Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Mild and ESB


Two different styles and both controversial in their own way. Mild as Ron Pattinson never tires of telling us wasn't always dark,sweet and low gravity. ESB as all know is a Fuller's invention. Er.. no. Probably Possibly not.

Two photos for you to have a gander at: One shows a famous set of postcards produced by Robinsons of Stockport in the 1930s and 40s. Note that apart from two other beers, they all advertise "Best Mild". Note the colour. Not dark at all, but pale, verging on golden and all with a tight looking creamy head. Makes you re-think mild a bit doesn't it?

The second photo is Mitchell's of Lancaster. Still going, but their own brewery in Lancaster closed some years ago, but they do now own York Brewery.  Oddly, I have a poster of their planned seasonals for the year of closure (1999) but which didn't of course appear. Offers anyone? The photo is of a sign that used to appear outside their pubs. Note the beer styles: Mild, Bitter and Extra Special Bitter. I was told once and don't know if it is true, that theirs preceded Fullers. Anyone know?
 
To study the photos closely, just click on them. You'll see me taking the Mitchell's photo if you look carefully. Call that a bonus. The originals are both on the wall in my study.

I also wrote about Mitchells here.  If you want to goggle in astonishment about ESB, click here for Ratebeer.

17 comments:

Tyson said...

Well of course Light Mild survived a lot longer round here than in some areas. It's not that long ago when both Thwaites and Hydes had 3 Milds on the books.

As for ESB. Am I right in assuming that came out in 1971? If so, yes, I believe Mitchells beat them to it. Theirs was a lot weaker, though, I seem to recall.

Tandleman said...

Indeed, but that looks pretty damn light to me.

Michell's ESB 1050 OG so around 5%. Described as "round and full bodied" which tells you little.

Tyson said...

Described in the 70s GBGs as 1045 OG and "thick, heavy and sweetish".

Tandleman said...

Thick, heavy and sweetish? Yum yum.

Curmudgeon said...

Robinson's light mild is still going strong, of course, although apparently following its rebadge as 1892 they are going to make it a bit darker. If you exclude Banks's, it must be by far the biggest-selling light mild in the country.

Apparently "Mr Peter" - who is still with us, although not as involved in running the brewery as he used to be - always pointedly referred to it as "Best Mild" rather than just "Mild".

Bailey said...

I think Fuller's only claim on ESB is as a trademark in the UK(haven't checked this, just off the top of my head) but also as *the* beer on which all the US ESBs are based. Wondering now what Martyn Cornell has to say about it in his Amber, Gold and Black.

John Keeling said...

Graham Ure was the Head Brewer of Fullers when ESB was launched in 1971. Reg Drury was a brewer at Fullers in 71 and became Head Brewer in 1980.

I have just spoken to Reg regarding ESB and he said that Fullers were not aware (in 71) of any other brewer using the name ESB.

ESB is a name which seems a logical progression from the Special Bitters that many brewers were producing.

I will do some more digging when I get the chance

Cheers John Keeling

Tandleman said...

Thanks for this John. I really don't know the answer. The Mitchell's sign I have is probably 1970's but whether their ESB goes back further than 1977 I don't know. It is mentioned in the GBG then. I don't have 1976 and 1974 doesn't mention which beers a brewery brewed.

Thanks again.

Ron Pattinson said...

According to "The Pub and the People" in 1930's Bolton Mild was dark and Best Mild was pale.

Tandleman said...

Pale or brown Ron? I know it's only a postcard, but it looks positively golden to me.

Tyson said...

Frank Baillie has tasting notes for Mitchells ESB in his 1973 book. Given the time taken for research and publishing lead-in times, if Mitchells weren't first, they can't have been far behind.

Tandleman said...

Nice one Tyson.

treble9man said...

Courage London Ale (1820)had an OG of 1062. Having tried the recipe - from the Durden Park booklet - it turns out as a mid-gold, sweetish mild and most pleasant it is too!

John Clarke said...

I think Ron has established that many 19th century milds were light. I was always given to understand that West Yorkshire was a bastion of light mild (and Taylors Golden Best is still with us of course). Hydes still make their "Best Mild" although today it's called 1863 and styled as a light bitter.

Tandleman said...

Of course John. This was confirmatory, not revelatory.

John Keeling said...

Apparently there was correspondence between the two companies in the 80's but it was more about Fullers will use ESB in the south and Mitchells can have the chilly north.

I think that Fullers ESB influence is bigger due to its world wide availability.
American ESB's were inspired by Fullers and without Fullers I don't think ESB would be a style at all.

Personally I just think ESB is just a strong bitter

Tandleman said...

Interesting stuff again John. I don't at all doubt that Fullers have influenced the term or your definition of it.