An ale aptly named Mild simply isn't going to catch the imagination of many US craft beer drinkers. Their predilection is more often for beers big, strong, bitter. In other words, not mild.
They don't know what they're missing.
What a Mild Ale actually is has transmogrified over the history of the style.
According to British beer historian Ron Pattinson, mild, in the 18th and 19th centuries, may have referred to more-ish, unvatted, 'young' beer. Nowadays, Mild Ale is usually brewed as a gently roasty or toasted dark-brown ale (although there are paler iterations), to less than 4.5% alcohol by volume (abv), with lesser hop aromas and only gentle bitterness (per the U.S.-based Beer Judge Certification Program).
These latter-day Mild Ales are thirst-quenching but they certainly are not bland. At their low alcohol levels —'standard' beers hover about 5% abv, while many craft beers are significantly higher— Mild Ales are often referred to as "session beers": drink a couple in 'a session' at the pub, and safely blow a .01 into a breathalyser.
In the UK, May is Mild Ale Month. In the US, few brewpubs —let alone breweries— produce a mild or celebrate the month. Here in the mid-Atlantic region, Pratt Street Alehouse of Baltimore, Maryland, is one that does.
I enjoyed a pint of the brewery's Dark Horse Mild, on draft, at the brewpub this past Saturday —beating the May is Mild 'deadline' by 2 days. Brewer Steve Jones is an advocate for the style: he also brews Mild Ale the eleven other months of the year.
Note the film of of condensation on the pint glass in the photograph. The afternoon was typically humid for Baltimore; the pint hit the spot.
- Ron Pattinson has written a book called Mild! that is a wealth of information on the history of the style.
- US beer writer/blogger Lew Bryson maintains a blog specifically devoted to Session Beers: here.
- Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, usually posted on Saturdays, and often of a 'good fermentable' as subject.