The Session # 99 – Localizing Mild

The topic for May’s edition of The Session is Localizing Mild and it comes from our host over at Fuggled. Here is the writing prompt….

“Each May CAMRA in the UK encourages drinkers to get out and drink Mild Ales. This May is the first, as far as I am aware, American Mild Month, which has 45 breweries, so far, committed to brewing mild ales. Of those 45 breweries some are brewing the traditional English dark and pale mild styles, while a couple have said they will brew an ‘American Mild’, which American Mild Month describes as:
a restrained, darkish ale, with gentle hopping and a clean finish so that the malt and what hops are present, shine through

An essential element of the American Mild is that it uses American malts, hops, and the clean yeast strain that is commonly used over here. Like the development of many a beers style around the world, American Mild is the localisation of a beer from elsewhere, giving a nod to the original, but going its own way.

That then is the crux of the theme for The Session in May, how would you localise mild? What would an Irish, Belgian, Czech, or Australian Mild look like? Is anyone in your country making such a beer? For homebrewers, have you dabbled in cross-cultural beer making when it comes to mild?”

If May is the month of Mild in America, here in L.A. it would be the shortest month of the year. So close to the epicenter of IPA, there is not much room on tap for the humble mild. Sure you can find Solidarity Mild from Eagle Rock Brewery. Maybe Vanilla Solidarity if lucky. MacLeod Ales might have a mild or two on tap in their Van Nuys tap room but beyond that it is Citraholic, Hammerland and their hoppy brethren. Which come in handy on IPA Day (aka the longest day if you were to sample all the available IPAs).

So, how do you reconcile the bitterness endemic to the West Coast with a style that is, well, mild?

You could spin facts hard enough that you could say that Black IPA’s or Cascadian Darks have some aspects in common with the mild but that style certainly didn’t spring from mild parentage. Besides a hoppy mild would be a large oxymoron to swallow. So back to square one we go. What would a West Coast Mild look like?

More specifically a City of Angels accented Mild. If I was to spitball ideas, maybe a smoke malt tinged mild to simulate the smog that used to hover over the freeways. Maybe a hint of Sriacha to make a pepper mild. Both ideas would probably give CAMRA a heart attack. Both are also a bit on the obvious side as well.

Two strikes against me at this point. What might better serve as a SoCal Local mild would be something that a Brit living in L.A. would want to drink that would be comfort drink with a touch of reminder of home and also reflect where you are now. Past and present as it were.

With that thought percolating in the brain, I finally came up with what might be a solution. A tequila barrel-aged mild. Mind you, not something that is aged for a year or more but something that picks up a hint of the spirit. You don’t want to get too imperial or too boozy. You want the essential toasty malt notes to be the star of the show.

Whether it would work is up to an adventurous brewer.

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