The Session #3: Milds

This is my first time participating in The Session. Work in lab has, unfortunately, prevented me from spending a lot of time on beer the past few months. Jay, at Brookston Beer Bulletin, picked English Mild Ales for this month's style, which happily coincides with CAMRA's "Mild Month." There's a summary post up at Brookston, which is hosting this month. Check it out to see how other bloggers fared in their quest for a Mild.

Milds aren't a style that I've had any experience with. Most of my experience with English Ales is with Pale Ales, Browns or Bitters. Milds aren't widely brewed so they're difficult to find, but I'll admit that my lack of experience is, at least, partially my fault. I've spent quite a bit of my time lately seeking out so called "Extreme Beers" or Belgian beers. I feel like I've neglected session beers in favor of stronger brews, though lately I've been trying to keep the fridge stocked with beers that are more session friendly.

There's a great post about the style at Brookston. CAMRA also has a page about the syle that gives some nice information about the style and its history:
So what is Mild? It is a beer which has tastes and textures all it’s own. Basically it is a beer that is less hopped than bitter, etc. The darkness of Dark Milds, such as Greene King XX Mild, comes from the use of darker malts and/or roasted barley which are used to compensate for the loss of Hop character. "Chocolate ", "fruity", "nutty" and "burnt" are all tastes to be found in the complexity of Milds. However, not all milds are dark. Yorkshire brewed Timothy Taylors Golden Best is one of the best examples of a light coloured mild, as is Bank's Original, the name changed from Mild to try to give it a more modern image. In Scotland, 60/- ale is similar to mild (Belhaven’s being a good example).

Milds today tend to have an ABV in the 3% to 3.5% range, with of course some notable exceptions. In fact, a lot of the Microbreweries who try their hand at mild are bringing the alcohol content back up somewhat! Mild wasn't always weaker though. In the latter half of the 19th Century, milds were brewed to about the same strength as bitters as a response to the demand for a sweeter beer from the working classes and in those days most bitters were around 6 to 7% ABV.
I had assumed I wouldn't be able to find a mild due to their rarity. Fortuitously, John Harvard's currently has their version of a Dark Mild, Midlands Mild: A Spoonful Weighs A Ton (another Flaming Lips themed name), on tap. I was able to have a few pints last Friday when I went to John Harvard's. According to their menu:
Not all ‘light’ beers are light in color, or flavorless; not all ‘dark’ beers are overpowering in flavor or alcohol. Mild ales from England’s Midlands region are a little known example. A so-called ‘cloth cap beer,’ these drinkable session ales sustained farmers through the harvest season. Dark, mellow, flavorful and surprisingly complex at 3.2% alcohol by volume, this is the perfect ale to debunk popular beer myths.
I was disappointed that there was only one mild on tap at the first NERAX session on Wednesday. It was an American version called Portsmouth American Mild Ale, which tasted more like a Bitter than a mild to me. I'll hold off on posting a review until I write up my NERAX post since I'm not sure that it's to style.

660. Midlands Mild "A Spoonful Weighs A Ton"

Beer Stats:
Brewery: John Harvard's Brew House
Alcohol: 3.20%
Serving: Tap
Style: English Dark Mild Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a clear, dark, ruby-brown with a thin, beige head that fades to a shiny film, leaving patches of lace that cling to the side of the glass.

Smell (4.0): Very malty. Notes of caramel, toffee, dark fruit and burnt sugar. I may have detected an almost smoky aroma as well.

Taste (4.0): Very nice maltiness that's sweet, but never cloying. There are notes of caramel, dark fruit, a little bit of burnt sugar as well as a mild graininess. Mellow, but flavorful.

Mouthfeel (4.5): Light-bodied, low carbonation. Incredibly smooth.

Drinkability (5.0): Very flavorful, but nothing is overpowering. The low alcohol makes this ideal for a session.

Overall (4.15): The description on the menu is very accurate. There's not much else to add... I really enjoyed this beer.

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