13A. Dark Mild

Overall Impression

A dark, low-gravity, malt-focused British session ale readily suited to drinking in quantity. Refreshing, yet flavorful for its strength, with a wide range of dark malt or dark sugar expression.


Copper to dark brown or mahogany color. Generally clear, although is traditionally unfiltered. Low to moderate off-white to tan head; retention may be poor.


Low to moderate malt aroma, and may have some fruitiness. The malt expression can take on a wide range of character, which can include caramel, toffee, grainy, toasted, nutty, chocolate, or lightly roasted. Low earthy or floral hop aroma optional. Very low diacetyl optional.


Generally a malty beer, although may have a very wide range of malt- and yeast-based flavors (e.g., malty, sweet, caramel, toffee, toast, nutty, chocolate, coffee, roast, fruit, licorice, plum, raisin) over a bready, biscuity, or toasty base. Can finish sweet to dry. Versions with darker malts may have a dry, roasted finish. Low to moderate bitterness, enough to provide some balance but not enough to overpower the malt in the balance. Moderate fruity esters optional. Low hop flavor optional. Low diacetyl optional.


Light to medium body. Generally low to medium-low carbonation. Roast-based versions may have a light astringency. Sweeter versions may seem to have a rather full mouthfeel for the gravity. Should not be flat, watery, or thin.


Most are low-gravity session beers around 3.2%, although some versions may be made in the stronger (4%+) range for export, festivals, seasonal or special occasions. Generally served on cask; session-strength bottled versions don’t often travel well. A wide range of interpretations are possible. Pale (medium amber to light brown) versions exist, but these are even more rare than dark milds; these guidelines only describe the modern dark version.


Historically, ‘mild’ was simply an unaged beer, and could be used as an adjective to distinguish between aged or more highly hopped keeping beers. Modern milds trace their roots to the weaker X-type ales of the 1800s, which started to get darker in the 1880s, but only after WWI did they become dark brown. In current usage, the term implies a lower-strength beer with less hop bitterness than bitters. The guidelines describe the modern British version. The term ‘mild’ is currently somewhat out of favor with consumers, and many breweries no longer use it. Increasingly rare. There is no historic connection or relationship between Mild and Porter.

Characteristic Ingredients

Pale British base malts (often fairly dextrinous), crystal malt, dark malts or dark sugar adjuncts, may also include adjuncts such as flaked maize, and may be colored with brewer’s caramel. Characterful British ale yeast. Any type of hops, since their character is muted and rarely is noticeable.

Style Comparison

Some versions may seem like lower-gravity modern English Porters. Much less sweet than London Brown Ale.

Vital Statistics


10 - 25


14 - 25


1.030 - 1.038


1.008 - 1.013


3% - 3.8%

Commercial Examples

Brain’s Dark, Greene King XX Mild, Hobson’s Champion Mild, Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde, Moorhouse Black Cat, Theakston Traditional Mild.

Past Revision

Dark Mild (2015)