Homebrew Recipe: Wild Rice Mild

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Illustration by David Witt, DWITT All-Purpose Illustrations

This recipe appears in Michael Dawson’s book, “Mashmaker: A Citizen-Brewer’s Guide to Making Great Beer at Home.” Learn more at mashmakerbook.com.


This month, some brewers are freaking out about wet hopping with Humulus lupus. But we’re going to get down with a dark mild, mashed with some good old Ziziana palustris—the native grain and state emblem of Minnesota, better known as wild rice.

There’s no fall seasonal more appropriate to Minnesota than a wild rice beer. Besides being indigenous to the Great Lakes and culturally important to the people native to this region, wild rice is highly nutritious—and not just for the drinker. Wild rice is rich in all kinds of stuff that yeast cells dig, like zinc, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium. Its sweet, nutty flavor and body-enhancing proteins will be right at home in a dark mild.

Going by the numbers

A dark mild will be our base beer. Starting gravities below 1.040 point to a final ABV around 3–4%, which won’t crowd our showcase grain with intense competing flavors. It pours in a color range of 12 SRM (pale russet) to 25 SRM (verging on black), so you might think of it as a little brown ale or a little porter. Bitterness can range from a very modest 12 IBU to a still-pretty-modest 25 IBU. We’re going to keep it on the low end to ensure the malt and wild rice profile is this beer’s centerpiece.

Like many other adjuncts (looking at you, useless pumpkin), the wild rice won’t have any enzymes to break down its starchy components into something fermentable. So we’ll need to mash it with a good diastatic base malt. Cooking the wild rice ahead of time will accomplish some of the scut work for the malt enzymes and ensure a speedy, painless mash.

A recipe to try

Wild Rice Mild
Target OG: 1.036–1.038; Target IBU: 13

Shopping list:

Grain

• 5 pounds Rahr 2-row pale malt
• 10 ounces Simpsons dark crystal malt
• 4 ounces British pale chocolate malt

Adjunct

• 1 pound wild rice, cooked prior to brew day. Note: This recipe was formulated with cultivated wild rice in mind. Feel free to substitute the hand-harvested, hand-parched version if your stocks allow.

Hops

• ½ ounce glacier hops (or equivalent)

Yeast

• Your favorite English ale strain; I’m using Wyeast 1968 London ESB

Next page: Key points and brewing method

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