ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mild mannered thoughts

It's perhaps a tad unfortunate that this years Mild Month is coterminous with the announcement of (and scurrilious conclusion-drawing from!) the cessation of Robinson's 1892 Mild, which some are proclaiming as the final death knell of the style.

A quick check of my personal records reveals that I've tried 33 different Robinson's beers, none of which were this particular mild. That in itself says quite a bit.

I'm a ticker. So given that I will always try a beer I haven't had before - subject to limits of capacity, which are probably greater than the average persons - this suggests that I've never been anywhere that Robbies Mild has been available, apart from possibly a beer festival where it would've been lost amongst hundreds of other, largely more exciting brews.

This in turn indicates that Robinson's have been astonishingly crap at distributing their mild and probably had little interest in the product. Compare it to their heavily-promoted Trooper, a fairly bland beer which appears to be available absolutely fucking everywhere.

I've had two other Milds brewed at Robinson's - Young Tom and Hartley's Mild - and I've even been to Stockport once (first game after City were relegated from the Premiership, won 2-0) so if I've never had the opportunity to try the beer, it's a fair bet that your average drinker hasn't either.

Born to be...

Anyway, none of us will get to try this beer now, unless its axing is all an elaborate marketing ploy ahead of a nationwide relaunch, and I have to admit I'm not all that bothered because their are many, many beers that excite me more than a weak mild from a lacklustre regional brewer.

Tap East Chocolate Mild last night
Yes, it's worth preserving as a style, but so are all beer styles - even the ones we don't personally like. (Scotch Ale makes me gag, I can barely stomach most Saisons unless served ice cold and I struggle manfully like a trooper to gulp down malty, brown bitters like, err, Robinson's Trooper.)

Trust me, Mild will live on, even if only as a niche style championed only by older CAMRA members. It'll still occupy a bigger niche than salted lime gose.

Ironically, for me, Mild is at its best when adulterated with the sort of adjuncts that would make said traditionalists splutter and spew up their Oscar Wilde.

One of my favourite beers of last year was Blakemere Cherry Baby - a delightfully fruity number with the twist of a creamy Mild base. East London Brewery's Vanilla Orchid Mild is another classic, and there's a lot to be said for adding chocolate and coffee to mild to create very tasty but low gravity beers.

In these crafty, hoppy times, a lot of drinkers really just don't get a lot out of mild. Its original drinkership of toiling manual workers switched to weak industrial lager in the 1970s and won't be coming back.

If Robbies can't be arsed to brew it, it's a shame for fans of that particular mild but there will continue to be plenty of others out there. And thanks to vastly increased awareness and interest in beer over the last few decades, no style of beer is going to die for good any time soon.


  1. To be fair I don't think many family brewers' milds have ever made much inroads into the free trade. But if you have visited Edgeley Park and travelled by train, you will have walked right past the doors of two pubs that sold it.

    As you say, the social conditions that made mild a mass-market product have gone forever, and most people who want to drink inoffensive beer in large volumes will tend to go for lager.

  2. I didn't get any new beers that day, just one new ground and two new Spoons.

    It was 14 years ago, but I think the trains weren't running to Stockport and I had to get a rail replacement bus from Wilmslow. Though that probably dropped me off at the station so I'd still have walked past said pubs...

  3. The Ship Aground on Wolseley street used to sell it, and I believe the landlord at the time, a Mr Thomas Cracker, was of the opinion that Robinson's would cease to be in a few years time. I would go as far to say that the availability of a decent mild is going the way of teacakes, bread and dripping, and outside toilets.


  4. Well i happen to be Muslim and alcohol is not allowed in my religion. But to be honest i have always wondered what it tastes like. Heard its like Malt.


Comments are always welcomed and encouraged, especially interesting, thought-provoking contributions and outrageous suggestions.