Session #88 Announcement

Illustration by Robert Wykes, 1938.
Illus­tra­tion by Robert Wykes from What’s Yours? (1938). They’re laugh­ing because order­ing ‘bit­ter and mild’ is a faux pas – it should always be ‘mild and bit­ter’.

We haven’t hosted the monthly beer blogging Session since 2008 and, noticing that there was still a vacancy for 6 June with only weeks to go, decided it was time for another go.

The beer blogging Session logo.The top­ic we’ve cho­sen is tra­di­tion­al beer mix­es.

In his 1976 book Beer and Skit­tles ear­ly beer writer Richard Boston lists sev­er­al:

  • Light­plater – bit­ter and light ale.
  • Moth­er-in-law — old and bit­ter.
  • Granny — old and mild.
  • Boil­er­mak­er — brown and mild.
  • Black­smith –stout and bar­ley wine.
  • Half-and-half – bit­ter and stout, or bit­ter and mild.

We’d like you to drink one or more from that list and write about it on Fri­day 6 June… and that’s it.

We’re delib­er­ate­ly aim­ing for some­thing broad and acces­si­ble, but there is one rule – no ‘beer cock­tails’! It’s been done, for starters. So, mix two beers, not four; and steer clear of syrups, spir­its, flavour­ings and crushed ice.

If you need fur­ther inspi­ra­tion…

  • Try order­ing them in a pub – do bar staff still know the ropes?
  • Use your own sources to find a tra­di­tion­al mix not on Boston’s list, e.g. Ram’n’Spesh in Young’s Lon­don pubs.
  • Make the same mix with sev­er­al dif­fer­ent beers – are there rules for the opti­mal Granny?
  • Exper­i­ment – Black­smith IPA with black IPA, any­one?

And here’s more food for thought, from T.E.B. Clarke’s What’s Yours? (1938):

If, as usu­al­ly occurs, you have found bit­ter too bit­ter and mild too sweet (as well as too uneco­nom­ic), you might well resort to “mild and bit­ter”.… Should you have dis­cov­ered that you like Bur­ton, or “old”, except for its slight­ly metal­lic flavour – anoth­er ver­dict com­mon among begin­ners – make “B.B.” your next order.

Let us know when your post is up either by com­ment­ing here, email­ing us at, or Tweet­ing at us.

UPDATE 12/05/2014

More inspi­ra­tion from Twit­ter, some peo­ple have sug­gest­ed beer mix­es that have worked for them in the past:

  • Matthew Cur­tis – “Mikkeller beer geek break­fast with Odell IPA has been my great­est suc­cess.”
  • Ghost Drinker – “mix a Brook­lyn Black Choco­late Stout with a Mort Subite Kriek…”.
  • Mar­tyn Grif­fin – “Oakham Cit­ra and Sarah Hugh­es Ruby (or a clone I HB’d) is an absolute win­ner.”
  • Al ‘Hopsin­joor’ – “The afore­men­tioned Hard­core and Para­dox… [Brew­dog] Hard­core and Rip­tide (a Rip­Core if you will- thanks to ) [Mag­ic Rock] Unhu­man & [Bux­ton] Tsar Bom­ba, [Mag­ic Rock Can­non­ball & Beard­ed Lady… [Sum­mer Wine] Dia­blo & (again) Beard­ed Lady, all good mix­es. [Bux­ton] Axe Edge & any good stout!”
  • Alan McLeod had some suc­cess with a 50/50 mix of Orval “as sort of a brett con­cen­trate” with a ‘farm­house cream ale’.
  • Rowan Molyneux – “Best mix I’ve found: 1/2 Hard­core IPA with 1/3 Para­dox Heav­en Hill (both Brew­Dog). Not tried with low ABVs yet…”

27 thoughts on “Session #88 Announcement”

  1. Excel­lent sub­ject. I’ve been mix­ing beers, tak­ing my cue not just from books like Beer And Skit­tles but beer his­to­ry in gen­er­al, for decades. It’s just malt and hops, and you can mix them any­way you like, just like brew­ers mix malts in the mash. (Ever look at con­tem­po­rary craft recipes with its 6–7‑8 malts and grains?).

    It is real­ly sur­pris­ing though how many peo­ple look at you as if you’ve denied some­how that the earth orbits the sun when doing this. I mean, you can (as a brew­er) add lemon ver­be­na, white pep­per, bit­ter orange, absinthe, kale maybe or what ever you want to sai­son but god for­bid you should mix a heavy-foot­ed APA with a bland crafty to cut the heavy hops and restore some bal­ance. It’s not rock­et sci­ence, you can do it too. I some­times make an 8‑beer + blend just to even out all the eso­ter­i­ca of our intre­pid craft brew­ers (god bless them) and you’d be amazed how good the results can be. I look for­ward to this Ses­sion.


  2. When I drank Youngs reg­u­lar­ly years ago it was very unusu­al to get a life­less pint.
    On the occa­sions when I did a bot­tle of Ram­rod was the pre­ferred liven­er.
    How­ev­er, when order­ing it there was always a fris­son of ner­vous­ness – Ram­rod being the name of a pop­u­lar gay leather bar in NYC I used to pass occa­sion­al­ly.
    I rarely touch Youngs on vis­its to Lon­don these days – it’s a shad­ow of its for­mer glo­ry since it was sold.
    You’ve only got to look at the open­ing page on its web­site to guage where pri­or­i­ties lie.
    ” Spring has sprung and we can’t wait to share our new Spring menus with you. ”
    Ye gods.

  3. A boil­er­mak­er to me was beer with rye whisky mixed in. If, instead, the rye was in its own shot glass at the bot­tom of the pint glass and the beer care­ful­ly poured around, it was a depth charge as you get all the rye at then end.

  4. Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s I was always fond of a Direc­tors’ and Bull­dog (John Mar­t­in’s Pale Ale in the Bel­gian mar­ket) when in a Courage pub. Sad­ly, I don’t think this love­ly mix­ture had a name, and you can’t repli­cate it as Bull­dog is no more.

    Stout and bar­ley wine sounds like a promis­ing mix­ture and one I’ve nev­er tried. I’m think­ing Mean­time Porter and Fullers Gold­en Pride or Guin­ness For­eign Extra with Gold Label.

    1. Could be inter­est­ing to use the Bel­gian-brewed John Mar­t­in’s Pale Ale in a… D&B, shall we call it?

    2. I once redec­o­rat­ed some­one’s lava­to­ry walls after a night of Direc­tors and Bull­dog in a pub out­side Har­low in ear­ly 1976 – and not in a good way. Dan­ger­ous stuff.

  5. To do it prop­er­ly would involve smug­gling a bot­tle of John Mar­t­in’s into a pub that sells Direc­tors’, drink­ing half the pint and top­ping it up – a prac­tice that I per­son­al­ly would be uncom­fort­able with.
    Also, sad­ly, Direc­tors’ just does­n’t seem to me to the same as it was in those days, and John Mar­t­in’s Pale Ale (now con­tract brewed in Bel­gium) now def­i­nite­ly isn’t what it used to be. Bull­dog was a love­ly beer. (Same with Gor­don’s Scotch)

    1. The oth­er approach, then, might be to work out what the spe­cif­ic qual­i­ties of a D&B were, and then iden­ti­fy two beers avail­able today which approx­i­mate the expe­ri­ence when mixed.

      Which bit­ter on the mar­ket today is clos­est to your mem­o­ry of ‘Gold­en Era’ Direc­tors’?

      (Sor­ry to go on – this is inter­est­ing!)

      1. I’d say Marston’s Pedi­gree but I’ve no doubt there will be detrac­tors.
        Fun­ni­ly enough Bass has remained pret­ty con­sis­tent over the years which is prob­a­bly why I can’t recall ever hav­ing to mix it with any­thing else.

        1. Sor­ry, but wrong on both counts in my hum­ble.…
          Ped is noth­ing like the old Direc­tors’, and Bass is noth­ing but a pale shad­ow of what it was before they scrapped the unions.
          The clos­est to the old Direc­tors’ is the cur­rent Direc­tors’, but it isn’t quite the same. Nor is John Mar­t­in’s, but that’s what you’d be best using to try to get a feel of what it was like.
          Now that I think about it, I had a cou­ple of evenings on Gales’ Prize Old Ale and HSB – the clos­est you’re like­ly to get to that these days is GK Old Crafty Hen (but that’s not that close).
          Sic tran­sit glo­ria mun­di

          1. I had a pint of Bass in Atlanta about three weeks ago.
            I’ve not idea where it was brewed but it was cool,malty and in tip-top con­di­tion.
            Admit­ted­ly it was­n’t the warm,flat Bass that I used to drink but,by jove, it was tasty.
            Pedi­gree has been shit for at least two decades imho.

  6. I agree that John Mar­t­in’s has changed, what a pity. It was a good-bod­ied Eng­lish bit­ter with aro­mat­ic, flow­ery Eng­lish hops, a touch fruity too. Direc­tor’s! I remem­ber that. All the Courage beers were won­der­ful in the 80’s with estery, flow­ery and sweet malt notes. All the good old days.

    I would­n’t use Pedi­gree for the mix because Direc­tor’s did­n’t have the Bur­ton Snatch. Hook Nor­ton’s Old Hookey would be good per­haps. For the bit­ter, any tra­di­tion­al bot­tled bit­ter with a flow­ery Eng­lish (not cit­ric Amer­i­can) hop­py taste should work.


  7. arent the “new­er” beer mix­es that were sug­gest­ed quite a dif­fer­ent thing from the “clas­sic” beer mix­es, not that Im say­ing its wrong, its just one seems to be exper­i­ment­ing for exper­i­ment­ing sake, ie what hap­pens if I mix these two beers togeth­er that dont imme­di­ate­ly leap out as oh yes that might work, whilst the “clas­sic” style is about blend­ing beers togeth­er that you know com­ple­ment each oth­er. Id quite hap­pi­ly drink a MiL (and yes for­tu­nate­ly able to wan­der in most pubs and peo­ple know what you mean) as a repeat ses­sion beer if they were both on, Im not sure Id be able to drink some of the oth­er sug­ges­tions at all.

  8. Stono – yes, they’re quite dif­fer­ent, but since that’s where peo­ple’s heads went, we thought it worth includ­ing here.

    It also occurred to us that sev­er­al of the mix­es we men­tion above use mild which is hard to find in large parts of the UK, and almost impos­si­ble in the US, so a bit of flex­i­bil­i­ty is required.

    1. Its still a lot eas­i­er to find than old ale though.

      A lot of the mod­ern twists seem to reveal a latent unful­filled desire for beer that is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly dark and hop­py. A mild and a mod­ern pale ale would make a palat­able mix.

      Per­haps its because you rarely see black IPAs on draft and when you do they’re often far too strong.

  9. Back when Dog­fish opened their brew­pub in Gaithers­burg, MD, I could have sworn my friends and I invent­ed the “75 minute” which was a half and half of 90 Minute and 60 Minute. It real­ly took the sweet edge off the 90, but gave the 60 a sig­nif­i­cant ABV oomph.

    I was pleased (and sur­prised) when Dog­fish actu­al­ly start­ed bot­tling their own ver­sion of 75 minute, but the hon­ey they add kind of negates the rea­son we blend­ed the two in the first place.

    Great top­ic. I’ll def­i­nite­ly be join­ing it.

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