As it is commonly known, the English Dark Mild or Dark Mild began life as a descriptor of beer and not a style. While stouts were a reference to strong aged beer, brewers used dark mild to refer to young beer that was not aged. Today, Dark Milds are associated with low alcohol beer that carry a light bitterness. Historically, Dark Milds had a much higher alcohol percentage hovering around 7%, and were much lighter in colour than the modern mild that is quite dark. Dark mild saw a decline in popularity due to Britain’s changing tastes, with more and more customers gravitating toward the modern Bitter (ESB). While this was happening, outside forces were forcing brewers to change how Dark Mild was brewed. Barley shortages during the war forced brewers to make lower alcohol versions.
There has been a slight resurgence of Dark Mild in modern years, with CAMRA pushing world wide for more traditional beer. Craft breweries have also created more interest bringing new life to forgotten styles.
Style Profile: The guidelines for styles are set by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Committee. The BJCP classifies the Dark Mild style as a “Brown British Beer,” and it can be found in their guidelines as category 13A, next to British Brown Ale (13B) and English Porter (13C).
Aroma: Malty aroma will be low to moderate; Hoppy aroma will be noticeable, but low; Little diacetyl.
Appearance: Ranges from copper to mahogany; Head will range from off-white to tan with low retention; Unfiltered, but clear.
Flavour: Maltiness may include sweet, toffee, roast, caramel, nutty or chocolate notes; Possible hints of fruit, raisin or plum; Dry or sweet finish; Hop & diacetyl flavours should be low or absent; Fruit esters may range from none to moderate.
Food Pairing: Mushrooms and Wild Game, Mild Cheddar, Dark Fruit Tart