You don’t see too many examples of the mild ale in craft breweries today. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever had a commercial mild ale before! Some folks in my local homebrew club have shared their mild ales, so I decided to try it myself.

This recipe is adapted from Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer. It is a “dark” mild ale, which adds chocolate and roasted malts to the pale and Crystal malts of a “pale” mild. It is mild in both its low bitterness and its sessionable ABV of 4% or less. Flavors can be malty and sweet, dark and roasty, and even slightly fruity depending on the yeast. I’m excited to see what my first English Dark Mild tastes like!


Style Dark Mild (BJCP 13A)
Recipe Type Extract
Batch Size 3 Gallons
Original Gravity 1.042
Final Gravity 1.014
ABV 3.6%
Color 22°L


The ingredients for our English Dark Mild, just your basic malt, hops and yeast.

Kind Amount Color (SRM)
Light Liquit Malt Extract (LME) 3.3 lb 5°L
Crystal 60 4.5 oz 60°L
Crystal 120 3.4 oz 120°L
Chocolate Malt 2.2 oz 450°L
Black (Patent) Malt 1.1 oz 500°L
Kind Amount % AA Time
Kent Goldings 0.5 oz 5% 60 min
Kind Amount
White Labs WLP002 “English Ale” 1 package (40 mL)

The backbone of a dark mild is the grain bill, which includes darker, roasted malt.

The darker Crystal, Chocolate, and Black Patent malts will give the beer its signature color and toasty, roasty flavor. This recipe is light on the hops, just enough to balance out the malt sweetness.


Bring 3 gallons of water up to 155°F in your brew kettle. Steep the grains for 15 minutes, then stir in the malt extract as you bring the wort to a boil. Once boiling, add the hops and let boil for 60 minutes. Afterwards, cool the wort to 72°F to prepare for pitching the yeast.

It may look dark like a stout, but the flavor won't be as intense.

Before pitching, check the gravity! I lost some water during the boil, leaving 2.5 gallons with a gravity of 1.050. I watered down the wort to 3.25 gallons, reaching the target gravity of 1.040. Once satisfied, transfer the wort to your primary fermenter and pitch the yeast.

Let the beer sit for about a week, then transfer to another vessel for secondary fermentation for another week before bottling. Typically I bottle with 1 oz of priming sugar per gallon of beer. However, dark milds often have low carbonation, so I unscientifically settled on 2.3 oz of priming sugar for my 3.25 gallon batch. After two more weeks, the beer is ready to drink!


And here it is, the english dark mild!

Having seen very few dark mild beers, I assume this is what one is supposed to look like.

Let’s break down the finished product with a proper beer tasting:

Appearance Dark brown, nearly black, off-white head. Clear when held up to the light.
Aroma Caramel sweetness, very little roast, reminds me of whiskey.
Mouthfeel Not too dense, low carbonation, thin, not creamy like a stout.
Flavor Some initial dark malt roast or chocolate, fades into a blueberry-like sweetness, maybe some vanilla.
Overall Flavors are light and balanced. Wouldn’t have guessed it was a dark beer if tasted blind.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this style, but I am pleasantly surprised. It ended up darker than a brown ale, more like a stout, but looks can be deceiving. Whether it comes from the malt or the yeast I’m not sure, but I really enjoy the fruity, berry-like flavor of the beer. There’s almost no coffee, chocolate, or roast flavor you’d expect from a dark beer. And while the color is dark, it is certainly a light, sessionable beer.

Not really having anything to compare it to, I’m not sure if I’d change anything the next time I brewed this beer. I’ll keep an eye out for dark milds in the wild to see how close this turned out. But for now I’m content to drink my own!