THE PUMPKIN ADVENT CALENDAR OF ALCOHOL: December 4. 3-4% by volume
BATEMANS DARK MILD
Sometimes certain drinks take on a legendary status in ones life. It may be as a result of their being consumed during important days (or years), it may be because they are the tastiest thing ever, or it may be because you never managed to drink them at all.
For me, Batemans Dark Mild is just such a drink. When I first moved to the North of England, I quickly befriended a Man of Louth, the eminently googleable all-round good chap Gavin Shufflebotham. Among the many things Gav taught me was that (a) mild exists and that (b) Batemans Dark Mild is glorious nectar.
Not that I knew. I’d barely set foot in the North, so the world of Mild was fresh and strange to me. What’s more, the ropey old mild they had in the pub across the way from our flat was like watered down week-old John Smiths. Worse still, I had my skint-student mindset of drinking the strongest, cheapest beer possible as a cost-efficient way of reaching the required state of Drunk.
I kept an eye out for Batemans Dark Mild, though, because Gav raved about it. And it started to become something of an obsession. I’d arrive in specialist booze pubs just as its name was being wiped from the blackboard, or it would be off for that night pending the new barrel settling. The pump head grew familiar as it taunted me from back bars or turned around on the pump for the bar staff to see. I’d even read about the stuff, about its dark maltiness, its complex roasty flavour. It sounded great. But, like most mild, it was hard to find.
The decline of mild is a cause of great sorrow to me. These days there’s nothing I like more than a really tasty pint which has an alcohol count low enough to leave you standing even after ‘the one’. Beer strength inflation is a bane. Mild was the perfect answer, and a classic mass market ordinary drink, the terrifically typical working drink for the working man (imagined or otherwise). These days it seems to be knitted beer, the sole preserve of the specialist CAMRA haunt, all self-congratulatory conservationism and life-suckingly joyless academia, 24 different pumps at the bar and not a cushion or a juker in sight.
It was in this climate of increasing rarity that I finally tracked down a pint of Batemans, sometime after I moved back South. Sadly, I can’t remember where, which is a bit of a disaster for my story. It was nice. The end.