Tuesday 21 July 2020

Dark Mild Ale (part three)

It was areal shock just how few hits I got in the British Newspaper Archive for "dark mild ale"' Literally, just a handful.

I had more luck - expanding the search, or rather, contracting it - to "dark mild". Which threw up this one:

 Suffolk and Essex Free Press - Thursday 18 December 1924, page 1.
Weird that they call it "Mild Beer" but "Bitter Ale". Even weirder that I drank a pint of XX, in the brewery tap, Less than two years ago.

I've occasionally seen the term "Mild Beer", but not very often. Being the sort of person who obsesses about this sort of rubbish, I've some data to back up this assertion.

I've spent years dredging information from old UK brewery price lists. Which I've put in a spreadsheet, as you do. It has over 4,000 entries. These are the only breweries I could find using the term "Mild Beer" to describer one of their products:

1902 Brook's Cubley Brook Brewery, Sheffield
1884 Leney, Wateringbury
1884 Adey and White, St. Albans
1890 Shepherd Neame, Faversham
1891 St. Anne's Well Brewery, Exeter
1882 Mackeson, Hythe
1882 Gardner, Ash Brewery, near Sandwich
1875 Devenish, Weymouth
1898 WE & J Rigden, Faversham

It's an extremely small subset. While there are hundreds, probably thousands, of instance of the use of the term "Mild Ale".

Why was I in the Greene King brewery tap? Because I was visiting their archive. Which is why I know exactly how strong all those Greene King beers were.

Greene King draught beers in 1935
beer price per barrel price (per gallon) OG
XX Dark Mild Beer 68 23 1029
AK Light Bitter Ale 88 29 1033.2
IA Best Bitter Ale 114 38 1040.7
S Stout 114 38 1046
BA Burton Ale 130 43 1044.6
BBA Strong Ale 154 51 1059
Suffolk and Essex Free Press - Thursday 18 December 1924, page 1.
Greene King brewing records held at the brewery, document numbers AC93/1/1.

Interesting that Greene King still had a Stout and a couple of Strong Ales on draught. Even more unusually they brewed three Stouts.

Draught Stout and Extra Stout are obviously the same beer. Special Stout really was pretty strong - 1065.4º. There was also an Oatmeal Stout at 1044º. With, as was traditional in most of the UK, bugger all oats in it.


David Harrison said...

Perhaps a south east thing:back in the 70s in Canterbury, "beer" meant Mild to the older drinker. Especially in Shepherd Neame pubs.

John Clarke said...

Just wondering if the lower strength Burton metamorphosed into Abbot?

Ron Pattinson said...

David Harrison,

whereas in London, Beer meant Porter and Ale meant Mild.

Ron Pattinson said...

John Clarke,

no, it didn't. Abbot was a new beer.

Martyn Cornell said...

You've reminded me that "IA" - "India Ale", presumably – could still be seen occasionally on those odd miniature porcelain mock handpumps Greene King used as the tap handles on its top-pressure beer founts in the late 1960s and early 1970s - I wonder it that was to "original" name of the IPA?

qq said...

Notable that 5 out of your 9 mild beers are from Kent (Wateringbury is near Maidstone).

petalia paul said...

I assume as the advert shows Sudbury Brewery, Sudbury, Suffolk this is the former Olivers brewery that Greene King bought in 1919 and closed in 1932. although I guess most of the beers were actually brewed in Bury st Edmunds

Ron Pattinson said...


IA did indeed predate IPA, but they coexisted for many years. IPA was about 4º stronger.