Travis’s Matrimonial Mild – The Beer

Travis's Matrimonial Mild

This beer is mild in kick but full of flavor, just like the man of the hour himself. This lightly-hoppy, malt-forward beer boasts a toasty, carmelly flavor – perfect for a long night before the Big Day.

The Beer
Travis’s love for the Yards Brawler gave me a nice starting point for this beer.  Being able to taste a beer as a reference is a huge help in designing something similar.

And this beer stands right up next to the original.  Actually, I think it has more maltiness than the Yards Brawler.  When compared side by side, the Yards’ taste is more subtle than the Matrimonial Mild, which is upfront with a more robust maltiness.  It’s really rich and roasty with nice amount of caramel flavor mixed in, and I’m amazed how it smells just like my apartment on brew.  The hops are there, but only subtly to help balance the flavor.  There is a sweetness that creeps up a bit towards the end of the bottle, which is probably because the beer finished with a higher gravity than I wanted.

Overall, this beer was met with many positive reviews, and seem to be thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.  Especially the groom, who carried a bottle around with him for most of the night.

The Man of the Hour and His Beer

The Man of the Hour and His Beer

Recipe Formulation
The recipe formulation was a bit tricky.  I’ve never brewed a Mild before, so it was great to have a reference to build on. Unfortunately their site gives you little information about what goes into the beer.  Googling around also yielded few results for a clone recipe, or any information at all around a “Pugilist Style Ale.”  So I had to go with was an English Dark Mild Style around 4.2% ABV.

Grabbing my trusty copy of Brewing Classic Styles, I started building my recipe with the 4.2% ABV goal in mind.  Milds typically lead with a toasty, roasted malt flavor, so I included a mix of Amber, Brown, Chocolate and Black malt on top of a modest amount of Maris Otter.  Since the hops are there primarily to balance the malty sweetness, I went with 1 ounce of East Kent Goldings, a low Alpha Acid hop used mainly for bittering maltier beers.  To stay true to this style’s English routes, I chose a London Ale yeast from Wyeast to ferment this beer.

I bounced my recipe off of my brewing mentor Joe Postma.  He countered with a similar recipe, but one that simplified the malt bill a bit and pulled in a few more Mild characteristics he thought were lacking.  Most notably was the inclusion of Crystal 60 to impart a lot of caramel and roasted flavors into the beer.  In turn, the Amber malt was eliminated, as was the Black malt since the beer was going to be fairly dark as it is.

Matrimonial Mild boiling away

Matrimonial Mild boiling away

Fearing the East Kent Golding hops would be a little too much, I swapped them our for Fuggles.  I had a lot of success with them in the past, and found other brewers who like them in Mild recipes as well.  I also switched the London Ale yeast to a London ESB yeast after reading an experiment by my buddy Jason Rodriguez where he found the London ESB strain produced a pleasant fruitier flavor than the London Ale yeast.

Collecting my first runnings

Collecting my first runnings

This was my first all-grain brew, so of course I was nervous going in.  Luckily, brew day went pretty well.  I nailed my mash and mash out temps, and batch sparging went well.  The Fuggles clogged the filter in my brew pot, so I ended up having to dump the mash through a funnel with a filter to get it into the primary.  I also under-collected the amount of wort needed, and added about a gallon of water to the primary to hit 5 gallons.

Fermenting Away

Fermenting Away

I left the beer in the primary for 10 days before checking the gravity, only to find the beer was 5-7 points higher than I wanted it to be.  This means the ABV would be lower than I wanted, and the beer would have a more robust body.  Since my goal was 4.2% ABV, I was a bit upset by this.  Then I think I remembered the problem – I think I forgot the yeast nutrient on brew day, meaning the yeast could have fallen dormant earlier than they should have.

To try to wake the yeast back up, I moved the primary upstairs, where the ambient temperature is about 10 degrees warmer than my basement.  After a week upstairs, the temperature increase helped me shave 2 points off the gravity, ending up at 1.016 – about 3 points short of my goal.  This was good enough for me, so I went ahead and bottled it up.

Overall, from a brewing standpoint, I’m extremely pleased with this beer and the praise it’s received.  For my first all-grain brew, I think I have a winner!

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