Then I was wondering today: what the hell can I write about? I need something quick and easy to write and full of numbers. Mild Ale in the late 1940’s seems obvious. But there’s rather a lot of them. Narrowing it down to just London-brewed beers makes the set more manageable.
Back then, Mild was still very popular in London. Though its popularity began to collapse in the 1950’s as Bitter became the capital’s favourite style. The first time I drank in London in the mid-1970’s, cask Mild had all but disappeared. And many pubs didn’t sell Mild at all, not even keg.
The immediate post-war years are also when average gravity hit a new nadir, though not quite as low as during WW I. Mild, as a cheap mass drink, suffered the most in terms of reduced gravity. You can see the average gravity of all the Milds in the table is just over 1030. And the highest gravity is just 1033.7º. For Mainline, a beer sold as a strong Mild.
Whoops. I missed the Truman Best Mild at 1042.5º. But it did cost about 50% more at 19d a pint. Back in the 1920’s, that would have counted as an Ordinary Mild. Sad, isn’t it?
There’s a reason why none of the beers has an OG under 1027º. The minimum tax on a barrel of beer assumed an OG of 1027º. A beer with a lower OG still paid that rate of tax, so it made no economic sense to have a beer weaker.
All but one example is a dark Mild. And most are pretty dark. Certainly darker than many Milds were pre-war. When many were what I’d call semi-dark, with colour values of 40-50º Lovibond. I’d reckon 80º Lovibond to be about the minimum for a properly dark Mild.
|London Mild Ale 1946 -1949|
|Year||Brewer||Beer||Price per pint||package||Acidity||OG||FG||ABV||App. Atten-uation||colour|
|1949||Mann Crossman||Mild Ale||13||draught||0.07||1032||1004||3.64||87.50%||100|
|Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.|
|Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252|
|Whitbread brewing records|
Attenuation isn’t great, averaging just over 70%. I reckon they were leaving the FG reasonably high so the beer didn’t taste too watery. But it does mean that the average ABV is below 3% ABV. Meaning you’d need to be very determined to get more than mildly intoxicated.
There are examples from 11 different London breweries in the table. And not all the breweries of the day are represented. Until recently, it would have seem weird that so many different beers of one style were brewed in the capital. Then London’s brewing industry was reborn in a very happy development. Though for all the number of brewers today, I bet there aren’t 11 Milds regularly brewed in the capital.