Beer history Generalisations about beer culture

One reason for the decline of mild..?

dad_ipa.jpgHere’s my Dad enjoying a glass of our IPA. He and my Mum used to run a pub in Exeter. Last night, they told us about a popular belief in the 1970s and 80s that mild was “the slops”, which might have been part of the reason for its disappearance from many pubs. My Dad:

“Jack the Rat was one of our customers — he used to wear a flat cap and had a beard like Catweazel. We once suggested to him that he should try a pint of Whitbread mild and he turned it down because he thought it was a barrel made up of the slops from the drip trays at the bar.

“It actually was common for landlords to keep all that surplus and serve it up to customers as ‘mild’. We used to get our Whitbread Mild from the brewery at Tiverton [formerly Starkey, Knight and Ford]. By that time, demand for mild was so low we could only get one ten gallon imperial firkin at a time, so ours was always fresh. Jack the Rat tried it and never drank anything else again after that.

“I used to go Tiverton for a new firkin twice a week, and it was getting more popular with our customers, but by then it was a bit late — the brewery wasn’t pushing it and it was just out of fashion generally. I’ve seen more mild on tap recently, but for twenty years, I hardly saw any. Shame.”

So, a perception that mild was poor quality beer, partly based on fact, was one reason why people stopped drinking it, and why the supply began to dry up.


Disclaimer: any resemblance between my Dad and the man from the Sam Smith’s Alpine Lager pump is purely coincidental and does not represent a trademark infringement.


3 replies on “One reason for the decline of mild..?”

Yes, he does look a bit like the famous (and sadly missed) Sam Smith’s “man in a box”!

When I first worked in pub in the NE, the place of mild was taken by McEwans Best Scotch, the least alcoholic beer on offer. Always keg, always cheap. Favoured by old men.

Here’s a contraversial thought. Did the milds of the seventies pave the way for keg, with their smooth texture and unchallenging taste?

There is a bit of a resurgence of mild at the moment (see our next post), and they’re often pretty tasty, but are these particularly representative of the originals?

I’m not old enough to know.

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