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Bottled Milds 2: The Midlands

This time, we tasted three bottled milds from Dudley, Nottingham and Wolverhampton, the latter from both can and bottle.

The Midlands is a part of the UK where (in our admittedly limited experience) mild still feels alive — where ‘pubby’ pubs seem to have one on draught and might even offer a choice of different brands, or different types of mild. (See Barm’s 2014 account of exploring ‘England’s Franconia‘ for more on this.)

Unfortunately — or, actually, maybe we mean fortunately? — lots of Midlands milds are cask beers by definition and either don’t seem to make it into bottles, or the bottles are hard to come by. The selection we managed to scrape together includes something from the supermarket mainstream, a mild with something of a cult reputation, and an outlying ‘crafty’-looking beer that isn’t sure exactly what it is.

We purchased all of these from Beers of Europe online:

  • Banks’s Mild (can, 3.5%, £1.49, 500ml)
  • Bank’s Mild (bottle, 3.5%, £1.69, 500ml)
  • Holden’s Black Country Mild (£2.09, 3.7%, £2.09, 500ml)
  • Blue Monkey 99 Red Baboons (£2.99, 4.2%, 500ml)

Taking them in order of ABV, we started with Banks’s (part of the Marston’s empire but still brewed in Wolverhampton, as far as we can tell) and decided to drink the can and bottle side by side in pint glasses.

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A surprisingly deep beer

Banks's Bitter

On Tuesday last week, when I should have been at the Great British Beer Festival, I found myself obliged to take a business trip to the north east of England. The Chequers at Dalton-on-Tees,  a proper village pub where I stayed, was some compensation.

The extrovert landlord keeps a small, relatively conservative selection of real ales in the absolute peak of condition. Among them was Banks’s Bitter.

It’s one of those beers you see all over the place and which we’ve always overlooked in favour of stronger, sexier or harder-to-find alternatives. On this occasion, the ticker in me led me to choose it purely because it was the only thing on the pumps I’d never tried before.

And, what do you know? It turns out it’s an excellent, characterful everyday pint. It’s got just the right balance of sulphurous aroma, acidity and malty sweetness to occupy the tastebuds and, at a moderate 3.8%, several pints didn’t leave me crying into my fried breakfast on Wednesday morning.