Tag Archives: Unit4

How to brew a Mild

We were lucky enough to have Paddy and Matt from the brewery with us in this month’s meeting and being back in the boardroom almost meant we lost someone in the bar. In the end it was all good though and we enjoyed some great discussions about the beers brought, enzyme use and parti-gyle brewing.

Before we got to the beers though Paddy and Matt were kind enough to spend some time talking about the history and brewing techniques and recipes you need to make a ‘bostin’ mild. I’ve captured what I can recall here so feel free to use these tips and points to make your own ahead of our Mild May meeting based on CAMRA’s Mild month! (That’s a mouthful that sentence)

First the history, and this is where the excellent ‘Designing great beers’ by Ray Daniels shows its value. The chapter looking at Brown ales and Milds gives a real historical view of their origins but the take away for me is that time was the choice in a pub was between a bitter and a mild, two beers at opposite ends of a spectrum. The bitter end is obviously just that, bitter, and the mild end focused on the malty side of the street. A Mild is a beer designed to showcase everything malt has to offer without the sharp tang of the hops taking up too much space.

The low strength many people associate with a Mild appears to be a newer phenomenon maybe based on ‘value engineering’ of recipes by the brewers as their popularity dwindled and they had to maintain the margins. Paddy created some notes around the recipe and process build – including the strength and I’ll share and explain those here. So first what would you aim for in terms of gravity, colour and bitterness.

The gravity, colour and BU of a Mild

So here we have the specification from two breweries Mitchell & Butler and Highgate. You can see the gravity here would give you a beer of about 4.0%. The interesting aspect of this is the PG. This is the gravity that the beer was filled into cask meaning the beer was quite actively fermenting still when it was packaged and so it really was extremely cask conditioned. The bitterness of around 24 is on a par with a modern commercial lager, enough to balance the sweetness but not overwhelm it. The colour here is quite dark – as I’d expect a mild – but the range can be from a chestnut up to black, so a lot of scope there.

Mash ingredients for a Mild

What about the mash? This is a showcase for malt flavours and you can see here where they come from. The values relate to the mash tun at the brewery but the ratio would remain and then scaled down to your own mash tun size to yield 1035 or so. So a solid base of pale ale malt and then around 4% Crystal. This would probably be a medium colour crystal and then about half that amount of Black malt to get the colour up to where you like. Paddy’s tip was to aim low on the colour as you can always add more with liquid caramel (as per the recipes here) to increase it, but you can’t take it away. The 10% torrified barley and 6% malted wheat give you the body and thick head retention and then sugar as well. This is on top of priming sugar added into the cask. On top of the remaining gravity when filled that priming sugar would have made sure it was a real strong fermentation in the cask. I’ve no idea how it cleared. Note at the bottom Calcium Chloride. This should be added as opposed to gypsum to the mash liquor to emphasise the maltiness.

Additional info on a mild

And finally the process details. You can see a slight difference in the mash temperatures between the two breweries here but it didn’t have much difference on the FG. The boil at Highgate you see is aiming for a massive loss of volume, over 8%, and at M&B it’s still high so a long boil is important, I wonder if that helps with the caramel and Maillard flavour development in the beers? Not mentioned in the notes are the hops. These were discussed but used only for their bittering properties the type of hop used is less important. Traditionally they would be English hops so for authenticity Fuggles perhaps, but they’ll not be adding too much to the finished product. We did discuss the likelihood that in the US an American twist on this beer would definitely be hop loaded – so not traditional but something that could be interesting.

Fermentation was pitched at a normal 17-19C and left to rise naturally up to 23-24C as the yeast got going. The relatively low OG should mean this would probably be done in 3-4 days – less if you move to cask with all those point of gravity left. So this is a quick beer to turnaround and it was often gone so fast in the midlands that it would expected to be drunk young. This means you’ve plenty of time to get yours done before the Meeting on the 25th May when Paddy will judge your efforts and interpretation.

February change of venue

Our next meeting on Wednesday 23rd February has had a change of venue away from Unit 4 at the brewery to the Hop House at the George inn. https://www.georgeinn-eton.co.uk/hop-house/

The George in Eton


It’s not too far away from our normal venue and, having had a drink in their in the past, I think is perfect for us.
The reason for the temporary change is that unit 4 is hosting the Knightclub and launch of Windsor & Eaton’s platinum jubilee celebration beer Castle Hill https://shop.webrew.co.uk/products/castle-hill-12-x-500-ml-bottles
This means they are moving their regular quiz to Wednesday and I don’t think we could compete with pondering the longest river in Asia as we discuss the beers.
Everything else will remain as normal – 7:30 start and a bring anything theme. (Remember March theme will be Easy drinking)
Look forward to seeing you there.

Bigger than ever

The second post COVID-Disaster-World WEHomebrew meeting took place at the amazing looking Unit4 WEBrew venue. Sat up on the mezzanine gives a great view down on the busy bar where a busy Wednesday night crowd enjoying the huge range of beers available.

There was a big variety of beers on offer from the club members as well. A really eclectic set of ales. From Saisons (including a surprise mystery beer I found in the shed) through to a lovely Belgian strong dark ale packaged in some fancy half champagne bottles. Along the way we sampled, IPAs, Mild and Stouts all great examples prompting in depth discussions about every technical aspect you can imagine.

Aside from the good beer it was great to catch up with members new and old. It’s been a long long time since the unexpected last meeting and it’s good to see some familiar faces. It’s also brilliant to see so many new faces, introductions and hearing about people’s set ups and what they love brewing is what this is all about. It’s a growing community of knowledge we can all share and learn from – and more free beer to try every month!

And so to what’s new. From next month (Next meeting will be Wednesday 24th November) we’ll be trying a new Beer Swap feature. So as well as the usual couple of bottles you’d bring for group tasting and discussion for Beer Swap you can bring a separate bottle labelled with your email address or other contact details (Maybe your Untapped Homebrew account) and someone will take home your beer, sit down one evening and give it the time and contemplation it deserves. Then contact you with their thoughts and feedback. This means you’ll get thoughts about it’s drinkability and not just the immediate impact our tasting sessions offer. Help overcome the Pepsi-paradox.

In addition to this new idea we agreed the Winter challenge – our informal homebrew competition. In time for the January meeting (Currently planned for Wednesday January 26th) think up, brew and package your interpretation of a ‘Winter ale’. It’s a broad category with plenty of scope for interpretation – so make of it what you will and surprise us with your innovation and skill. There’ll be more details on how it’ll work soon, but there’s no time like the present to get started on that recipe.