Well, after living with the first 2 versions of the American Mild for a few weeks now, I have some thoughts and ideas about the direction of this project.....
I ended up dry hopping the second batch in order to try to give it more flavor. The taste of both batches is pretty good, but as I feared, they're both pretty thin. My wife refers to them as "water beer" because of the mouthfeel and the fact that the flavor is pretty watered down. So I think that instead of the incremental changes I was gonna make, it's time for a rethink and change of direction. I've considered the fact that maybe I need to bump the OG up to 1.045 so I can get more ingredients in there, but I'm going to try a different grist bill first. With that in mind, here's where I think the next batch is heading....
4 lb. Great Western Munich 10L
2 lb. Rahr pale malt
1 lb. C60
1 lb. carapils
I may chicken out on that much carapils and dial it back to 1/2 lb., but the beer sorely needs something to give it some body and mouthfeel. In addition, I came to the conclusion that I really didn't care for the Special Roast being the primary carrier of flavor. It seemed a bit harsh, so I decided to just remove it completely in this version. I'll keep the BU:GU ratio about 1:1 or a bit less with most of the hop additions in the last 10 min. or so, and likely will dry hop it again. I'm really liking the no sparge technique for this, so I'll keep that. I bumped the mash temp up to 165 for the last batch, so I don't have a lot of room to play with there. An interesting discovery from doing that is that the change from a 153 mash temp to 165 really didn't change the body or sweetness much, if any. It certainly didn't change the fermentability. Both batches started and finished at the same gravity. That's contrary to the conventional wisdom about mash temps, but in line with research presented by Greg Doss of Wyeast at the 2012 NHC in Seattle. So I think I'll stick with the 165 mash temp, since I seldom mash that high and this is a good chance to collect some data about it.
I had expected this project to be a challenge, and I'm certainly getting that. The flavor of the first two batches is actually pretty good...there just isn't a lot of it there. I'm hoping I don't hit a brick wall on this, but only more experiments will tell!