What Contemporary Brewery Makes Two Different Mild Ales? Take a Guess
At the start of the year, we posted about our excellent British Mild, a very traditional mild ale seldom seen in these IPA-crazy times. These beers were among the most popular in England until the second half of the twentieth century. Tastes changed, but the quality of what was called mild started to decline as well.
A short digression on “the utiliser”:
Regular patrons of the Civil Life are accustomed to the finest quality ales and lagers produced and served anywhere, so they might find this hard to believe, but unscrupulous publicans often employed shady practices to increase their profits at the expense of beer quality and the beer drinker’s experience. A nefarious device known as the utiliser was employed to recycle mixed beer slops into a pail in the cellar, where it was repackaged and sold as … mild ale. Oh, the horror!
Fellow drinker, those days are happily behind us. But the past still has much to teach us, especially about forgotten beer styles. So enamored were we with mild ale as a style, that we fashioned a second one: Ruby Mild Ale. It is about to return to discerning palates throughout St. Louis.
So how does Ruby Mild differ from our original mild? The name highlights a difference in color. Both beers are brown, but the ruby has a decidedly reddish cast, especially in the light. We add some cara-red and chocolate malts for color. The base grains are traditionally malted English barley strains: maris otter and optic (a spring version of maris otter). We use our standard English pale ale yeast strain (the dark mild uses an ESB yeast strain). The EPA yeast strain produces a crisper beer, that’s dry with a subtle apple fruit note. Our Ruby Mild Ale is hopped with phoenix, an English variety with floral, piney, and spicy notes.
Both Rudgate Brewery and the Sarah Hughes Brewery in England currently brew a ruby mild, but the style is by no means common. Thankfully, American craft breweries are keeping these styles alive, especially those of us passionate about brewing traditional beers for the modern palate.
Come down and enjoy a pint of traditional Ruby Mild Ale in our authentic English pub atmosphere and be transported to a different time and place, where civility reigns, tasty session beers abound, and the malevolent forces of blaring television devices, insipid light beers, and belligerent drunkards are not to be found. We’ll say it again: Be Civil. Drink Civil.
Dr. Patrick Hurley of Tower Grove South
One of those good weeks. I tried to do this in fewer words but was unsuccessful. Reading time 8 minutes. Fast readers should finish in 5 minutes. Make sure to read the caption below the picture!
But first of all since I have your attention, we are open the Sunday (Sept. 4th) of Labor Day weekend from 12 to 7 pm!!! Tell your friends. Meanwhile…back at the brewery…
We didn’t quite know what to expect on Tuesday when we opened our doors. Our first canning excursion with our Flagship American Brown was sure to be good but how good and how many people would show up was the big question. We put quite a lofty Gold medal goal out there and if we sold out the first day we promised to discount our already incredibly fairly priced $5.00 imperial pints to $4.00 for the remainder of the week and even vowed to do my best to find our tv for the closing Olympics ceremony.
We didn’t sell all the beer and have about 125 cases left (8.99 to go. 9.75 inc. tax), which means you can head down soon to pick up a 6 pack or more. It still is hard to guarantee when we will sell it out but it is our hope to try and have 6 packs available here going forward. We will at times sell out and some of the times we even hope to have 2 beers here.
We did however that day experience something that really made me proud to know that so many people out there really believe in the beers we make. People from far away lands called Bloomsdale, Wentzville and O’Fallon believe in our beers enough to drive the distance to be here to support us on our first canning day. (Side note: none of these places are really that far especially in an inter-galactic sense and all offer great craft beer choices now.) People left work early to get 6 packs (or cases!) for their significant others who love our beer. We received a massive amount of support from all the local breweries as they popped in to buy a 6 packs and cases. The kind brewers from UCBC brought over their Dissolved Oxygen meter as ours hadn’t arrived yet and confirmed we were hitting great numbers for our cans. By great we mean low in this case.
All of this was followed by seeing the American Brown released into the wild as photo’s from fridge’s (Thanks Anne!...not sure if you wanted me to re-tweet the inside of your healthy and well-balanced fridge with Civil Life American Brown now prominently displayed to thousands of people but cheers on good food choices), homes and gatherings came in through our twitter feed. One picture had 4 paparazzi snapping photos of the can. I “can” assure you there has been no better day for the Civil Life. My cousin, Nick, Bloomsdale, Missouri's top bee-keeper sent in a picture showing that it was a proper beer to consume while beekeeping. Who would have thought?
When the first can came off the line and I handed it to Dylan for the first ceremonial opening. Our team here was super happy to be part of this long awaited milestone. No doubt as the day rolled on our happiness shot through the roof when the line formed and suddenly cases seemed to jump out of the cold room while long lines formed in our pub. Sorry about that, it’s hard to staff for something like this and unfortunately 2 of our hardest workers here are our esteemed kitchen employees Dave and Tony and as mighty as they are only one of them can fit in the kitchen at a time.
The outpouring of support will always be remembered. For a guy like me that loves the never-ending marathon of running a business this was definitely a day for our Civil history. To our regulars, our fans and the many local breweries that stopped by to get a 6 pack or more we say thanks from the bottom of our over worked hearts.
ONE MORE REMINDER: OPEN SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4th of LABOR DAY WEEKEND AND ALL SUNDAYS IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW.
IMPORTANT CAN DETAILS: WE STILL HAVE 125 CASES!
Meet Brian, Lindsay and that's me! Brian (far left) is our can designer (now local celebrity) and no doubt we are eternally thankful for his tremendous skill in crafting the perfect can. Brian and I go back to the days when I owned 33 as he was a great regular there as well. We've got more cans in the future so you will be seeing more of his excellent work. The guy in the middle is the kindest of chaps, Lindsay (Celebrating his 75th Birthday Saturday, August 20th), a Civil gentleman who can be found in our pub a couple times a week. He had Brian sign one of the Civil Life cans! Chat him up sometime, you'll be glad you did. And as for me, I am just glad to be in the picture and to have the support of so many people that make this place the best of places.
Perhaps no other beer is as iconically linked to its region of origin as the original pilsner beer, born in 1842 in Plzen, part of the current Czech Republic. The story goes that the locals were so excited by this tasty new golden beer that they forgot to trademark the name. Besides the slew of oh-so-insipid light lagers technically called pilsners, many examples are brewed throughout Germany and Austria.
Czech-style pilsners are noticeably distinct from German pilsners. The Czech versions are somewhat darker in color and fuller bodied. They are less bitter and typically more complex, with layers of spicy, floral, and grassy notes.
Czech and German pilsners appeared around the same time and both benefited from advanced kilning techniques pioneered in England. But Czech pilsners grew out of what was a regional emergency. Beer quality and consistency were notoriously unreliable, and the citizens of Plzen finally said, enough is enough. They created a state-of-the-art new brewery, including the new “English” kilns. From the brewery came a luscious golden beer with a beautiful white head. The locals quaffed it down and pronounced it most excellent.
Until then, most Czech beers were darker ales brewed with top-fermenting yeast strains. The new Pilsners were brewed with clean Bavarian-style lager yeast strains and lightly kilned Bohemian barley malt. They were roasted a bit more than German pilsner malts and so were darker and richer, with a hint of caramelization, and produced beers with greater body.
Besides the distinct malt used, Czech Pilsners are marked by two other important factors. Unilke their German counterparts, which are made from rather hard water, they are brewed using very soft sandstone filtered water. And they are hopped with Saaz, a delightful Czech variety with spicy, floral, and herbaceous characteristics.
At the Civil Life, we started by boiling the water for some time, driving off excessive minerality and softening it. The base malt is Bohemian Pilsner malt. Saaz hops are used for each addition. The resulting beer is a beautiful deep golden color with a round, bready malt character and good body. At a mere 35 IBUs, the beer is not especially bitter, though it is pleasantly crisp. Distinctive floral, spicy, and herbal hop notes come through. Some taste peppercorn, some hints of rosemary or lavender, or even an earthy tarragon-like note.
Drinking our delicious Czech Pilsner is like taking a trip to nineteenth century Bohemia. Come down and get a pint while it’s on tap. And as always, ask for it or any other Civil Life beer wherever fine ales and lagers are served.
Do you like fresh beer? Beer right off the canning line. Beer that was canned on the day you buy it? Do you like American Brown? Do you check dates on the bottom of cans when you purchase them? You should, if you don’t. I do.
Do you wish there was one location on this big blue marble that you could get American Brown in cans?
Well, dreams do come true.
It is with great pleasure that I announce you will soon be able to get the American Brown in cans at the Brewery. By soon, I mean this TUESDAY, AUG, 16! We are having a can kick off that begins at 4 pm and runs until they sell out. From 4 to 5 pm you can even see the can machine operating and buy right off the canning line. We are canning a 40 bbl batch or 525 cases! I would say rush right down even though it is unlikely we will sell out that day. But the truth is many of you have been waiting for this for a long time and in the spirit of Olympic competition and the spirit of every one of us that was more likely to pull a muscle walking to the beer store than sprinting or swimming or jumping for a medal.
In this spirit of these 2016 Olympics, since it is guaranteed impossible to sell 40 bbl of cans in one day just like it is impossible for one athlete to win 21 gold medals in swimming or a group of American Gymnasts to take gold with over 8 points between them and their next closest competitors our cold war or now mostly lukewarm war nemesis, the Russians. In the true spirit of American competition, I would like to pose this Gold Medal Olympic Civil Life challenge. If we sell all these these cans on Tuesday we will discount our Imperial pints of beer to $4.00 and our 1/2 pints to $2.00 till the end of the Olympics. We already had the best prices in town. You’ll save so much money drinking here that you can afford to buy your own gold medal. We’ll even put the closing Ceremony on our TV (if I can find it.)
Just to sweeten the pot one more time, it’s my birthday on Tuesday and honestly, this is the first time I have ever scheduled something on my birthday. Yes, you can make it my gold medal birthday. See you Tuesday. In the words of Joe Mooney (who thankfully spearheaded this project), “It’s on like Donkey Kong.” Someone else surely said that first. You might even get a chance to meet our super talented can designer, Brian on Tuesday! I would post a picture of the cans but it will be best if you hold one in your hand to see it on Tuesday.
See you Tuesday!
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.