It took less than an hour for one perennial question to rear its head as Cornwall CAMRA members enjoyed a tour of mild-serving pubs in Falmouth.
“It’s not very dark for a mild, is it?” Oh, if I had a pound for every time. The beer in question: Rye Ruby Red (5% ABV), from Woodman’s Wild Ales. The point is that mild is young and lightly hopped. Or in the case of the Woodman’s, lightly meadowsweeted, yarrowed and thymed. With foraged ingredients, it was a taste challenge too far for some, but I enjoyed its spiciness and damson fruit flavours, although it’s not in the league of Woodman’s fabulous Kea Porter (search for it!).
Who would drink from a glass like this? Don’t worry — the liquid is one of the Front milds!
This was the first of co-social secretary Ann Burnett’s set-to-be-regular Wednesday Walkabouts (see the CAMRA Kernow website for news of forthcoming ambles) and was well supported, with a dozen or so members enjoying a sunny Falmouth evening. (Even if some had mistaken a gentle amble between three bars as a pub crawl.)
Interestingly, there was Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild in each of the three pubs we went to — in order, The Front, Beerwolf and the HAND Bar. I now wish I’d tried it in all three (really, why did I miss this research opportunity?) because the one we had in the HAND Bar to finish with, while tasting fine, was lacking in condition. This glut of what is usually a rare beer is down to a deal done with the brewer by Cornwall wholesaler Norman Garlick, known as The Beer Man. When I tried it at his bar at the Chacewater Ale and Food Festival on Saturday, it was in good form. Cask is not HAND’s prime purpose, however, and the barrel was in a back room on gravity, so it probably wasn’t going to be as well presented as the other two bars where the beer had been cellared and handpumped.
Still a great way to finish off a very enjoyable evening, though. And there was Verdant High Level Kink on keg, which is where HAND really does excel. Lemon, grapefruit, resinous bitterness. A 4.8% ABV joy. No wonder Verdant is becoming such a national favourite among craft aficionados.
The other milds enjoyed, incidentally, were Driftwood Spars’ Blackheads Mild, in The Front, which is dark, smooth, easy drinking, with good roast malt notes, almost slightly creamy in mouthfeel, and Penzance Brewing Co Mild in Beerwolf, lighter in colour, more fruity and slightly nutty. Fabulous to see milds on and these three pubs getting behind CAMRA’s Mild Month of May campaign.
Dunno about you, though, but May is not peak mild time for me. Better to do this in November or February, say. You know, when landlords might appreciate a bit of extra footfall. This was much more of a light beer type of spring evening, which was all the justification I needed for the lovely Marble Beers Lagonda IPA I sneaked in in Beerwolf…
• Large pictures courtesy of Steve Barber, CAMRA Kernow