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Friday, May 04, 2007

The Session #3: A Frustrating Walk on the Mild Side

Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin is the host of this month's Beer Blogging Friday and has decided that the topic for Session #3 should be The Mysterious Misunderstood Mild. The Campaign for Real Ale, the British group that fights for all things traditional when it comes to beer, has declared May as Mild Month, so it looks like Jay is on the right track.

First a little Mild history. Mild accounted for more than 40 percent of all of the beer sold in the United Kingdom in the late 1950s. By the late 1980s that number had dropped to about 10 percent. The category has never really gotten off the ground in any significant way in the U.S. and that is too bad since it is designed to be a session brew that can be enjoyed at lunch or during the course of the evening because of its moderate alcohol level. Traditionally Mild is a brown ale, although the Brewers Association's style guidelines allow for both Dark and Pale versions. The style is defined this way: Pale Mild has IBUs of 10-20, SRM of 8-17 and ABV of 3.2-4 percent and for Dark Mild, IBUs of 10-24, SRM of 17-34 and ABV of 3.2-4 percent.

One problem: Finding a Mild to enjoy in the good old U.S.A. is a chore. They do exist, as you can see by visiting Jay's blog, but try as I might I struck out trying to find one for this month's Session.

I started off by visiting the Flying Saucer in Raleigh. Even with a wall full of draughts and a ton of bottles, no mild. I then hit the World Beer Festival in Raleigh. Harpoon listed a Brown "Session" Ale in the program, which got my hopes up. However, the beer was not at the festival. I then traveled to Chicago, where the rumor is you can find Milds from both Goose Island and Three Floyds. I made several stops today at bars and retail shops, but again came up empty.

I think the closest to the style I came during the process was a wonderful brew from Greensboro, N.C. Natty Greene's Old Towne Brown Ale with IBUs of 16 and a SRM 33 fits the category, but technically at 4.4 percent alcohol by volume it is just too strong. At the Great American Beer Festival in 2006 it received the Silver Medal in Brown Ale category. It's a great ale, just not quite a Mild.

I plan to keep looking for a real Mild. Perhaps I'll stumble across one when I least expect it.

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