Until about 300 years ago, most English beer was dark, murky, and often dubiously fermented with wild yeast. It had some smoky character, as malt was dried over wood or coal fires. Often, the malt was referred to as "brown malt." At a time when a single malt was used to make beer, it is easy to see why the beers had the character that they did.Multiple batch brewing was common in the Middle Ages. Successive worts were drawn from the mash via saturation and draining of the grist. Each batch produced a lower-strength wort and was designated stout, strong brown, common brown, and intire, in decreasing order of strength. Common brown is an approximation of today's brown ale, but was significantly stronger.