Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Time to Brew

Well, summer --what we had of it this year-- is over and fall is definitely here. Overnight temperatures are dipping into the low 20s and the birch trees are losing their leaves. That means it's time to start homebrewing again!

My summers are usually too busy and (sometimes) too warm for brewing, so I follow the traditional practice of brewing fall through spring and just drinking homebrew during the summer. So I always look forward to the coming of fall and the resumption of brewing.

One of the best things about being a homebrewer is your ability to produce styles of beer which are generally unavailable commercially in the United States. One of my favorites of these rare styles is the British Mild. Rare even in Britain, it's essentially unknown here.

Mild is a light-flavored, malt-accented beer that is
readily suited to drinking in quantity. Refreshing, yet flavorful, it origins are somewhat obscure, but by the end of the 19th century it had evolved into a refreshing drink for the workers in Britain's massive industrial base. Relatively low in alcohol (3.1-3.8% ABV), it is definitely a session beer, meant to be consumed in quantity over time without making the drinker overly intoxicated. In Britain, Milds are typically served as cask ales and bottled versions at the traditional low alcohol levels do not travel well, hence their lack of exposure here across the pond. My particular version is an attempt to recreate Holden's Black Country Mild, an excellent example of this style from the West Midlands region of Britain, clocking in at about 3.7% ABV. I brewed on Sunday and intend to rack to a secondary this weekend and bottle on 12 October. The brew should be ready to drink by Halloween. I'll let you know how it turns out.

The sad fact about the Mild style of ale is that it has become very rare, even in Britain. Incredibly popular early in the 20th century, it gradually lost market share to other styles, partially due to the perception that is was a blue collar (or as our Brit cousins would say, a "cloth cap") beverage. This is unfortunate, especially given the growing concerns about drinking and driving. A beer style that is full of flavor and character while being fairly low in alcohol would seem to be a great option. I've tried to convince a couple of my local breweries to take a chance on it, dropping off bottles of my attempts as examples, so far without success. I'll try again with this batch. I'd love to see this style undergo a revival here in the States, as so many others have.

Until then, I'll just keep brewing my own. Cheers!

P.S. Don't forget the release of the Winter Warlock at Kenai River Brewing today! Grab your growlers and pick some up.

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