Examples of this style are relatively rare today - you'll fondly remember GADDS' Dark Ale, a 4% version that reached the finals of the Champion Winter Beer of Britain a few years ago - but generally speaking this kind of ale is left without an audience: the mines have shut, the factories mechanised and the mills have been knocked down. Modern man seeks not a belly full of Mild to slake his thirst after an 8 hour shift in front of his computer - he quite rightly heads home for tea and nips out for a quick and tasty pint later on.
Now Mild was not always dark, weak and sweet. The name referred to any beer that was suitable for drinking soon after brewing. You see, way back, brewers would have two classes of beer: Keeping Ale and Mild Ale. Either could be dark, pale, strong or weak but the difference would be one of bitterness - in brewing Keeping Ale many hops were used for their preservative qualities.
So what is today's Mild like? There's little point in brewing miners ale so lets reinvent, hoping perhaps to rejuvenate. Darkness is out; lets go for an amber colour, that way we can use a mixture of malts with none too overpowering. Hey, if we use a little amber malt with its faintly roasty aroma we'll have elements of dark flavour in a pale(ish) ale! That'll surprise. We can use aromatic and juicy malts too and hop diligently not for bitterness, but for flavour and balance. We'll end up with a bit of the past and much of the future.Available from next week across the finest of East Kent's hostelries.