Let May be now known as Mild Month. Though May has not been mild in climate (Washington's weather has swung in 30-degree increments from the 50s to the 80s) now is the time for mild ale.
American Mild Month is gaining a presence locally and nationally and should be differentiated from celebrations like IPA Day. IPA is the fastest growing craft segment whereas mild is an ale seldom seen, usually hiding, within the American brewing landscape. We've seen IPAs with "continued dominance" and that is not likely to change any time soon.
What is changing are brewers' willingness to create mild ales. This is coupled with the ability and willingness of beverage directors and bartenders to showcase these quality wares in and around DC. In DC, both the District Chophouse and Hellbender Brewing Company will be participating, as will Capitol City Brewing Company. Cap City's Director of Brewing Operations Kristi Griner describes her brewery's take on the style:
"Matt Ryan came up with the recipe and brewed a very lovely beer…The beer is brewed with Irish Stout malt from the Malting Company of Ireland, Munich, flaked barley, crystal, Caramunich, and a touch of chocolate malt. Hops are American, Summit and Cluster, and yeast is American as well. Anticipated ABV is 4.1% with 23 IBUs. Beautiful garnet hue. Should tap second weekend of May."
Both Boundary Road and Meridian Pint will be pouring "Burial at Sea," a collaborative mild ale from Baltimore's Oliver Breweries and the DC Brau Brewing Company. DCBeer spoke with brewer Stephen Jones who described the beer as follows:
"Burial At Sea", a ruby mild (3% abv), was first brewed a few years ago in collaboration with DCBrau. I can't remember why we opted to brew a mild, it may well have been for May, but Jeff [Hancock] and myself hammered out the recipe via email and brewed it at Pratt St and at Brau. I've tweaked the recipe a little and this time it was only brewed at Pratt St … the base malt is Maris Otter with Crystal 85, black and malted oats (all from thomas Fawcett & Sons in the UK). It is gently bittered with Challenger, finished with East Kent Goldings in the kettle and Fuggles in the hop back. We fermented with our house ringwood ale yeast in open fermentation of course.
Jones went on to say:
I'm delighted that there are like minded folk on this side of the pond prepared to champion this much under-appreciated style. I have celebrated Mild May many times during my tenure as the brewer of Oliver Ales and this is not the first time that we have had 3 different milds on tap. It makes me a very happy man that more people in the region will be introduced to mild ales than ever before with so many brewers and venues participating in the US Mild Month. A good pint of mild is probably my "desert island" beer if you will, but is obviously hard to come by over here … hopefully this is the start of a change to that sorry state of affairs. "Dark Horse" dark mild has been brewed at Pratt St. since before my time as a brewer here but I quietly disposed of the original recipe for one that I would consider to be more authentic … it's pretty similar to one that I brewed with the Firkin Brewery back in the Midlands of England, the heartland of British mild. To me, mild is a testament to a brewers skill … pardon my French, but if you fuck it up, everybody is going to know that you fucked it up … you can't bury your mistakes under a pile of hops! I can guarantee that often this month you can find me after a long brew day supping on a swift pint of mild in the sun on our patio before I head home for the day! A good pint of mild is a thing of beauty, a pint of cask conditioned mild is sublime … the soft mouthfeel, the complexity of the malts and the gentlest kiss of hops … fucking Hell, writing this is making me thirsty! My old local, the Nursery Tavern (about half a block in American terms from my flat in Coventry) always had a mild on cask and had a mild loyalty program … you'd get your card stamped after every pint and the 10th was free! Used to play darts and quaff mild there, happy days!
Jones also spoke of an additional collaborative, mild ale:
"Straight On 'Til Morning" is a golden oat mild, 3% abv, brewed with Kurt [Krol] & Brandon [Miller] from DuClaw. The base malt is Golden Promise (again from Thomas Fawcett & Sons) with a splash of crystal 85 and flaked and malted oats (25% of the grist). Gently bittered with East Kent Goldings and finished with Fuggles (kettle) and EKG (hop back). I hope that Mild Month/Mild May turns people on to the style … mild is such a light, refreshing beer, it's a damn shame that there aren't more around. As I said, let's hope that this celebration will help turn that around and people will stop all this session IPA nonsense! The official release party/Mild May Celebration for these beers will be at The Ale House, Columbia on Wednesday 5/6 and all will be offered on cask and draught.
For further reading on mild ale,Tom Cizauskas has a great write up, "The Audacity of Mild" at his site, Yours for Good Fermentables.