Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Pint of Mild

One of the beer styles I’m particularly interested in is mild. Having started my journey towards beernerdom by discovering big bold Belgian styles and then hop laced American styles I soon came to appreciate the genius of the session beer. Its an incredibly difficult thing to craft a low gravity beer that packs plenty of flavour and has the depth to keep the drinker interested.
Mild is perhaps the most endangered style of session beer. Mild went through a period of being seen as an uncool drink for old men in flat caps. It has in recent times seen something of a renaissance largely on the back of the micro brew movement. Due to its low gravity Mild is also a pour traveller so apart from the one I brew myself I tend to experience the style through less than perfect examples.
On Sunday I tried one of the biggest selling ones, Banks Original, the advertising blurb even boasts "over one million pints are sold every week". Banks changed the name from Mild when it was felt that this was hurting the marketing of the beer, although they now have returned the descriptor mild to the can. Confusingly Ratebeer list Banks Original as being a Bitter, its not its definitely a mild.

Banks Original 3.5%

Pours a tawny amber with a white head. Aromas of creamy malt, toffee, nuts (brazil?) and an almost shampooed Upholstery note. On the pallet there is some sweetness, then some very nice dry caramel character, toffee and a hint of worthers originals, finally it drys out rather sharply with even alittle harshness. Good mild, although the finish is perhaps a little dry for the style.

Latter on Sunday as I sat at the football drinking Tui East India Pale Ale which is in fact an amber industrial lager and that description flatters it, I wished I had a Banks Original, it might not be the most characterful Mild but its a damn sight more palatable and enjoyable than Tui.



Ron Pattinson said...

Banks's Original is in some ways a throwback. Its colour (darker than a Bitter, but lighter than Dark Mild) is similar to that of some Milds in the 1920's and 1930's.

Barclay Perkins brewed their X and XX Mild to about the colour of Banks's but coloured some with caramel to make it dark. You can see specs of the beers here:


Changing subject, you don't happen to know how many breweries there are in New Zealand, do you?

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

Hi Ron

Cheers for the Barclay Perkins info, I have always found the fact that Banks wasnt listed as a pale mild odd as its alot paler than most dark milds and doesnt seem that far off McMullen's AK the pften touted example of a pale mild. I guess goes in the catagory Mr Jackson described as "Tawny in between".

As for how many Breweries in NZ its not easy to answer, they come and go but here is a relativly acurate list http://www.realbeer.co.nz/nz_breweries/

Not all are actual breweries some are brands brewed on contract but that is indicated next to the Brewery name.

Anonymous said...

I too am currently going through a bit of a "thing" for milds my favourite at the moment is Boggart Dark Mild from Yorkshire I think.

I was under the impression that a mild was simply a low hopped beer and didn't refer to the alcohol content, I've had Sarah Hughes Dark mild and at 6% it certainly wasn't a session beer.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

You are absolutly correct, Mild used to mean a low hopped young beer (running beer) although modern judging criteria would call a strong mild an old ale.

Ron Pattinson said...

Mmmm . . . Mild Ale was around a long time before running beer. The term was used at least as far back as the early 18th century.

Mild - at least originally - just meant young. The lightly-hopped bit was specified by Ale. But you also had other styles of beer sold Mild - Mild Porter is an example - which were Beers and hence heavily-hopped.

In the 19th century, 6.5% wouldn't have been particularly strong for a Mild. In 1869 Barclay Perkins (them again) brewed 3: X at 1060, XX at 1080 and XXX at 1093. They were hopped like this: X 0.86 oz per gallon, XX 1.78 oz per gallon, XXX 2.22 oz per gallon.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

fair call Ron, if you go back that far it just meant young, if you go back 150 years it meant a young lightly hopped beer, no relationship with strength.

Anonymous said...

Any chance you know of a supplier of Banks Mild over here, Im bostin for a pint (or Can) but can only find the more popular ales.

gibblet73 at gmail dot com

Chris said...

Ops surrpose I should have put a bit more Detail in that pressed post far to quick.

I live in Timaru South Canterbury, and im starting to find pretty much all of the NZ beers a little boring. Ive found a regular supplier of various Ales and such. But I used to live 2 mins walk away from the Banks brewery, so would drink this very often. Just recently Ive had a real pull to having a few. Think I might have to start my own brewing again but I was never very good in the first place.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

Chris. Banks Mild isn't regularly imported unfortunately. Its an indent product which means its occasionally brought in as a one off. With the current economic climate indent import are on hold.