Greene King Mild At Last

Greene King sign

“It’s taken us longer to find a pint of this than it did to get hold of bottles of Westvleteren 12,” Bailey said in anticipation of his first sip of Greene King XX Mild.

Those robots among you who are able to judge beer purely on its flavour won’t understand how several years of hunting and hype influenced our ability to assess this pint of humble mild with any objectivity.

It seems odd to use the word ‘hype’ in relation to mild from a little-loved regional brewer, but that’s what we’ve been subjected to, in a quiet, rather British way — “Even if you don’t like GK IPA, you must try their mild,” uttered in a tone usually reserved for “There are some rather interesting carvings in the nave…”

We got our chance in the wake of a Brew Britannia reading in Cambridge last week when Pintsandpubs and Beertalk kindly agreed to walk us to the Free Press, a cute, historic back-street pub with a reliable supply of XX, on the way back to the station.

It was a bit of an odd experience, to be frank. The pub had several interesting cask ales and a nice selection of ‘craft’ and ‘world’ beer in bottles, so turning up with two well-known beer geeks and ordering mild earned us some funny looks. Those looks got even funnier once the Westvleteren comment had slipped out.

You won’t be surprised to hear that GKXX is not as good as WV12, but then it has only 3% ABV compared to the latter’s 10.2%. It wouldn’t be unfair to call it watery, and cask-conditioning rendered it no more complex or exciting than the various kegged milds we enjoyed (we actually did!) in Manchester the other week.

But it is a drinking beer.

If you’re prone to tasting and thinking but want a night off, it’s just the thing: your notes will be done in two sips (dark brown to ruby, chocolatey, sweetish) leaving you free to sling it back in volume, with your brain free for chatting, reading a book or completing a crossword or two.

Forcing ourselves to find something else to say, we spotted a resemblance to a Wadworth mild we tried a couple of years ago, and to home brew we made using our own interpretation of a 1938 Starkey, Knight & Ford recipe. That makes us think that it (a) contains a proportion of flaked maize; (b) uses a good slug of brewing sugar; and (c) probably hasn’t changed much in the last 60-odd years.

The final verdict: if we lived in Cambridge, Bailey would probably drink it all the time, but Boak will be quite happy if she never tastes it again. (See — we don’t always agree!)

And that’s that itch scratched.

6 thoughts on “Greene King Mild At Last”

  1. I found it about 3 weeks ago in the nearest pub to my house in Preston. Didn’t expect much and was not disappointed.

    Had no idea it was rare.

  2. its not that rare…in Suffolk at least…5x thats the rare one and more than a match for Westvleteren 12 🙂

    I dont think GK tend to push the Mild XX so much as it wont fit into most of their pub estate pickings, so it becomes abit of an oddity and why you tend not to see so much of it elsewhere.

    but its one of those beers Id want to check how long it had been on, because of GKs reputation tends to mean it gets overlooked by beer drinkers and ends up sitting there for perhaps longer than is good for it.

  3. Probably GK’s best offering, but by no means the best example of a mild. Look out for Elgood’s Black Dog, also available in a few Cambridge pubs. More body, more flavour – and it is black!

    1. I remember searching for this in my underage drinking days. Eventually found it in Watford at the Estcourt or The Nascot. I’m pretty sure the GBG said they still brewed KK but I never found a pint of that.

    2. Yes, I had a good night on the XX at the Portland a couple of years back. Then finished with a slightly hoppy beer (possibly even St Eds? Surely not?) and it tasted really great!

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