The local branches of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in Manchester, Stockport & the surrounding towns are pleased to announce details of Mild Magic 2013.
Mild Magic is the annual celebration of an endangered beer style, cask conditioned Mild which for 2013 will see over 100 pubs participating in a "pub passport scheme" - one of the largest such promotions in the country. These pubs have committed to stocking a cask conditioned Mild for the duration of the promotion with drinkers able to collect stickers when drinking Mild in these pubs. At the end of the promotion, completed sticker cards can be exchanged for prizes including free entry to Stockport Beer Festival and a range of exclusive Mild Magic clothing.
About Mild Magic 2013
Mild Magic is a cask Mild trail and passport scheme running from 12th April to 19th May 2013. Members of the public can obtain a ‘Mild Magic’ card through participating pubs or by clicking the link above. Each card will list all participating pubs & have room for 12 stickers. When a customer buys either a half or pint of cask-conditioned Mild the card will be endorsed with a sticker. Anyone can pick up a card & join in the fun. You don't have to be a member of CAMRA; just someone who likes drinking good beer.
Those submitting completed cards will get free entry (for CAMRA members’ free beer) at the 26th Stockport Beer and Cider Festival (30th May – 1st June). Every entrant will also be put into a grand prize draw to visit Hydes new state of the art brewery in Salford Quays in the autumn where there will be a chance to taste their beers, including their two Milds, 1863 & Owd Oak.
There will also be special ‘Mild Magic’ T-shirts for those covering 12 pubs in 12 different areas, a polo shirt for those covering 24 pubs in 24 different areas, a sweat shirt & a chance to be a brewer for the day at Stockport’s Quantum Brewery for those covering 48 pubs in 36 areas & an extra special embroidered fleece (as well as extra festival tickets) for those covering every pub.
Cask conditioned Mild
Mild is one of Britain’s most traditional beer styles, usually dark brown in colour due to the use of well-roasted malts or barley, it is less hopped than bitters & often has a chocolaty character with nutty & roast flavours.
Cask conditioned Mild is a rarity in many parts of the country (our area is the exception), which is a real shame, because Mild is a distinctive & tasty beer. Mild is one of, if not the, oldest beer styles in the country.
So what is Mild? It is a beer which has tastes & textures all of its own. Basically it is a beer that is less hopped than bitter, etc. The darkness of Dark Milds, such as Moorhouse’s Black Cat & Manchester’s Holts Mild, comes from the use of darker malts &/or roasted barley which are used to compensate for the loss of Hop character. "Chocolate ", "fruity", "nutty" & "burnt" are all tastes to be found in the complexity of Milds. However, not all Milds are dark. (Stockport’s Robinsons’ 1892 is a good example of a light coloured Mild) but these lighter Milds seem to be under particular threat.
Milds today tend to have an ABV in the 3% to 3.6% range, with of course some notable exceptions. Mild wasn't always weaker though. In the latter half of the 19th Century, Milds were brewed to about the same strength as bitters as a response to the demand for a sweeter beer from the working classes & in those days most bitters were around 6 to 7% ABV. Indeed recently a lot of the Microbreweries who are trying their hand at Mild are bringing the alcohol content back up somewhat.
During the First World War, malt rationing & pressure from the temperance movement led to brewers rapidly reduced the strength. Following the Second World War, as prosperity returned, Mild’s popularity as a low cost ale began to fade, not being helped by being kept badly in run down pubs as the Big Brewers began to heavily promote their keg lager brands. Coupled to this was a gradual, but steady decline in heavy industry in the North & Midlands, Mild’s great marketplace.
By the 1970s, the keg lager boom (now gratefully in rapid decline) saw Mild's share of the market fall to around 13% & it was heartbreaking to see a bland gassy, over marketed & overpriced ersatz product succeed to the detriment of such an important part of Britain’s drinking heritage.
Uniquely all four of Greater Manchester local independent family brewers (Robinsons, Holts, Hydes & Lees) brew at least one cask mild & all are represented in Mild Magic 2013. These brewers & the new & up & coming brewers such as Moorhouses have kept the beer style alive when in much of the rest of the country it is hanging on in just a few pubs. More recently with the rapid growth of the micro brewery sector there has been an expansion in the availability of new cask Milds which can only give new vitality to this classic British drink.