By Donavan Hall, Beer Columnist

Last year I attended the Long Island Real Ale Festival with my beer writer hat on. This year, I’ll be there as a brewer. On January 6, my brewing buddy, Mike Voigt, and I mashed-in and brewed up a batch of an English-style Mild that we’ll be proud to serve at this Saturday’s Long Island Real Ale Festival held annually at the Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue.

The beer has been fermenting away at Mike’s house for the last couple of weeks and earlier this week it was ready to transfer into the firkin.  We sampled a couple of pints right out of Mike’s totally swank 14 gallon stainless steel conical fermenter and pronounced the beer utterly delish.

We’ve been working on this Mild recipe for a few months. We’ve brewed two pilot batches and tweaked the recipe to our taste. If you are not familiar with Mild, it’s a historic style that isn’t brewed too much nowadays because Milds (as the name implies) are low alcohol beers.  They are dark beers (usually) and you’d think that you are looking at a stout or a porter, but a Mild is a beer that you could probably drink all day and never get a buzz. (Okay, I’ve confused you; why would anyone want to drink beer and not get a buzz?  The taste!)

These low-alcohol Milds were originally brewed as refreshers for laborers who would be working at steel mills or other hot, physically demanding jobs. These workers would sweat out copious amounts of fluid and they would be in serious need of re-hydration to avoid death. The Mild was perfect. These manual laborers could drink ten or fifteen pints of Mild and then get back to work, but refreshed.

In the 21st century, no one (at least not in the "western" world) labors that hard and beers tend to be in the "relaxer" alcohol range (6% ABV and up). But we shouldn’t look down our noses at Milds just because they won’t knock us on our collective ass.  They are still full-bodied, full-flavored brews. If you don’t believe me, then come to the Long Island Real Ale Festival this weekend (January 26, tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door) and we’ll prove to you that Milds are just as flavorful as any other beer.

If you’d like to know more about what "real ale" is, then I invite you to listen to a recent episode of Radio Beer Hall (#101) and find out the answer to the question "what is real ale?"

Listen: download the mp3 (6.6 MB, 14:25 mins) [other info]
Subscribe to the beer podcast: regular feed | with iTunes