenting right now where I used 1469; this go around I used 1 lb. of medium English crystal malt to add a bit more body.

    I was not aware of the Wyeast published data of “Attenuation: 67-71%”. I did read a presentation that Greg Doss gave at NHC 2012 (he analyzed the attenuation of many (all?) of the Wyeast ale strains). 1469 was among the most attenuating of the Wyeast yeast strains. Greg measured 78% for 1469.


  34. utahbeerdude

    utahbeerdude Disciple (376) May 2, 2006 Utah

    This is similar to a beer that I brewed last year, with essentially the same goals that you have. I think that you will hit your goals, but I do have one suggestion: also dry hop it with 0.5 to 1 ounce of Cascade (maybe move the 10 or 3 min addition to the dry hop stage?). Your nose will thank you!
    AlCaponeJunior likes this.
  35. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    Cool recipe!

    One thing I have got down pretty darn well is final ABV, 12 lbs makes about 6.0-6.2% beers on my system pretty consistently. We'll see if this new "calibration point" offers me any new insights into my personal brewing setup. I'm curious if I have beersmith set to where it will be close to spot-on, or if there's some kind of deviation from a linear ABV function at lower OG (running final ABV vs. lbs of fermentable grain used).
  36. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    Priceless! :grinning:

    I love watching some of the more heated discussions (esp. in other sub-forums here) about "session beers." Grab a beer and some popcorn and get ready for the show! :astonished:
    sjverla likes this.
  37. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    And yeah, I'll probably toss in an ounce of cascade for dry hop. How could I not?
    utahbeerdude likes this.
  38. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    Ditto. I'm rarely a purist, but as a short, thin guy, if I'm in for a session, it's really got to be below 4%. So that's a rule I like to stand behind. And after doing this craft beer thing for a few years I can finally get past drinking IPAs, DIPAs and RIS's almost exclusively.
    utahbeerdude likes this.
  39. patto1ro

    patto1ro Defender (624) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    AK is not a type of Mild. It's the classic Light Bitter.
  40. marquis

    marquis Crusader (740) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Could the confusion have arisen through McMullen's AK which at different times has been called a mild and a bitter?
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