Monday, 12 April 2010

Year in Beer 2010 - Thoroughly Modern Mild

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.

13 comments:

O said...

My very first pint was mild - it was straight after my last "O" level exam, I would have been just 15 at the time, and the wonderful barman at the Royal William in Stowmarket served me even though I was still wearing my school cap and blazer. It cost 12p if memory serves.
I'm so thoroughly un-modern that I've been worried sick about Emmanuelle until it occurred to me to check your twatterings where I discovered the old boiler is back on form. I'll need a couple of pints to steady my nerves...

Jo said...

I spent a week in Chipping in Lancashire (great place, recommend it) a couple of Januarys ago, and discovered Timothy Taylor's Golden Best, which is technically a mild, I think. You can drink it all afternoon next to an open fire. I did. It was lovely. The pub had nothing vegetarian on the menu, but there was a village shop which sold butter pies. Happy days.

MicMac said...

Despite not working in a foundry/shipbuilders, etc I love a good mild - esp the darker stronger-flavoured ones - Hobsons, Titanic, Highgate, etc.

I'm still trying to work out if you're having a wee laugh though Eddie "a beer to speak for every East Kent office worker in need of satisfying sustenance during May, on a school night, with limited time" - according to your http://www.ramsgatebrewery.co.uk/GADDS-2010-Year-in-Beer.pdf it's 6%abv - not exactly school night supping for me :~)

Barm said...

I love mild. I might sit at a desk but then I cycle 20 minutes to the pub and want something refreshing and sustaining when I get there.

Eddie said...

Four comments? Perhaps mild isn't dead and buried after all.

Mark, Real-Ale-Reviews.com said...

I love mild and all 3 locals (near work) have at least one on at any one time). Long live Mild (just not only in May)

Melissa Cole said...

not at all, in fact the milds I just judged at WBC were pretty darn good, I'm also working on a piece about showcasing some historic milds that weren't low in alcohol, as you say it only refers to the bitterness levels - golden mild is too rarely seen too, but it seems to be very tough to get right!

Brock said...

Roll on Mild Month.
MMmmmmmmmmmMMMMILD!

Gavin Davis said...

Apart from the willamette hops a it's rather retro, indeed antique mild, Eddie. Check out this recreation of an 1832 Truman XXXX.

http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2010/03/once-upon-time.html

http://prettythingsbeertoday.com/site/node/83

Eddie said...

Gavin,

Mmm, nothing new under the sun eh?

But on closer inspection the only similarity is colour and strength. I don't think the good Mr Trueman used caragold, melanoidin and aromatic malts from Germany. Nor indeed would he have used concical fermenters with top pressure and cooling.

Apart from that, and the hops, it's a carbon copy. Well, they both contain water anyway.

Gavin said...

Conceded. I saw the "Pretty Things Once Upon a Time Mild" on the "Shut Up About Barclay Perkins" website, and was struck by the similarity to your Mild in colour, at least as I remembered it, and the strength, though I had wrongly remembered the strength of Thoroughly Modern Mild to have been higher.
I didn't mean to suggest that this is not an original product but I was interested in it's link to the past in terms of strength and colour. I was wrong about the hops, just found a recipe on SUABP web for 1864 Lovibond XXXX, ABV 9.2which uses American hops. Mods are definitely retro though.

Gavin said...

Conceded. I saw the "Pretty Things Once Upon a Time Mild" on the "Shut Up About Barclay Perkins" website, and was struck by the similarity to your Mild in colour, at least as I remembered it, and the strength, though I had wrongly remembered the strength of Thoroughly Modern Mild to have been higher.
I didn't mean to suggest that this is not an original product but I was interested in it's link to the past in terms of strength and colour. I was wrong about the hops, just found a recipe on SUABP web for 1864 Lovibond XXXX, ABV 9.2which uses American hops. Mods are definitely retro though.

Eddie said...

Gavin,

Mods certainly are retro - but Pomegranet, our designer, has got a thing about them. Must be the duck tails....