As a novelty. A bit like Gose, but less popular as it's harder to throw all sorts of random shit into a Dark Mild.
When I started drinking way back in the early 1970s, Mild wasn't just a standard draught beer, it was a popular one. In Newark, every pub sold it. And lots of people drank it. When I went to university in Leeds, it was extremely popular in Tetleys pubs. In the type of working class pub I preferred, maybe a third of the punters were drinking Mild. And maybe another 20% drinking mixed. In the public bar, that is. More drank Bitter in the posh rooms.
It was only when I started looking more closely in The Good Beer guide that I realsied this didn't reflect the situation everywhere. There were already parts of the country where Mild was near extinct. Scotland, Northeast England, London, Southwest England. many brewers had discontinued Mild or only sold it in keg form. The latter a sure sign that its popularity was plumetting.
The decline went back further than I realised. In Scotland, almost no Mild was brewed after WW I. though often 60/- Pale Ale pretended to be Mild. Region by region, it fell into terminal decline. Sometimes replaced - as in the Northeast and Southwest - by low-gravity Pale Ales which were Light Mild in all but name.
Some styles have made remarkable comebacks. Who could have predicted the return of Milk Stout? Which in my youth was as fashionable as a tweed jacket. Proof that anything is possible.
I just can't see that happening with Mild. Yes, plenty of trendy brewers will knock one out now and again, possibly in a bid to cross off all the "official" styles. But few introduce a Mild as a regular addition to their portfolio. While older brewers may persist half-heartedly with their Mild, whilst not daring to use the name. Instead labelling it Dark or some other mealymouthed euphemism.
Should this make me sad? As someone who loved a good Mild, yes. It does. I'd love to go to Cross Green and drink 10 pints of Tetley's Mild again. But it isn't going to happen. The world has moved on. Beer styles come and go. And almost never return. I'll just cherish the memories of a time that's gone forever. Like a Porter drinker in the 1940s.
The same fate, incidentally, awaits Pilsner and IPA. All styles have their day.
Having said this, my local brewery, Butcher's Tears, pretty much always has a Mild on tap. Sometimes two. The last couple of weeks, even on cask. Perhaps there's life in the style after all.
(I dropped by Butcher's Tears yesterday, as every Saturday. Sure enough, they had gravity-served Dark Mild. Very nice it was, too.)