Monday 12 February 2018

Pennine mild... flat cap and whippet optional....

People often refer to us as a "craft cask" brewery.  Which is nice.  And confusing.  Myself, I've no idea how to categorise us and see no reason to pigeonhole us as anything; we are a small brewery (small being under the 5000hl annual progressive beer duty limit) making modern style beers in, we hope, a "drinkable" style which means they are meant for session drinking, not sipping... which is what beer is all about.

Anyhow, after that self-congratulatory preamble, here's the meat... we have re-brewed one of the beers which is often talked about but rarely requested (surely a paradox?), one which Gazza is intensely proud of, being his little pet project when it first came out!  it's now on brew three and, as is traditional at Hopcraft Towers, slight amendments have been made to the recipe to make it better and "awesomise" it; the base malt is now proper Mild malt, the ratios of melanoidin malts has been increased, and the hopping has been amended slightly... but it's still our interpretation of that incredibly rare but incredibly good style of Pennine Mild.

So, I'm guessing most people know what a mild is... or think they do.  I really can't be bothered to go into the stories, arguments and explanations of what mild is (that's what Google is for) but, suffice it to say, nowadays - if you can find any - it's a 3.5%-ish dark beer with (usually) a roasty taste.  All well and good, but there also exists a much rarer style of mild which is mainly found in the Pennines in the North of England - hence the name - but also appears in the Midlands and, although it's now extinct, once exisited in pockets in the Thames Valley and Solent.... golden mild or, to give it it's best known epithet, Pennine mild.

The only real example left in continuous production is Tim Taylor Golden Best, although Ma Pardoe's in the West Midlands is similar enough to be considered a close relative.  The beer style is sub-4%, with crunchy malts, biscuity flavours and a sweetish, grainy finish.... not very exciting to read, but when done right it's a corker of a style and very, very drinkable, not to mention very rare nowadays.  Some brewers have produced on-off (or occasional) examples of the beer but it's still clinging on to life by it's fingertips.

So, as Gazza likes Pennine Mild, he decided to brew one.  It look a while to get the recipe right (and it's still not right now) but the first brew drew some good reviews, and more importantly it tasted like a Pennine Mild!  We're now on brew 3 and have done a drastic revamp of the malt bill including using proper mild ale malt to give more body and mouthfeel to the brew.  The hops, unusually for us, take a back seat with Polish Magnum and Junga providing a spicy, fruity and sweetshop character to proceedings... but very subtly.

So, brew 3 of a pale mild.  I didn't expect I'd be saying that 5 years ago I can tell you.   


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