Where I grew up the men drank bitter: proper Boddington's for the Dad's and Wilson's Fizzy Keg Chaz and Dave Bitter for us lads. Mild was enjoyed too but not in the legendary volumes of folklore, rather as an occasional alternative. The style is typified by low alcohol, low hop flavour and low bitterness. The only highs being roasted, coloured malts and sweetness. If it doesn't sound exciting that's because it isn't, well not in the volumes we drink today. To properly enjoy mild of olde one needs to sample far more of the stuff in a single sitting than is currently acceptable simply because, in order to really *get* it, one needs to tune into its very raison d'etre, that is, to slake the thirsts of parched miners and mill workers as they return home from a hard days graft. The stuff is brewed to be enjoyed by the gallon and so a few sips here and there isn't going to cut it.
So it follows that since the reason for drinking mild has disappeared, so too have the sales and thus the brewing of it. Anything going out of fashion like that is red rag to a bull where our friends, CAMRA, are concerned and so, yearly, May becomes 'Mild Month' and we're all cajoled into brewing and drinking the stuff completely out of context. We spend a less than physically gruelling day at our desks, returning first to home to play our parental roles and have dinner, then to the pub for lasties, a satisfying couple at most, and you want us to drink a 3% beer that hasn't got any hops in it? No way.
We did try and join in. For several years GADDS' Dark Mild was wheeled out during May, and pretty good it was too: Best Mild in the SE and finalist in the Champion Winter Beer of Britain. But it failed to excite the modern beer drinker in East Kent and just got harder to sell as the years went by. So I dropped it and, realising 'tradition' was not going to keep my brewery busy, I dropped any further pretence of *being* traditional. Besides, what's the point when Britain's Oldest Beer is brewed nearby?
Back in the olde days, to before the days of heavy industry, to when my Lancashire was still green, mild and bitter were brewed to varying strengths. Essentially, 'mild' meant young and lowly hopped, not bitter. There was 'mild' and 'bitter' of varying strengths and styles to suit most pockets and occasions. And so, the term 'mild' has never, necessarily, meant dark, weak and fairly bland. It meant, and means, *not bitter*.
So, with that in mind, we now brew a Thoroughly Modern Mild, a beer to speak for every East Kent office worker in need of satisfying sustenance during May, on a school night, with limited time available. It's brimming with delicious malt flavours: sweet crystal rye, toasty amber, aromatic melanoidin and juicy caragold, all smothered with a grassy, slightly resinous and earthy Willamette hop. There's no bitterness to this beer, but it is stacked with full flavour and a massive 2 pint satisfaction rating absolutely guaranteed.
I'm brewing it tomorrow (if I can fire the boiler up) and you'll be drinking it in May.