Either we’re very harsh critics of our own homebrew or, after years of practice, we’re still crap at it. Whichever is true, we found ourselves this week with a polypin of what seemed to us very dry, very Cascade-flavoured, under-conditioned pale ale, which we didn’t much want to drink.
Then, in the supermarket, a sudden impulse saw us chuck four cans of Thwaites Dark Mild (£2.98) into our basket.
Tasted on its own, this was nothing special — watery, sweet with a little sickly caramel. As a mixer for half-and-half, however, it not only hit the spot, but transformed our pale ale into something magnificent. There was chemistry. The two beers complemented each other perfectly and produced something very like a good cask-conditioned stronger mild. Not a compromise but a real pleasure to drink.
Our conclusion: it’s worth keeping something like this tucked away in the larder. You never know when it might help you snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.