The name mild sounds, well, mild and mundane. Turns out, getting one's hands on one is anything but. Alan has been lamenting the lack of milds north of the border, and the comments on his post suggest that he is not alone. I thought I would fare better, since Ohio is a beer crossroads of sorts and my local brew store stocks over 800 varieties of beers. Wrong. There was ONE mild available--a whooping one, from a very surprising source--Three Floyds! Imagine, a mild from the same brewery that just hosted the legendary Dark Lord Day; a brewery that prides itself on over-the-top brews.
Mild was once much more popular than it is now. Years ago, it was the British session beer of choice (as were porters before that), but over the last 40+ years, the popularity of milds has steadily declined. In response, CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) has made a major publicity push to raise public awareness, dubbing May "Mild Month."
What makes a mild? Milds are generally brown in color, with emphasis on caramel, chocolate, and roasted malts (they are a close cousin to brown ales and are often considered browns on tap). Generally, they are less bitter than ESBs or other British hoppy ales. Perhaps most importantly, they are low in alcohol--under 5%, often as low as 3%. The mild is thirst-quenching beer--epitomizing the concept of a session beer.
So what about the Three Floyds Pride & Joy--does it measure up? I'm not sure. I've sampled several of these over the course of a week or so. It's an interesting beer--huge bursts of citrus hops in the nose, mingling with a caramel backdrop. Hops are pretty prevalent in the flavor, too. I pick up hints of chocolate and caramel, but like the nose, it's mostly in the background. It's a little high in alcohol, too--close to 5% makes it a little high for the style.
However, try as hard as I can, I don't see this beer as a mild, based on what I know of the style. BJCP notes that a mild is a close cousin to brown ales and porters, but I don't pick up the chocolate and toffee flavors in this beer that I associate with those styles. Simply put, this beer is too bright, too hoppy, too citrus to be a true mild (although to be fair, Three Floyds notes that it is a hoppy interpretation of the style). I'm not sure that this version works. I think that as far as session beers go, until we can get more milds in the area, I'll stick with Bell's Best Brown.