Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Irish Mild Ale?

My post about Irish Red Ale's lack of pedigree prompted some useful responses. Which have me once again contemplating the history of Irish Ale brewing. And questioning the assumptions I'd made.

I'd never seen any evidence for the brewing of Mild Ales in Ireland. You know, the things designated by a number of X's. Thanks to my readers I know have. And it's raised a whole new set of questions. I like questions, on the whole. They give me a reason to do more research. And unearthing stuff no-one knew is so satisfying.

Let's recap on what we know so far. First, there's an advert from 1867 for Fitts of Limerick:

So they were brewing an XX Ale in the 19th century.

Getting more recent, Perry's brewery in Rathdowney, county Laois were brewing this range of beers in the 1950's: Perry's India Pale Ale, Perry's Pale Ale, Perry's XX Ale, Perry's X Ale.

Something called XX Ale was brewed in both the 19th century and the 1950's. I think it's safe to assume that it was around in the intervening years, too. The next question is: what was it like? Was it similar to the X Ales brewed in England? Did it, like the English versions change colour around 1900? What was its gravity? How was it served?

That's enough questions to be going on with. It's now time to start searching for the answers.


Gary Gillman said...

Ron, the phraseology of "supplied with" for mild ale and stout suggests an importation of these articles, particularly when contrasted with "our brewings" for pale ale - the opposite of what I would have expected, but there you go.


DrJohn said...

The Old Limerick Journal quotes George S Meason's book Tours of Ireland (1866) as naming the brewery as "Matthew Fitt & Sons, Ale and Porter, and Pale Ale brewers, Newgate"


Gary Gillman said...

Hmm. Maybe Fitt sourced (contracted out) mild ale and porter, or some kinds, from other Irish breweries but concentrated on pale ale as its specialty.


Ron Pattinson said...


"supplied with" could also mean "we have supplies of". I'd be inclined to believe that they brewed all of the beers mentioned.

Oblivious said...

Glad the information helped :)

Brian C. Becker said...

In addition to those other Irish beers, perhaps you or your readers could enlighten me as to what "Dublin Style Cream Ale" was? Seeber Brewing Company of Elizabeth, New Jersey brewed this shortly after the end of US Prohibition.

Gary Gillman said...

Cream Ale appears to have been an American invention. The appeal to an Irish heritage was probably fanciful or marketing-driven, but I can't rule out that an Irish cream ale did exist at one time which had an influence in America.

American cream ale - you can find the term in trade ads back to the 1800's - was a lagered ale, i.e., a top-fermented beer aged cold, or a blending of a lager and an ale.

There are still a few sold and even craft brewers have tried their hand at the style.


Martyn Cornell said...

Somewhat late to this party: the Irish term for mild ale seems to have been "sweet ale": there are several references to it in old ads.