Style: XXXX Mild
Brewery: Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project (Cambridge, MA)
Availability: single brew, limited release
Next up in my “quick, drink this beer, there’s no more room in the fridge” series is the Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project’s February 27th, 1832 Mild Ale, the first in their historical recreation series. This XXXX Mild Ale, brewed without refrigeration, is a recreation based on a brewday document uncovered by brewing historian Ron Pattinson. The result is a surprisingly hoppy, surprisingly strong mild unlike any you will find on the shelf today. From the back label:
In Dickensian London, “mild” ales weren’t necessarily the watery dark beers we know today. The term “mild” indicated that the beer was sold young, rather than aged. So here you will find a young and hoppy beer from the past.
Appearance: 1832 Mild Ale pours a ruby brown with a thick, pale-tan head that recedes quickly and leaves a nice lacing that slithers down the glass after each sip.
Smell: The nose wafts like a barley wine with big hits of sweet syrup, lemon preserves and campfire ashes. There are earthy, herbaceous undertones as well not unlike Pine-Sol or Murphy’s Oil Soap.
Taste: I was surprised at how little flavor there was upfront in this big beer. It hit my palate totally flat. I thought “too cold, perhaps?” but knew it was not. Amazingly, however, the flavor here revved up from the finish and began to envelope the mouth sip after sip (weird, I know.) The finish started with a wave of syrupy malts, candied lemon peel, woodsy notes and a definite presence of alcohol. Afterwards, flavors of light molasses, Robotusin and chalk-dust developed and, as it warmed, there were strong herbaceous flavors not unlike an absinthe sans the licorice.
Mouthfeel: Despite the strong hop character here (for a modern day mild), the 1832 Mild Ale has a non-agressive carbonation that left my mouth with a thick coating and – after the first glass – I found myself reaching for a bit of water to clear things out.
Drinkability: Sip this one well and sip it often (if you could find it again). This is a very complicated and enjoyably contemplative brew with many levels that deserve attention. I would definitely reach for another bottle, especially to relax after a long day. This would not, however, be my first choice on a night out at the pub.
Overall: This is a wicked monster of a beer that pulls no punches and doesn’t pander to the crowd one bit. It sips like an old man’s beer and the earthly flavors lean more toward one who appreciates a rye whisky than a modern beer drinker. Despite some of the more interesting flavor notes, it was all very well balanced quite enjoyable. I could see this pairing perfectly with a nice cigar to highlight the ashy notes or even with a smoked duck breast at dinner.