IT MAY BE A GLOOMY JANUARY OUTSIDE BUT INSIDE THE PUB IT’S WARM AND CHEERFUL ESPECIALLY WITH A COUPLE OF PINTS OF EXMOOR ALES’ MILD
Exmoor Ales is greeting 2018 with the release of a refreshing and appetising mild, the first time the Wiveliscombe-based brewery has ever produced this historical style, which up until the 1950s dominated bar-tops.
At 3.5% abv, the beer is low in alcohol as well as being soft in its malt character, and is perfect for the new year, a comforting and homely pint that demands to be tried by those drinkers who might be looking for something different from the pale-coloured beers that all too often dominate the pump-clip parade of many a pub.
Emerging in the 19th century, mild has suffered a drop in sales since its heyday in the first half of the 20th century, and is nowadays a rare sight outside its traditional heartland of the West Midlands, which is where the brewery’s Managing Director Jonathan Price comes from.
‘Part of the motive for brewing a mild comes a little from my Midlands heritage,’ explains Price, ‘when I was a youngster starting out drinking, the only choice on bars was bitter or mild, though the mild could be very variable from pub to pub, as typically it had the reputation of being the beer in which any old “beer slops” were recycled! Thankfully, the days of those practices are long behind us, and mild should be treated and presented consistently in pubs to give the style a chance again.
‘However, the main reason to brewing a mild now is because of the hugely broadened perspective of beer drinkers who are eager to give new (or revived) styles a chance. This is reflected in the remarkably high interest in our mild, which has surprised and delighted us.’
Adrian Newman is Exmoor Ales’ head brewer and, along with his assistant Tom Davis, was tasked with the job of producing the mild. For him, the beer’s low alcoholic strength makes it an ideal session beer. ‘At 3.5% this means you can have more pints to get to your 22 units a week,’ he jokes, but more seriously, he also says that the beer is a result from visiting pubs and hearing drinkers ask for darker beers.
As Price says, there has been a lot of interest in the beer, and as well as being available from the brewery, it is nationally available through Molson Coors’ free trade sales (see their Hotlines brochure) in January and February, as well as being available to all Enterprise pub tenants.
Given that mild is usually promoted by CAMRA in May, Price is also keen to show that the beer is an ideal fit for January, traditionally a time of lower beer consumption in the aftermath of Christmas. ‘We have DryJanuary campaign,’ he says, ‘which might be well-meaning but is not good for pubs. I’d like to think that our mild is more TryJanuary than DryJanuary.’
Exeter-based beer and travel journalist Adrian Tierney-Jones is the current Beer Writer of the Year and the author of many books on beer, including The Seven Moods of Craft Beer. He is also editor of 1001 Beers You Should Try Before You Die, in which Exmoor Beast and Gold are featured, and gave his verdict on the beer: ‘Dark mahogany in colour, there are hints of chocolate, mocha coffee and toast on the nose, which repeat themselves subtly on the palate alongside an appetising sweetness and a soft malt character. The finish is clean and refreshing and makes for an ideal session beer.’
For more details contact Jonathan Price at Exmoor Ales on 01984 623798 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
Exmoor Ales started in 1980, during the first wave of small independent breweries. It was originally called Golden Hill, after its hill-top location in Wiveliscombe, and its creation brought brewing back to the town for the first time since the closure of Arnold & Hancock’s in the late 1950s. Almost immediately, Golden Hill made its mark on the beer world when its 13th brew of Exmoor Ale was voted Best Bitter at CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival in 1980. Since then countless other brewing awards have come their way. Exmoor Ales are also noted for being the originators of the ‘Golden Ale’ style, with the ever-popular Exmoor Gold, available in cask and in bottle. Other beers produced include the bestseller Ale, the wily easy drinking Fox and the cult strong porter Beast, as well as a variety of seasonal specials.
A selection of Exmoor Ales
Ale (3.8%): Classic bitter the colour of maple syrup. On the nose malt comes to the fore with a hint of citrusy hop in the background; a full, dry palate and a finish which offers more malt and a long lasting bitterness. Excellent on its own or with light meals such as salads, chicken and fish.
Fox (4.2%): Cunningly crafted from a blend of several malts and hops to produce a brunette beer of unusual subtlety and taste. The slight maltiness on the tongue is followed by a burst of hops with a lingering bitter-sweet aftertaste. Just right with fragrant Thai and Chinese dishes.
Gold (4.5%): Soft malty nose with a hint of citrus hop in the background. Well-rounded and refreshing on the palate with a slight sweetness leading to a malty finish accompanied by a touch of toffee and vanilla plus a long aftertaste. Versatile golden ale to accompany any meal!
Stag (5.2%): Strong, copper-coloured premium bitter with resiny hop mingling with grainy, maltiness on the nose. A voluminous malty character stakes its claim on the palate though a well-fined rich fruitiness also comes along for the ride, before a thrilling descent into a long dry finish where a hint of sweetness keeps matters well-mannered. Especially good with roast beef and game.
Beast (6.6%): Complex strong porter making liberal use of chocolate and crystal malts. On the nose espresso, currants and raisins, cocoa and a fiery hint of brandy or rum. More fruit cake, alcohol, coffee beans, chocolate on the palate, all kept in line with a spicy hoppiness, before the complex long aftertaste. Surprisingly thirst quenching with a spicy curry or a traditional steak and also add to rich fruit cake.
Antler (4%): A smooth and warming dark amber beer. Nose of popcorn and soft toffee. Nuts and toffee on the palate spiked by light tropical fruit. Dry grainy/malty finish, typical of Exmoor beers, leaving the taste buds calling out for more.
Hound Dog (4%): Light and refreshing dark-gold spring beer with a surge of lemon and lime on the nose, a touch of toffee and vanilla on the palate with an exquisite balance of fruity hoppiness and malt on the long finish. Delicious with fish and chips and other traditional bar meals.
DARK (4.2%): Dark amber in colour with crimson tints; crisp chocolate-like character in the mouthfeel, moderated by a blackcurrant smooth fruitiness — think a whisper of blackcurrant jam sweetness and a hint of chocolate spread, all kept from an overarching sweetness with dry toast-like and roasty notes. Crisp and dry finish. Roast duck, especially if the skin has been crisped, goes down a treat with a glass of Dark.
Silver Stallion (4.3%): Chestnut-coloured best bitter with a full-bodied palate boasting a hint of blackcurrant; the initial grainy malty finish is followed by a growing bitter finish. Serve with Sunday lunch.
Wild Cat (4.4%): Warming amber coloured ale produced for the autumn. The nose has plenty of deep booming earthy hop notes on the nose, while the palate is malty with a touch of autumn berries and a dry finish with more muscular hop thrusting its way. Ideal with pasta and other Italian favourites.
Exmas (5%): Ruby-coloured Christmas beer with a citrus and rich malty nose. The palate is smooth and fruity leading to a smooth finish with spicy and fruit hop notes lingering. A tasty toast to go with the turkey and trimmings.