03 November 2017

Mild enthusiasm

Session logoEoghan at the Brussels Beer City blog hosts November's session, on the intriguing subject of missing local beer styles: the kinds of beers you'd like to be able to get your hands on regularly but can't. As a man of simple drinking tastes, I tend not to pine for beers that aren't available to me. If you find your hobby is making you miserable it's time to find a new hobby. But when a local brewer asks, as they do from time to time, "what kind of beer will we brew?", my answer is generally "cask mild".

Admittedly it's not the most exciting of beer styles, but then it's not meant to be. A good mild is light and easily gluggable yet has a colourful bouquet of flavours. It's the sort of beer you can choose when you just want a beer without thinking about it, though one which is in no way bland or insipid. I'd love to see it in regular rotation in Ireland, but we rarely do -- Dungarvan Brewing deserving an honourable mention for occasionally dabbling.

Naturally, after all the nagging to get a new Irish mild onto the bar, when Trouble Brewing finally stepped up to the challenge I was out of the country. I watched on Twitter as Walk On The Mild Side landed in at UnderDog and was promptly drained by the masses in just a couple of days. I thought I'd missed the boat until the brewery mentioned that The Black Sheep still has some left. Hello!

It was true; they had. Saved by the 10% mark-up compared to UnderDog's pricing, perhaps, but €5.50 is still quite sessionable for Dublin these days. Full marks for appearance (black) and ABV (3.7%): all in accordance with my own personal mild style guidelines which, to be honest, is really just St. Peter's Mild.

The aroma is very roasty, almost to the point of being acrid, which put me on guard immediately. That was largely assuaged by the first sip, which had sweet milk chocolate and caramel as its main feature. A jammy blackcurrant flavour follows this, and only then does the roast reassert itself: a dry charcoal burntness that grows quickly and lasts long into the finish. A little too long, really: this tarry acridity in the taste was the only part I didn't like. Nevertheless, despite my preference for more fresh coffee and dark fruit characteristics, this mild still does what I'm looking for. The body is full enough for it to be satisfying and easy drinking yet the flavour is pleasingly multifaceted.

This beer really underlined my desire to have something like it popping up on a regular basis from a variety of producers. By coincidence, a cask of West Kerry's superb Uncle Columb's Mild was hooked up to the handpump at UnderDog on Tuesday and last I checked was still on. Two simultaneous Irish milds available in Dublin might not exactly qualify as a golden age, but by golly I'll take it. More please!

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