As May is Mild Month, and as I just happened to find myself in the Bree Louise last night (and as I've been enjoying St Peter's Dark Mild in a bottle a lot recently), I decided to spend the evening sampling the various milds they have on offer.
Great Oakley, Welland Valley Mild: my first pint of the evening was this rather thick, dark ale with reddish-brown hints when held up to the light, and a light frothy head, that had a warm, treacly, slightly over-ripe aroma. Dipping in my tongue gave me a taste of sweet, smoky hickory and a little sappiness, then a swill offered more fruity bitterness, and the swallow was coarse and sooty, with a bitter aftertaste of some dark vegetable, maybe kale or ladies fingers. On the whole this was rather more bitter and intense than I expected (or wanted) in a mild, but I'd give it a thumbs up as a fine old porter.
Milestone, Classic Dark Mild: I moved on to Milestone's slightly higher gravity offering, a dark, almost completely opaque and flat-looking beer with almost no head. This mild has very little odor, but perhaps a hint of musty earth and forest berries, a peaty fruitiness which persists into the first taste, although the overwhelming and not entirely pleasant impression on sipping this beer was how fizzy it is. It was a bitter and slightly metallic swill, but a malty, bready swallow. The tastes are all classic mild, but Milestone have made this beer too sparkly for my taste.
That was it for the milds, but while on a dark beer roll, I also tried St Peter's Ruby Red, as I've only seldom tasted St Peter's ales from a cask rather than a mass-produced and filtered bottle. This very dark ruby/brown ale was served with no head at all, and gave an intense sour berry and very slightly chocolaty smell. On the first sip I got flame-dried raisin and malt, then more firm bitterness on the swill with distinct liquorice and wet wood. The recurring theme of cake is rounded off on the swallow by elements of chewy toffee and gin-marinated prune, leaving a very bitter beer with sappy and green aftertaste, almost like swallowing an unsweetened gooseberry. Although this was a bit of a shock after the milds that made up the rest of the evening's tasting, Ruby Red is a beautiful example of its style, and really deserved to be drunk with a roast dinner on a cold evening for maximum appreciation.