As a young man, I can remember noticing that breweries in Southeast of England often had a beer called Old Ale of around 4.5%. Beers that looked and tasted suspiciously like a strong Mild. It’s taken a while, but when I finally got to look at brewing records my suspicions were confirmed. Harveys, King & Barnes and Adnams all brewed beers of this type.
I was more used to Northern Old Ales like Old Tom or Owd Roger, beers that were considerably stronger. It obviously confuses the hell out style guideline writers as they only document the stronger type. Personally, I’m a big fan of the weaker type as they resemble pre-1931 Mild Ale. It’s a cheeky way of getting a taste of the past.
So you shouldn’t be surprised that Adnams Old Ale has a grist that is essentially the same as that of XX Mild Ale. Quite an interesting grist it is, too, with a couple of types of dark malts in the form of amber and crystal. As I’ve mentioned several drillion times, these types of dark beer were mostly coloured with sugar and caramel.
Which isn’t to say that XXXX doesn’t contain No. 3 invert and caramel. I suspect drinkers wouldn’t have been impressed had Adnams tried to sell a Mild coloured with chocolate or black malt. Because, as I now realise, No. 3 invert is the signature flavour of Dark Mild. That’s why most American versions, which try to get colour from dark malts, just don’t taste right.
Proper Dark Mild. Give it a try. It might change your life. Mine changed in 1976 when the Cardigan Arms installed handpulls.
|1949 Adnams XXXX|
|mild malt||8.75 lb||80.82%|
|amber malt||0.50 lb||4.62%|
|crystal malt 80L||0.50 lb||4.62%|
|no. 3 invert sugar||1.00 lb||9.24%|
|Fuggles 90 min||1.00 oz|
|Goldings 60 min||1.00 oz|
|Goldings 30 min||1.00 oz|
|Mash at||148º F|
|Sparge at||170º F|
|Boil time||120 minutes|
|pitching temp||59º F|