Tell Us About Your Local Beer Mixes

The cover BEER magazine #40

Our feature on traditional beer mixes — dog’s nose, lightplater, brown-split, and so on — is in the latest edition of CAMRA’s BEER magazine.

We know we didn’t capture every single regional speciality or all of the many local names for the mixes we did list, and we were prepared for the steady trickle of “But what about…?” messages that have been coming our way on Twitter.

The thing is, this is the kind of stuff that people often know but don’t often write down — a general problem with studying the history of beer and pubs — and we’d love to get more of these on record.

So, with that in mind, here’s your chance to tell the world about  the beer mixes you know, and/or the names by which they go in your neck of the woods. Just comment below, specifying:

  • What the mix is called.
  • How it’s made.
  • And the specific pub, neighbourhood, town or region to which it belongs.

No variant is too minor, and duplicates are fine — useful, even.

It would be interesting to know, for example, whether simply ‘mixed’, which has come up a few times, always refers to mild and bitter. We guess it’s synonymous with half-and-half, and changes depending on which two beers (one light, one dark) that are most commonly mixed in any given region.

31 thoughts on “Tell Us About Your Local Beer Mixes”

  1. Not local but Axe Edge IPA and Black Horse Double Black IPA at the Buxton Tap.

    Battle Axe.

    Phenomenal.

  2. In Liverpool mixes such as Fifty – half dark mild/ half draught Guinness; Golden – half bitter/half lager
    Brown bitter – half bitter, bottle of Mann’s Brown (or other); brown mild – half dark mild/bottle of brown ale.

    Mixed; half mild/half bitter. Both Liverpool and Manchester. Not seen any other mixes as such in Manchester.

    1. Mixed was always half bitter, half mild in Leeds and was pretty popular in Tetley’s houses.
      As a student at Aston, there was a local speciality in the student union bar called The Bogman; bottle of Special Brew, bottle of Gold Label barley wine, topped up to a pint with a double vodka. Got it’s name from the first person to drink one, who downed it in one and then moaned “Where’s the bog, man”. Pretty horrible drink…
      Also in that bar at the time was a cask-conditioned cider called Bulmer’s Original. Beyond the name, it had nothing in common with the dreadful fizzy crap that currently uses the name; it was cloudy, rather orange and a very pleasant pint. It was also 46p a pint, and the bitters were 60p….
      Anyway, it formed the basis of the Traffic Lights. A pint with black was the red light, a straight pint was amber, and one with a shot of Blue Curacao was the green light, and inevitably, the aim was to down each one in one in turn. The green light was actually rather good.
      And in some pretty dreadful pub in Liverpool I decided to mix a bottle of Guinness with a bottle of Mackerson. Turned out quite well; later experiments found that I prefer a ratio of 2:1 Guinness to Mackerson, but I also liked the Guinness with just a dash of the milk stout.
      Most of my experiments were based on the fact that the pubs concerned didn’t have any drinkable beer, or at least none to my taste, but my oddest, the Number 42, was inspired by a Chinese sweet and sour as well as H2G2; Rodenbach and Mackerson (again).
      Have to say, though, that these days I don’t see the need.

  3. Again, not so much local as brewery-specific: I was at the Newfield Inn at Seathwaite in the Duddon Valley (see https://www.pubsgalore.co.uk/pubs/61066/ or https://whatpub.com/pubs/FUR/1255/newfield-inn-seathwaite) many years ago when it was a Theakstons pub – at least, theirs were the only beers on offer. As I recall, there were just Best Bitter and Old Peculier, so I said to the landlord that their beer I liked the best was XB and it was a shame it wasn’t available. “I can make one for you,” he said. He went on to explain that XB is a mixture of two-thirds Best Bitter and one-third OP, and that’s what I drank for the remainder of our stay.

  4. In late ’60s – early ’70s North London it was typically (Courage) light and (Courage Best) bitter ……

    1. I was serving that in the early nineties at the Clissold Arms in Fortis Green. There was also a mix of John Courage bottled bitter and Courage Best called a JC and B.

  5. In some Austrian pubs, it is possible to order “a G’mischt’s” (ein Gemischtes, lit. “a mixed one”), which is half-and-half pale and dark lager. It has become a lot less common because Austrian dark lagers of the last few decades were rather sweet and have pretty much completely fallen out of fashion. I’ve heard that mixing pale and dark lager is also done in the Czech Republic, but it’s nothing that I’ve ever come across in Germany.

    1. I came across mixes of dark and pale lagers in Czechia, I was told it was the origin of the Granat (Garnet) “style”. They still exist in Germany too.

  6. No mention of Snakebite? Perhaps too chavvy for the gentle readers of BEER ;-)?
    Article got the brain being dredged for memories of pub teeth cutting in 1970’s West Country. Our stamping ground was a crescent running from the fringes of Wiltshire, in a band taking in the Dorset/Somerset border, swinging down towards, but not reaching, the sea. Mere, Wincanton, Langport, Ilminster, marked the northern edge; Cranborne Chase, Shaftesbury, Sturminster Newton, Dorchester, the southern. So quite a lot of mixes involved cider.
    Even then Snakebite was regarded as a bit ‘chavvy’, long before that term was invented. (Poor Man’s) Black Velvet was moderately popular, particularly in pubs that had a reputation for their Farmhouse Cider being on the rougher of the rough side. Any bottled Stout would do, but as bottled Guinness was what most pubs stocked that was the prevailing choice. With draught Guinness making its way into even the most rural pubs at that time, some liked to ask for that combination. But many landlords refused to serve it as it was a pain to pour.
    Cider Top, with a half inch of lemonade or less frequently ginger beer, was common enough; but the most popular ‘Top’ for cider at that time was Vimto – usually the fizzy version, but occasionally the cordial. As an aside, while publicans were allowed to charge extra for a beer with a (it was usually) lemonade Top, even though the cheaper lemonade was replacing some more expensive beer in the pint, it was not legal to charge for exactly the same Top process with cider. How that situation came about have no idea.
    When people were looking for a serious hit, Cider & Gin could be turned to. Don’t recall it having any special name, merely Cider & Gin. The process started with a pint of cider with a single gin; then often more shots of gin were gradually added as the glass went down, so ending up with something that was more Gin & Cider.
    With little Mild around in our region, a Half ‘n’ Half was almost always a Bitter/Pale and Stout combination, but never heard it called that: always referred to as a Black & Tan, in that area in those days. Not to be so ordered in the ROI, obviously. Brown Split almost always used Mann’s Brown, again because that was the only bottled Brown most pubs seem to stock. More common in Eldridge Pope/Palmers/Devenish areas, where plenty of locals did not particularly rate their Bitters, than in Wadworth/Hall & Woodhouse areas, I recall. Ushers (by then not independent, though the brewery at Trowbridge remained operational, and there were still pubs badged under that name), and Gibbs Mew (who still were independent), both had a smattering of pubs within our drinking zone. Mention, because Gibbs Mew had one claim to fame: Bishop’s Tipple (a completely different drink to what Wadworth now put out under that name). It was available on cask, and also bottled. Don’t remember if they did a range of bottle sizes, but they definitely did a nip, because that was a popular option to buy on the side to pour into one of their pints, especially in winter. Anyway, ” A Wiltshire Nip, please,” (was it their Bitter was called Wiltshire?, or just because they were based in Wiltshire? – can’t recall), got you just that – a pint accompanied by a small bottle of Bishop’s Tipple.
    Whilst lime was the most usual cordial to go in Lager, blackcurrant was not uncommon; and simply called Lager & Black, though the resultant colour was more an unappealing shade of pinky puce.

  7. In Oxford in the 1980’s, many Morrells pubs did a good trade in “Light ‘n’ bitter” and in “Dark ‘n’ bitter”.
    These were Morrells Best Bitter with Morrells Light and Morrells Dark Mild.
    Youngs pubs in Oxford sell plenty of “Light Special”, which is a bottle of Light Ale in a half of Special.

  8. In Birmingham in the 80s a Mickey Mouse was – I think – half bitter/half lager

  9. I used to really enjoy a Ram & Special in the Young’s pub round the corner from my office back in the late 80s

  10. Snakebite was referred to as Red Diesel or just Diesel in more rural areas of the north.
    Ram & Spesh was the favourite in Epsom back in the 80’s I’m told.

      1. yep, thats what I understood a snakebite to be.
        Lowenbrau, Merrydown, blackcurrant.
        You can see why lots of landlords were reticent to serve

  11. What do you call stout & bitter (or stout & red ale) if you’re in Ireland and/or don’t want to risk offending anyone?

    1. People don’t mix their beer in Ireland. Smithwick’s with a Guinness head exists, and it’s called “Smithwick’s with a Guinness head”.

    2. I remember my father referring to stout and bitter as a ‘mother-in-law’, which might risk offending one person if you’re unlucky but not a whole country.

    3. My dad did once ask for a Black and Tan in a Dublin pub, during the Troubles. Luckily, it was a very friendly Dublin pub and he got educated politely, although at the cost of a large round and several new friends. 😉

  12. At the Ship, Fitzrovia, London, they mix draft Peroni and Canadian Moosehead. The Canuck stuff is more a topper. This is called the Wolf, I believe.

    Gary

  13. Old Pussy,Robinson’s Old Tom and bitter was a popular drink in the Falcon at Incline Row Aberdare in the mid 2000’s and Son of a Dog,Bullmastiff Son of a Bitch and Bullmastiff Mogadog,10% abv,was drunk at the Royal Hotel (RIP) in Penarth at about the same time

  14. A drink requested sometimes in the Midlands in the 1970’s was a Legover,a mix of cider and Cherry B

  15. Black and Tan used to be popular on Tyneside – half and half McEwans Best Scotch and Guinness.

  16. Snake bite and black was much more popular with my unenlightened friends in Woking when I were a lad than a plain snakebite. And occasionally some would have Guinness, cider and black. It had a big ice cream float head with uneven purple colouring the white.

  17. On a more juvenile note, I believe a thing in Cumbria is to mix Jennings’ Snecklifter with Cockerhoop to form ‘Cocklifter’ (sigh). I don’t know how widespread it is, but I had a pint of it bought for me in Pooley Bridge on Ullswater and nobody batted an eyelid. It’s alright but more of an opportunity for an innuendo than a genuine improvement of either.

  18. My beer drinking apprenticeship was served in East Kent in the mid to late 70s. Real ale was Sheps or, if you were lucky, Whitbread houses served Fremlins, taken over by them in the 60s but still brewing locally in Faversham . Fremlins bitter was a lovely cask pint, but if you wanted a bit of a kick before you yourself were kicked out at 10 30 during the week, or the Fremlins was a bit lacklustre, you asked for a County Ale and bitter. County Ale was a delicious fruity strong ale, from the same brewery, originally a draught beer, but latterly in a half pint (?) bottle. It was a lovely combination. You knew the pub was a good one if the landlord poured a generous half before he opened the County Ale. Equally if the bastard poured your bottle into the dimpled pint glass first, tossed the bottle in the bin then topped the glass up with bitter, he was a tight sod and you wouldn’t go back to his pub in a hurry. Luckily one pub I frequented employed an old school mate as a barman, and he’d pull a full pint before taking the top off the County Ale and handing it to you with a wink. Generous servings aside, part of the fun was topping up the bitter yourself, organising the increased strength to your own satisfaction , and enjoying the foamy head each time you added some. A similar drink was English Ale and bitter. English Ale being another quite strong bottled beer from Whitbread, marketed as being ideal for diabetics, as most of the carbs were turned to alcohol, so they said. Don’t know about that but it was a nice bottled beer and livened up many a dull pint.

  19. In my youth (early eighties) I recall a Snakebite of Merrydown Vintage Cider & Carlsberg Special Brew being called ‘Brain Damage’; quite possibly an accurate description of the consequences of letting it pass your lips. I don think I ever tasted it, having a deep seated feeling nothing good could ever come of drinking it. Those I did witness drinking it would soon appear possessed by the spirit of a lumbering man-beast intent on pinning the tail of a donkey on their very soul while undergoing an exorcism. Basically it got you quite drunk quite quickly.

  20. In Northallerton in N. Yorkshire, one of the Theakstons pubs offered a pint of ‘Standatd’ which was half Ordinary Bitter and half Old Peculier; justified by the OP improving an average beer, and the average beer took some of the alcoholic edge off the OP – this was a pub next to an Indian Restaurant where you could go, after placing your order in the restaurant, have a couple of pints and when your food was ready for the table, a member of staff would come into the pub and let you know the food was ready to be served.
    A couple of years later I was drinking in the Bell in Nottingham City Centre and they were aware of this beer mix.
    Back in the days of teenage drinking in the excellent Prince Albert in Park Road, Lowestoft (worth an article on its own for its architecture and design of its bar fittings), a specialty of the house was their ‘Special Shandy’ which was served in a half pint straight glass and consisted of half Adnams Bitter, half lemonade (obviously) but with the added ingredient of a shot of Angostura Bitters which took the sweetness off the lemonade and replaced it with a spicey, gingery flavour; I think it came with a slice of lemon as well – perhaps a forerunner of in the mid 70’s of Alcopops

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