Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The first Dark Mild

I’ve been wondering a lot about Dark Mild recently. About when beer of this type appeared, but also when the term itself was first used.

The earliest reference I can find of the phrase “Dark Mild” is surprisingly recent and in an oddly relevant place. The date is 1924 and the place an advertisement for Greene King’s beers. It’s used to describe their XX Mild. A beer I published a recipe for recently.

This is the advert:

Bury Free Press - Saturday 20 December 1924, page 9.

They brewed an interesting range of draught beers, which included both a Burton Ale and a Strong Ale. Sadly, I’ve only one analysis of Greene King beers from before the war. Coincidentally, it’s for XX. Knowing that it had a gravity of 1029º has allowed me to estimate the OG of their other beers. Which I cross-checked with a Whitbread price list where I do know the gravities.

This is what I came up with:

Greene King draught beers in 1924
beer price per barrel estimated OG
XX Dark Mild Beer 76 1029
AK Light Bitter Ale 88 1034
IA Best Bitter Ale 114 1044
S Stout 114 1044
BA Burton Ale 130 1050
XXX Strong Ale 154 1059
Greene King price list in Bury Free Press - Saturday 20 December 1924, page 9.

Pay particular attention to IA, which must the beer now known as IPA. I’m interested to see that it’s Best Bitter strength and that their Ordinary Bitter was called AK. Another one for my collection of AKs.

I was shocked at how few hits I found in the newspaper archive for the phrase “Dark Mild” before WW II. It was just a handful, mostly in adverts for Newcastle Mild Ale. It can’t have been term that was much used.


John Lester said...

Greene King were still brewing a beer called IA in the early seventies, alongside IPA, though by then it was described on the pump clip as “IA Light Bitter”; and Frank Baillie says it was “a lighter bitter [than IPA] mainly in and around Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury”. It had disappeared by the mid-seventies, and I don’t think I ever tried it.

Martyn Cornell said...

I wonder if that Burton Ale was an ancestor of the BPA (= Burton Pale Ale) GK still brews today to blend with 5X to make Strong Suffolk …