Session #99 host Allstair Reese has asked us to write about localizing mild ale on the first day of American Mild Month. His question: “How would you localise mild? What would an Irish, Belgian, Czech, or Australian Mild look like? Is anyone in your country making such a beer? For homebrewers, have you dabbled in cross-cultural beer making when it comes to mild?”
The latest working title for my book in progress is “Brewing Local” (there will eventually more words attached) and the focus is on American ingredients, so this should be a task I can wrap my head around. But I can’t.
Yes, you can point to examples of American brewers starting from some classic style and turning it into something distinctively American, that sometimes that retains the name of the original style and sometimes becomes something altogether new. Maybe that will happen with mild — American Mild Month seems full of potential (just look at the list of participating breweries) — and I’ll think, “Oh, yeah, that should have been obvious.”
But there’s also the possibility that a beer can remain just like, allowing for the fact that nothing is just like, the original and still become local. I wish I could point to a mild as an example, but I’m going to use a German weissbier instead. Urban Chestnut Brewing here in St. Louis brews an outstanding version — it just landed near the top of one of those silly online lists. You might even say it tastes just like one you’d drink in Germany, that it rouses a pleasant memory. I can’t disagree, but for me it tastes, and smells, of St. Louis. It’s a Sunday afternoon at UCB’s Midtown biergarten or the first beer I have on a hot July night at Busch Stadium, before I begin the long march up to the cheap seats.
Local beer becomes local when it is part of the local fabric.