Recently I spent some days in London and not necessarily for beer – but when you’re there and there’s great beer all around you, well, grab the moment, I say. A brief family vacation (Young Kempen wanted to go ‘shopping in London’ and who am I to disagree) landed me in my favorite Euston hotel, not-so-accidentally located around the corner of the Euston Tap. And the Bree Louise, although prior to the trip I was unaware of this.
For those of you who have not been to the Euston Tap yet: put it on top of your London bucket list, you’ll find out why once you’re ticking it off. What I never realized though is that the little pub halfway the side street next to my hotel was – perhaps – even better. I never got to try the place out for a variety of bad reasons, but with The Shopper unpacking her loot I had ample time on my hands. The Bree Louise (it is named after the owner’s daughter who died just twelve weeks old – that’s what I call courage) is not the biggest of pubs, probably ten by ten meters, and much space is lost because of the bar, the toilets and the fact it has two entrances, being on a corner. A mad elephant dancing wouldn’t cause any noticeable damage to the place and, looking at the locals, would probably not even be noticed itself. This is serious, dedicated and animated drinking! Six taps and eleven casks (or gravity pumps) serve an excellent and quickly changing selection from across the globe. To top it off they have eleven ciders and perry’s on cask or bag-in-box. One of the beers on gravity was one of my all-time favorites: Bank’s Light Mild. There, I’ve said it.
Mild has always intrigued me, ever since my first pint of Boddington’s Mild back in Eighties in Manchester, in the days Boddie’s didn’t travel. As a style it was an eye-opener: never realized a beer with such little alcohol could be so tasty! It was off course completely different from the pilseners I grew up with – in all aspects. One of the friends I knew in Manchester knew all the pubs who served Boddington’s Mild on cask in a ten mile radius from the brewery and I’m pretty sure we tried them all. The biscuity taste, the rather expressive hop notes (more so than with Bitter, however much as you would expect it to be the other way around) combined with the low carbonation made it my drink of choice. Mild apparently has been in decline for decades, whereas once it was the most prevalent beer style in Britain and these days you have quite a task finding a decent pint of mild. But the Bree Louise served Bank’s, a Yorkshire brew, and for me the benchmark Mild. I was, in short, the happiest man on earth.
Mild has not made it yet to the styles of choice for our modern experimental brewers, I believe, but I hope it will. Our own Kees Bubberman has one in his current line-up of Kees beers, but rumor has it that it may be discontinued as demand has yet to build up for it. And that would be a downright shame as Kees London Mild is, in my opinion, a superb beer. What say you: shall we petition for Kees to keep London Mild in his portfolio?