A fair while ago now, possibly even last summer, we went to visit the Tramway Museum at Crich and I was on the lookout for some different ales. One of the bottles I picked up on finding out that they did some ales that were local in bottles, was the Black Ram Stout (click here) that was really rather nice and a welcome return to stouts for me after something of a long absence. However, also from Wentwell, I picked up the mild that had been brewed specifically for the museum, as that is also one of my things (see the Brooklands Goldstar as evidence by clicking here, though I haven't been to that museum). So it is that, tonight, I am having the rather nice and plain looking Tramway Mild from Wentwell.
I shall resist the pun this time however, even if I do take a photo of our tidier but still rather messy kitchen in the background.
I have a thing for milds and I never really see them about, or else I am somewhat blind, either way, this is a rare style for me to try and I'm really quite looking forward to it. Would you like to know more?
It promises a creamy head and a smooth malty finish when poured on the bottle. The first thing to note, therefore, is the fact that the head starts out being a bit more frothy than creamy and created by something of an active pour. It is a good chestnut colour, reflecting red in the harsh light, and the head does become creamier the longer it remains, collapsing in on itself a little as you leave it to stand and that is no bad thing. Not much of a nose, but something of a dry malt sticks around if you lean in and take a big sniff. It's a proper workmanlike ale with allusions to the sort of muck and grease that comes with running a tramway, obviously intended by the brewers. Something of a vinous quality in the way it pours and settles in the glass.
Almost immediately I am drawn in to taste and there is the dry malt as promised front and centre as one would expect, all meagre 3.7% ABV of its power doing exactly what a mild should do and shuffling quietly into the mouth to stand and be counted before marching through the taste to the back of the throat to simply warm and refresh without being a big hitter or a bully that pounds the rest of the flavours into submission. Dry on the nose, and a fresh malty opening on the tongue that sticks around, letting the wetness of the brew take hold of the mouth. Not as thin as a lager nor as fat as some of the pales that I've been having lately, this is the sort of flat-feeling (but not actually flat) room-temperature ale that the UK is rather famous for abroad. I happen to like it and think that it does an excellent job of being a drinking ale that would be welcome after a hard day. I haven't had that hard a day, but the quick shopping trip for much needed essentials coupled with the arduous games of Cluedo with the Girlie have combined to make me glad of the time to relax at the end of the day, that's for certain.
Soft on the tongue and into the middle where the malt does rather flex its muscles a bit but without getting burly or annoying. This is very much brewed with the Tramway Museum in mind and I imagine that it goes down well with the mechanics and the drivers and the conductors at the end of a long day ferrying the public up and down in engines that need regular tender loving care. I can see this being drunk by the likes of the student on work experience happy to get out of the academic setting and into a real job. Overalls covered in oil and grease and carbon, hair pulled back and a face that is so far unsullied, this over-age student will enter the pub with his work mates and get clapped on the back for a day well-done and then bought a pint of this stuff as an entry into that working man's culture.
I, as a middle class twonk, will watch on from the sidelines at once warmed and scared by the display, knowing that my twaddling about the flavour and the effect of the ale in the mouth, along with relating of the after-taste like it is something that ought to be sought, am never going to be a part of this romanticised culture which I observe. I shall slink silently away from the snug that is awash with male emotion back to my own home and my surroundings to drink and partake of such brews alone and in front of the wood-burner that is less for immediate relief and more to do with green-shit twuntery that more befits 'disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' than the working man down the garage. I will prattle endlessly about the end of an age I barely understand. And this mild is the perfect way to do it really, being so soft and forgiving and, well, mild.
Enjoyed best in the flowering of full employment and with the sure knowledge that sacrifices are being made for a better tomorrow and a better future for all. The War was won, the Isles are safe and the future beckons us all to a life of leisure. Give up comforts that your children will have their tomorrows with so much leisure that they won't know what to do with it all. Nurture that resentment that it was not delivered and get angry at the indolent youth who also expect that life you laid out for them on some level. Blame them. Blame everything. Tear it all down and come back to drink the mild that reminds you what it was once, seemingly, all about.