Thursday 10 May 2012

Let's Brew Wednesday - Oldham 1987 Mild

We're back in that very special territory. No, I don't mean Mild.  Nor the North (though that is very dear to me). More special than that. It's version of a beer that I know I drank. But I won't bore you with the details.
OK, I will bore you with the details. It was back in the dark days of the 1970's. A time when only the south of England was in colour. The industrial North retained its traditional monochrome. The Manchester area was mythical for me. All those little local breweries with their cracking Ales. And Wilsons.

I lived in Leeds at the time. Studied, really. I was at university, is more accurate. If I'd been studying I'd have a degree. Leeds, though another part of the grey North was in a different world beer-wise to Manchester. Leeds was a Tetley monopoly, pretty much. Don't get me wrong, I loved their Mild. But a little variation now and again would have been nice.

Me and Simon decided to make a day trip to Oldham. I can't imagine many others ever did that. The train comnection was rubbish so we went by coach. Something that was to colour my day. One of the main reaons we picked Oldham was the Oldham brewery. You couldn't really get their beers anywhere else.

Simon was an early ticker. He ticked off beers in the Good Beer Guide as he tried them. He was keen to tick Oldham's beers. There was another reason Oldham was attractive: the opening hours. The pubs stayed open until three in the afternoon, but re-opened at five. The spoilt youngsters of today can't appreciate the horror and inconvenience of afternoon closing. total pain in the arse. Oldham was the only place I knew where it was just two hours.

Our plan was simple. Get there for opening time and drink till they threw us out. Piss around for 90 minutes or so, then back to the pubs. This amazes me, but I can even remember what we did in that dead time. Walked around a bit then sat in a playground eating crisps.

I didn't drink much in the evening session. Because of the incipient coach ride home. It took over an hour and, being a bus, there were no bogs. Just the thought of being caught short on the bus brought me out in a cold sweat. So, very, very unusually for me, I was moderate in my consumption.

Despite all the details I can remember about that distant day in 1978 or 1979, I have no recollection of the most important: how Oldham beer tasted. I know I drank the Mild. That's all I drank back then, given a choice. And that was when Mild was universally available in much of the North. There's a vague memory of it being quite pleasant, but not outstanding.

Did I mention that we're doing a Boddie's Mild month here at Let's Brew? Of course, there's also Boddie's own Mild. But there's a third. A beer I'd never heard of, but found in their brewing records. One for the connoisseurs.

I see I've managed to say as good as nothing about Oldham Mild itself. AS soon as I saw the recipe, I though to myself: "Look like my type of Mild." Some dark malt in there, bit of crystal and a soupcon of hop. Hopefully one of you will brew it and send me a bottle. That is, after all, the main reason I publish all these recipes.

Time for Kristen's technical thing bit . . . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

Notes: Very straightforward and easy to drink sexy little mild. Everyone should make this. Its cheap and fast to do. You can have it in the bottle in under a week. Get on it lazy boneses!


Tandleman said...

I assume this was from the OB brewing books? Or was it the recipe the Boddington's version when they moved brewing there after closing OB and thus from Boddies records?

I doubt they are the same, though like you, I drank a fair bit of the Boddies version in the OB Joiner's Arms in Middleton. Boddies made a good fist of OB Bitter too. Some say better than OB did.

Martyn Cornell said...

Ron, Ron - don't admit the truth, that we only blog about beer so people will send us some free: nobody's supposed to realise that.

I drove from Liverpool to Manchester to try Oldham beer in the 1970s: the bitter was good, as I recall, the mild much the same as others of its type and time. Higson's mild was better ...

Ron Pattinson said...

Martyn, I shouldn't have let that slip, should I?

Ron Pattinson said...

Tandleman, this is from the Boddies records. The recipe is quite different from their own Mild, so I'm inclined to believe that they used a recipe similar to the original Oldham one.

Kristen England said...

Tandleman and Ron,

My buddy who had both confirms that the recipes fit being pretty separate. This one has more of the dark malt and is lighter, respectively. The Boddies Mild gets its character exclusively from crystal malt and color from caramel. We'll get there next week though.

RudeBoyBrewing said...

This is exactly what I've been wanting to brew lately. No doubt I will brew this in the next week or two.

Then comes the tricky part. Convincing my wife its worth the $$$ to send someone I've never met in the UK a few bottles of beer. If I lived on the same continent, you'd get a lot of beer from me.


Your Innkeeper recipe from NB placed 3rd in the first round of the NHC for me. What a great beer. Time to rebrew for 2nd round. Thanks buddy.

Rob said...

Now this is what I think of when I hear Mild. Amazing how it's changed over the years.


Kristen England said...


Absolutely! You are the 7th person now to tell me and say The Innkeeper is going to second round. So there will be a lot of great and similar beers in the second round. Email me if you want a few tweaking tips!

Edward said...

Hey Kristen!

Forgive me if I missed this...what is a good sub for caramel colourant? Black Malt? Carafa Sp? Increasing the Chocolate Malt? On the Northern Brewer forum you mention that the C120 in the Innkeeper kit is a caramel colour sub. Is that appropriate in this beer?

Oblivious said...

Thanks lads, this look like a great little recipe that's going on the to do list :)

Jeff Renner said...

I've finally found a source for caramel at our local homebrew store. A 50 ml bottle in the distillers section. It's used to darken distillate to imitate aged whisky.

Kristen England said...


Sinamar is your best bet for things like this. The kits I do for NB have to be things they can easily get. So some clones may not be the actual recipe but a few tweeks to get close with the ingredients at hand. The C120 is that.


Be sure its just not Liquor Quik whiskey...that 50ml only colors 750ml.

Google fu these types of caramel...
- Distillers caramel
- Bakers caramel - King Arthur
- Candy caramel - LorAnn
- Food caramel - McCormick
- Burnt Sugar - Jamaican
- E150 caramel - any

- anything thing with the word 'gravy' or 'browning'

Oblivious said...

Kristen, Is there any ball park amounts of carmel to get 6 srm?

Kristen England said...


It really depends on the type you have. I find that most caramel colorants that can be used in beer is right around 5000 EBC...give your take.Comparitive experimentation is simple to do with a known beer. ie salvator is ~40ebc, add caramel to water until you get to this approximate color then back calculate how dark your caramel is.

Oblivious said...

Thank you for that Kristen

graysalchemy said...

Do you have a recipe pre Boddingtons. My brewing partner has been dying for me to get hold of one since we started brewing 4 yrs ago.

Ron Pattinson said...


I'm afraid not. Though, given how different the recipe is to Boddington's, I suspect it hadn't been changed much.

graysaclchemy said...

Thanks for that my mate swears that boddington's mucked it up and it wasn't like it was in the 60's.

I will give this one ago later this year.