Mildly Entertaining

Can we talk about mild for a hot minute? It’s the world’s most uninterestingly named beer style yet it has held me rapt since I stumbled upon a delicious interpretation at the Washington Cask Beer Festival. It was called ‘Extra Mild’ from Hi-Fi Brewing and was rich with toffee and caramel notes. Being on cask didn’t hurt the cause much neither. There’s something about serving beer under 2.0 volumes that just riles my jibblies.

The strange thing about mild ale as a style is that it isn’t, really. Milds can be pale or dark and range from 3% to 7% ABV. Traditionally some kind of brewing sugar was added to boost gravity (and to a lesser extent, flavor), but sometimes not. In fact, the only real common thread I’ve been able to find is that milds were historically almost always the youngest and freshest beer a brewery offered. There were none of the funky or sour notes often ascribed to beers that sat around aging in gigantic wooden vats (read: porter).

As a style that defines itself mostly in relation to the other beers in a brewery’s portfolio, this makes mild ale a bit of an odd duck in 2017. Nevertheless, I attempted to make one at work as my second spin on the brewery pilot system. I chose to go closer to copper in color and should have it clock in under 4% ABV if the yeast does my bidding. This was my first experience brewing with invert sugar, a kind of processed sugar syrup. I made my own, natch, by boiling turbinado sugar and water with a touch of lactic acid. This breaks down the sucrose into its constituent parts, glucose and fructose, both of which are much more digestible for the yeasties. It also imparts some color and caramelized flavor to the kettle, so I got that going for me.

The One About Portland

Oh yeah, we’re in Portland now. The other one. Things have settled down just enough that I’ve maybe entertained the idea of possibly starting to post some more stuff. Perhaps. On the other hand, how can anyone think with all this deregulation about? Have you had a NEIPA yet? It is the beer equivalent of your kids music. I suppose I’m just too “square” to “get it”. (You should be envisioning air quotes as you read that.)

We’re adjusting admirably to life off the road and every week that goes by, the Great East Coast Migration of 2016 seems more and more like some fever dream rather than an experience we lived through IRL. I still think about it daily, but the chronology and factual details are starting to twist and meld and fade.

I am still gainfully employed in the brewing industry, thank Lob, though I am no longer helming the brew deck, which is fine with me.  I actually enjoy cellar work, and I’m not just saying that. It’s an opportunity to be master of your own domain whereas a brew shift can often feel like a perpetually late bus route (no matter how many delays you encounter, the ride must go on until it’s finished).

I’ve had a chance to try some of the local flora. Foundation is mostly excellent. Liquid Riot is doing wonderful things with a coconut porter that rivals Maui. Novare Res feels like a Seattle transplant, (in a good way). I’m also homebrewing more than I have since Mini Mash Tun was born. I work with a small team to produce a wide variety of ales based largely on what tickles our collective fancy. It is truly the most fun I’ve had brewing in a long time. I think this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Keep it gutter. Keep it grimey. One.


Well, that wasn’t entirely what I had in mind. For those of you who are not yet aware, yes, we have finally made it to New Hampshire. The trek took eighty-eight days and covered over four thousand miles. We battled hot (and cold!) weather, hills and mountains, mosquitos and skunks, rusty water, cows, bees, and even gravity at times. It was difficult (but not too difficult) and emotional and exceptionally rad. I hope I’m not out of line by speaking for everyone involved and saying we wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.

Sorrynotsorry for letting the blog languish on our trip. We barely had enough energy at the end of each day to give our summaries on Instagram. You can vicariously relive the entire journey by clicking the “InstaUpdate” link at the top of the blog. Not sure how long I’ll leave the link there, but the Instagram account will remain semi-active for the foreseeable future.

Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible. I now firmly believe that most people are good.