A couple of weeks ago, Roger Protz quoted a Black Country brewer foretelling the eventual death of mild along with the passing of those who regularly drink it. But what if it’s just mutated?
We once wrote about a resurgence in the popularity of mild not as a mainstream beer style but as a niche oddity, like milk stout or Berliner Weisse.
We still think that’s about right – that what is dead, or dying, is the standard three-point-something ABV dark mild that too often tastes like watered down stout or, worse, watered down mild.
What hadn’t quite occurred to us, though, until we listened to our own middle-aged grumbling, was that mild might have faked its own death before sneaking back into the room with a different hat on.
Forget beer styles, forget beer history, and think about utility: what do English drinkers seem to want?
A beer they can drink four pints of without too much damage.
A beer that doesn’t demand lots of attention while being drunk – that goes down easily and addresses thirst.
That isn’t bitter, or dry and, indeed, might even be called sweet.
For much of the 20th century, that was mild.
Then, for about 40 years, it was so-called cooking lager – the kind of stuff that apalled Rheinheitsgebotists but which British drinkers took to overwhelmingly from the 1970s onward.
But now… Could it be soft, hazy session IPA?
Circa 4%. Not bitter, perhaps even sugary. And undemanding, unless you’re hung up on haze, with fruit juice and soft drink citrus flavours rather than the brittle hop spikiness.
One data point does not prove the case but it’s certainly fascinating to see the degree to which Ray’s dad, previously a keen mild drinker, has taken to beers like Moor Nor’Hop.