In traditional British brewing, mild ales were the counterpart to bitter ales. You can doubtless imagine for yourself what the distinction was. According to beer writer Michael Jackson, at one point, milds were “a harvest-time drink, a reward for farmworkers.” The Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) harkened back to this tradition by releasing Ruby Mild its fall mix pack this year.
Ruby Mild pours an amber color, albeit a reddish one, despite the name. There’s a thin white head that fizzles out. The carbonation is prickly on the tongue. The first scent and the first flavor is sweet and fruity, like cherries. Caramel follows. The sweet malt flavors give way to toasty malt, with a hint of coffee. Since this is a mild, the hops are not too prominent, but they do provide a nice counterbalance to all the sweet malt. They add a bit of tartness, calling to mind lemon and green apple. As the beer warms up, the flavors become more complex, with coffee flavors becoming stronger and adding a bit more bitterness. Spicy and earthy flavors from the hops come out, including, perhaps a bit of ginger.
This beer shows that beers don’t need to be incredibly hoppy or very strong to be complex and interesting. This would be a great alternative to brown ales or stouts for those who prefer malty beers.