01 May 2015

We're all mild now

"Localising mild" is the subject that Al, of Fuggled and American Mild Month, wants us to tackle for this month's Session. If America can develop her own sort of mild then why can't everywhere else? It's at this point that I go all historically pedantic and point out that almost every beer we drink nowadays is mild. Originally, the term just meant ready to drink immediately rather than requiring ageing. But, to put a bit more of a specification on the task Al has set, I went looking for Irish beers that fulfil the basic promise of mild: unfussy straightforward beers designed to provide the basics of refreshment without too much by way of sensory bells and whistles. By coincidence, I had two potential candidates in the fridge, both from the Kildare brewery Kelly's Mountain.

So, to begin, Revolution (not to be confused with the red ale of the same name from Big Hand). It's a little higher on the ABV scale than normal for the style, 4.8% ABV, but no harm there. The colour is a perfect dark copper, a nod sideways at the English bitter in which Irish red's roots lie. There's summer fruit in the aroma but it's somewhat drowned out by a sickly tang, all harsh metals and stomach acid. And that's what comes out in the flavour too, though to a less shocking extent. There are enough strawberries for it to pass as a sweet Irish red, and also enough dry tannins to bring brown bitter to mind also. It only takes a minute of warming for the beer to soften, with gentler roasted notes soothing the jangling harshness. By the time I was half way through I realised I had something quite complex on my hands, but at the same time it's not one I'd be running back to: that metallic saccharine tang never quite goes away.

To follow, Revenge ("best served cold" - arf!) a 4.5% ABV ruby porter. Of course, until well into the 19th century*, the idea of a mild porter would have been nonsensical, but since I doubt this porter has spent much time in giant oak vats I think it's fair game. Ruby? Oh my, yes. Flawlessly crystalline and a deep blood red. The aroma offers up some lovely dark chocolate while it tastes... well, it tastes like dark mild. There's that glorious plummy damsony tartness with just enough wholesome cereals set on a carefree light body and gently carbonated. Thirst-slaker or pinky-out sipper, you can take your pick. You can do both. But it's not a beer to drink only one of, and if that isn't a hallmark of proper mild, I don't know what is.

My only beef with Revenge is that it's one of those beers that adds fuel to the myth that dark mild and porter are somehow historically related. On this evidence, however, I couldn't be happier that these days our porters are mild.

*ninja edit, prompted by Ron's comment below.