Would you look at that: three Sundays in a row! Anyone would think I'm an alcoholic! Don't worry, there's marking on the way and then all this activity will cease whilst I plug away at those papers in a desperate effort to make students gain the marks they deserve and create futures. I shall try to maintain the Thursday update schedule as best I can though.
On today's halcyon sunshine summer's day I found myself trying the next of the local micro-brewery's (Nutbrook) offerings: The Mild Side that has a lovely picture of the Death Star on the front. For that reason alone I would have tried it.
Would you like to read further on this delectable little ale? It defies explanation in places, so be warned!
On opening the 'snick' was warning enough that this was going to be a good ale, one to savour and enjoy. There was a brief wisp of CO2 and then it was gone, no huge fizz and no froth despite the warmth of the day and the fact that I don't do chilled ales. Even Dragonfire (here) failed that test a little, frothing a bit when opened in the summer sun and the heat, but not as badly as the rather disappointing Random Toss (here). No matter, it passed this test so well that I even forgot that there was a test in the first place. Pouring revealed a very dark and mysterious ale. Not ruby dark, like I'm used to, nor the oily black of Oyster Stout (here) or chocolate ales, more an earthy loam that looked as though it would crumble in my hands. But brown. I felt almost Saxon farmer looking at it, putting me in mind of The Wake and the poetry that I've sort of tried and failed to make work on this blog.
There was a small head, matching the small strength of 3.6% ABV, and the minimum of fuss made in creating it or having it slowly dissipate. The aroma, and it was an aroma, was of nuts and berries in a way that has me seriously questioning my sanity and worrying about beard growth, beer guts and general beer bore-ness. And, yet, there's no denying the fact that there was definitely a smell of berries and nuts about this ale. It easily surpassed the faint smell of garlic from our planters and edged out the barbeques being made elsewhere on the street. Not overpowering or particularly strong but insistent enough to make its presence felt.
In all honesty, I wasn't really sure what to make of something that was 'mild'. It's a type of ale that I've rarely even seen, let alone had a chance to buy, and the description had me wondering about whether I'd done the right thing. Still, on the first sip there was a definite milky texture to it, tempered with yeasty stabs from the bubbles, a light carbonation, and a very small malt in the undertone. Middle of the taste was all about that malt, remaining subtle and light above a creamy feel but without bitterness or spicy yeast. Toward the end it fades to a tang, a hint of citrus, rather than the bitterness I have come to associate with bottled ales. In many ways it is similar to the Ameretto concoctions made for me back at University but less sharp and certainly more appealing than that. the aftertaste remains smooth and matches perfectly the summery smells and ambiance of the garden - growing vegetables and herbs rather than pungent flowers and the like.
Despite the low ABV this does still manage to pack a punch, like a weight buried beneath padding in a sock, that gently lays you out beneath the strength and then leaves you with a pleasant headiness that is actually rather comforting. I can imagine that this would work well as a winter tipple but it is surprisingly effective in the heat of a sunny day when left in the shade to relax and drink slowly. Great outdoors ale and I would heartily recommend having one in the garden and having it with a proper meal. The texture means that it can be had with barbeque meat and vegetables without losing any of the taste as it simply smooths over any rough patches. In fact, at other points in the year, it would go very well with curries or Chinese food. An excellent late evening ale!