A friend of mine on Facebook recently posted pictures of an old menu from Original Gravity Brewing Co. which he found in his office:
Gathering from the comments posted, this is a menu dating back to around when OG first opened, which I think was 2008.
Comment from the peanut gallery? I WANT THE MASON BREWER BITTER back! Maybe it’s because of my heavy English ancestry, but I LOVE a good English mild beer! Arbor Brewing in downtown Ann Arbor used to have a Big Ben House mild beer that I loved. Arcadia Brewing Co. used to have an English Reserve Mild beer that I loved (bought so many six packs of it). the “Ghettoblaster” beer by Motor City Brewing Works in Detroit is an English mild and is pretty tasty! Maybe I’ll have to pick some up at the store (if I can ever find any)!
Last summer, I visited Shorts Brewery in Bellaire, MI on our way home from a camping trip. Guess which beer I picked? This one:
Earl of Brixom
An English Dark Mild Ale with a rich brown color and a tantalizing mocha laced aroma. The overall body is lighter than it appears, yet robust flavors of roasted malt, chocolate, and caramel are prevalent, but not overly sweet. The finish is pleasantly clean with a slight black coffee-like bitterness. *specialty grains have been roasted and kilned for longer periods of time at higher temperatures, so they have less overall fermentable sugars, but play a bigger role in adding residual sugars for flavor and have an increased effect on color.
I loved it so much I wanted to take a growler home! But because it was on their hand-pulled “nitro” tap, I couldn’t do that.
I chatted with the bartender about this beer a bit, which they said was quite popular with their customers. Understandable – a good number of their customers probably drove a good distance to visit Shorts, which is kind of a “destination” brewery for craft beer aficionados (located in the Northwest lower peninsula of Michigan). The lower ABV would make it ideal for customers who had to, say, drive a couple of hundred miles to get home after having a couple of them (like we did).
Those look like my sunglasses on the right, so I’m guessing the English mild beer from Shorts is on the right! I held myself back and had just two of these – we were heading home from “Up North” and time constraints kept us from “tying one on!”
Being that I’m not a beer brewer or otherwise any kind of an “expert” in beer, I can only speculate about why this type of beer isn’t more popular. And I’m going to guess that it’s because they’ve been pushed out by IPAs. I honestly don’t know what the appeal is of IPAs, other than that maybe folks feel like drinking a beer is an experience that needs to be “worked through?” Every now and then I may want to have a hoppier brew, but it’s just much more enjoyable to me to drink something that goes down smooth – and doesn’t make you think too much (kind of like a high-priced call girl, to be completely crude). A good English mild beer will do just that. And if you love beer as much as I do, you can drink quite a few of these before you start pretending you have an English accent and doing your best impression of Ricky Gervais! Or worse – a Monty Python cast member in drag!
In the summer, what could be a better “distance beer” than an English mild? A friend of mine shared the term “distance beer” with me to describe a beer/beverage that one could drink in large quantities for barbecues, tailgates, lawn mowing, bar mitzvahs, etc. without getting too much “in the bag.” And I’m just being silly with the bar mitzvah – though I think I would need an appropriate amount of sauce to endure that kind of life event! Do Jewish people even allow drinking? Hmm, I’ll have to file that question away for later…
You COULD have a “session IPA” if you like craft beer and like the hops. Or you could have a Miller Lite, Labatt or Leinenkugel if macrobrews are your thing (or your only option). But if you don’t want the hoppiness – and want a little flavor – other than the lemon Pledge flavoring of Leinenkugel Summer Shandy to go along with your “distance beer?” Reach for an English mild. Don’t be fooled if the beer uses the name “bitter” in its description. These beers do not tend to be bitter AT ALL!
Trouble is, these beers are pretty difficult to find!