Tag Archives: Brown and Mild Ales

164. Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde

Fine. It’s a famous, famous beer that gets the CAMRA types all excited, and we’re in a great pub that has done wonders for this blog.

Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde

And honestly, all I can say is it smells quite nice—kind of like Parma Violets—it tastes of beer, and it isn’t horrible. It’s all yours CAMRA.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Mighty Oak Brewery, Maldon, Essex, England
Style: Brown and Mild Ales
Strength: 3.7% ABV
Found at: The Grape & Grain, Anerley Hill, London SE19
Serving: Cask, pint

149. Brains Dark

It appears I’ve been a little negligent regarding blogging duties recently. Happily, the research has been continuing and I have a few beers to write up. That this one was sampled on the 30th of May will tell you how far behind I am, so let’s crack on.

I can be certain of the date, because Brains Dark was found among the impressive cask lineup at the 30th Colchester Real Ale and Cider Festival. You may remember my visit to the Colchester Winter Ale Festival. This was a similar event except with hotter weather, and the garden was open.

Brains Dark at the 30th Colchester Real Ale and Cider Festival

I say “garden”. It was actually the graveyard, Colchester Arts Centre being a converted church, and I can say with some certainty that this is the first of the 149 beers so far to have been consumed in a graveyard.

Brains Dark is a 3.5% ABV Mild hailing from Cardiff in Wales. It was served here via gravity from a cask, in traditional CAMRA beer festival style. It’s full of flavour: rich, bitter and with a big long finish. There are roasty, smoky notes too and it all goes down very easily.

Brains Dark at the 30th Colchester Real Ale and Cider Festival

So easily that I didn’t manage to take a great deal of tasting notes, not least as I was enjoying setting the world to rights with Official Threehundredbeers Essex Correspondent Ben, and boring the poor chap a little by banging on about my recent, er, “study” trip to Lille.

Needless to say, several further beers followed, including a welcome chance to revisit Beer Number 1, Robinson’s Old Tom from back when I naively thought this would be a quick, easy project. Apparently I didn’t think much of it back then, but I’m pleased to say I enjoyed it a great deal more from a cask.

Other beery highlights of the day included the formidable 10% ABV Thomas Sykes from Burton Bridge, who brought us that rather nice Empire IPA, and the relentlessly hoppy Houblon Chouffe, on tap at the Belgian bar.

All in all a grand day out, and we’ll be keeping our eyes open for further Colchester beer festivals.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: S.A Brain and Co., Cardiff, Wales
Style: Brown and Mild Ales
Strength: 3.5% ABV
Found at: Colchester Real Ale and Cider Festival, Colchester Arts Centre, Colchester, Essex
Serving: Cask, half pint, gravity

95. McMullen’s AK

I had wondered if I was going to have to make a trip up to Hertfordshire for this one. McMullen’s appear to have countless pubs up that way, but happily I found this pint of AK a little closer to home, or at least to work.

The Spice of Life in Soho is quite familiar to me, having worked just across the road a few years ago. It’s a famous place, apparently a cornerstone of both the folk and later punk movements. It’s now a fairly traditional and very pleasant London boozer with charmingly friendly staff, but it still hosts regular live music, and the fish and chips I used to enjoy there is among the best I’ve ever had.

Yet I hadn’t twigged it was a McMullen’s pub, and so would perhaps be able to help 300 Beers out, until I started work in the area again recently. It’s time for a brief jaunt up to the far end of Soho.

McMullen's AK

McMullen’s AK is listed in The Book under Brown and Mild Ales, which I find hard to understand. I can’t believe it has changed much in the intervening years, but it’s absolutely, unquestionably an English bitter these days.

As such it pours a typical copper colour with a thinnish cream-coloured head that fades quickly. The aroma is all floral English hops, with a hint of pepperiness that carries through to the flavour.

It’s in impeccable condition here, as you’d hope from the brewery’s own pub, but even so I’m finding it hard to conjure up much to say about it. It’s your standard session bitter—refreshing, tasty and, well, bitter, but it isn’t deeply exciting.

Again, as with the Oakham JHB, that probably isn’t the point. I personally prefer a beer that packs a bit more of a wallop, but if you like a decent cask bitter, you won’t find much to complain about with this one.

Indeed, if you like “Real Ale” but are looking for something with a bit more flavour, I’m pleased to note that the McMullen’s IPA and also the Country Bitter at the Spice of Life are very enjoyable beers indeed.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: McMullen & Sons, Hertford, Hertfordshire, England
Style: Brown and Mild Ales
Strength: 3.7% ABV
Found at: The Spice of Life, Moor Street, London W1D
Serving: Cask, pint

75. Manns Original Brown Ale

Beer number 75 seemed like a suitable enough landmark to justify a lengthy, shall we say, “research” expedition around the hostelries of South East London. And truth be told, there are some exquisite pubs tucked away off the beaten track, if you know where to look.

The Blythe Hill Tavern, in a sense, is about as on the beaten track as it gets, sitting as it does directly on the South Circular. It’s a famous little place too, widely and rightly acknowledged for the quality of both its beers and its welcome. And yet to my shame, I had never visited.

I have now.

Manns Original Brown Ale

And what a lovely boozer it is. The range of beers is a gloriously unplanned mixture, as are the clientele, but this little beauty caught my eye immediately.

Manns Original Brown Ale weighs in at a mighty 2.8% ABV and comes in hefty 275ml bottles. I know, steady on.

It’s packed with flavour, though. Rich, dark, sweet and dense, this is by no means a lightweight beer. It turns out that Manns was originally brewed in 1902 as a mixer, to be added to your pint of draught bitter. It seems that at the time, draught beer could be a little on the rough side, so you added a drop of the sweet, unctuous Manns brew to take the edge off it.

Which I guess explains the smaller bottles: maybe you’d get one for the table and share it around your Edwardian buddies’ pints. At only 2.8%, maybe if you were the designated penny-farthing operator, you could knock back a whole one and still get home without attracting the attention of the Bow Street Runners.

Obviously such grotesque historical inaccuracies are a shameless cover for the fact that the Blythe Hill Tavern’s exceptional hospitality diverted me from taking any further meaningful notes. I think it tasted pretty good though.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Marston’s Beer Co, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, England
Style: Brown and Mild Ales
Strength: 2.8% ABV
Found at: The Blythe Hill Tavern, Stanstead Road, London SE23
Serving: 275ml Bottle

70. Banks’s Mild

Following a recent pub conversation with a colleague who was lamenting how difficult it has become to find a pint of Mild these days, I realised two things: firstly, he was right, and secondly, he was so right that I’m not sure that I even know what a Mild is.

So I was particularly grateful to spot this one at, you guessed it, The Grape & Grain. Time for your correspondent to learn a little bit more about good old-fashioned beer.

While modern Milds are typically quite low in alcohol—this one tips the scales at a sober 3.5% ABV—the term “mild” does not imply weak in that sense. Rather it means a beer lower in hop bitterness and sweeter than, say, a bitter. That’s why it’s no contradiction whatsoever for a brewery such as Partizan to create a rather tasty Mild weighing in at 6.4%.


The Banks’s Mild pours a lovely deep chestnut colour, with a thin off-white head. Despite the low ABV, it certainly isn’t mild in taste: it’s a hugely full-flavoured, full-bodied ale, not unlike a Best Bitter.

It’s dark, fruity and rich, and there’s a delicious underlying caramel sweetness followed by a satisfyingly long bitter finish.

Whatever the current score in the keg/cask debate, this is a beer that absolutely must be cask conditioned, and by someone who knows what they’re doing. I certainly cannot fault “the Grape” on that front.

This is a relentlessly sessionable beer, and at just £3.20 a pint (less for CAMRA members) I would happily have had another. Trouble is, I think I just spotted beer number 71 in the fridge…

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Banks’s Park Brewery (Marston’s), Wolverhampton, England
Style: Brown and Mild Ales
Strength: 3.5% ABV
Found at: The Grape & Grain, Anerley Hill, London SE19
Serving: Cask, pint

44. Brooklyn Brown Ale

This is the third and final beer we’ll meet from the Brooklyn Brewery, having already tried the Vienna-style Lager and the magnificent Black Chocolate Stout. They were both cracking beers, so I have high hopes for this one.

Brooklyn Brown Ale was originally brewed as a seasonal beer, but proved so popular that it found its way into Brooklyn’s core range. It has subsequently been tweaked heavily over the years by Brooklyn’s famous Brewmaster Garrett Oliver.


There’s that smart Milton Glaser-designed Brooklyn branding again, though the label replaces the Brooklyn Lager’s green detailing with an appropriate-seeming reddish brown colour scheme.

The ale is certainly brown, pouring a deep chestnut colour with a small tan head. It’s a smooth, drinkable beer with a slightly lighter body than I expected. It’s full of deep roasted flavours and nutty, bonfire toffee sweetness.

There’s a slight bitter finish, though the hop bitterness isn’t especially pronounced, despite a generous amount of hops being used in the brewing process.

All in all, with their Brown Ale, Brooklyn have created a successful modern American twist on a classic British style of beer, ramping up the malts and strength to create a deeper, more complex brew that remains pleasantly refreshing.

I can’t help thinking this would be a great beer to cook with, perhaps in a steak and ale pie or game casserole, but I’ll stick with drinking it for now.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
Style: Brown and Mild Ales
Strength: 5.6% ABV
Found at: Utobeer, Borough Market, London SE1
Serving: 355ml Bottle