Two recipes from Northern Brewer have been brewed, bottled, and conditioned: a mild ale and a patersbier.
First, I’ll deal with the mild ale. The folks at Northern Brewer describe the recipe kit as follows:
Mild ales are very light-bodied with low bitterness but dark in color and full of malty flavor, striking a nice balance between quaffability and character. A special blend of malts imparts a nutty dryness with roasty undertones and a rich deep-ruby color, with subtle fruitiness from the yeast. A great session beer (which means you can have a few pints instead of one) that tastes best at cellar temperature.
I would not argue with the description too much. Here is what it looked like:
I do not know what else to say about the recipe. It is nothing wrong with the beer other than it has become a tired and boring style, like so many American style amber ales.
The other reason this beer seemed so boring? The patersbier that I drank it with during the same night. The patersbier is a totally different animal:
Again, the color is a little dark but pretty true. This beer is a complete success. It’s light in body and alcohol, so you can drink more than one. Yay! It’s effervescent and the carbonation really makes the flavors explode. Damn!
Looking around on the internet I have seen versions of this recipe using candied ginger and/or sage to spice things up. I think there is a lot of potential in this style to try some variations because the core recipe is so great.
Session beers, especially the lower alcohol versions, get overlooked by a lot of homebrewers looking to go to extreme levels with hops or alcohol. Trust me, there is something to be said for making a beer that is drinkable with a lot of complexity beyond bitterness and ashtray aroma.