OK, here is a further last note about my best bet for a bottle of mild or a mild like product made in Ontario - Black Oak's Nut Brown Ale from Oakville to the west of Toronto. In the early 1970s, David Line (the grandfather of all homebrewing and thereby the great-grandfather of the modern craft brewing industry) in his critical text The Big Book of Brewing captured the essence of mild that I might find in this beer:
Mild ale is renown for its luscious sweet flavour and thirst quenching properties. The other distinctive characteristic of it is that it is very low in alcoholic strength, and is usually the weakest beer turned out by the breweries.The trouble we face with this beer is it abides by the tedious rule that Canadian beer must be exactly 5.0%. So it is a bit too strong by about 25%. But I have hope as the brewery describes their brew this way: "Rich smooth taste, slightly roasty and chocolaty. It's a bit less hopped, but still has a fantastic balance with the malt." See that wee bit about less hopped? That is my hope. US browns like these are far more sharply hopped that their UK cousins and that makes them not so much on the "luscious" scale as on the "robust" one. Which way will it go?
So how does the Black Oak Nut Brown Ale stack up? It is a nice clear mahogany with a lace leaving cafe au lait froth. Check mark. At its front end it is right on target for a mild with a watery dry rich malted introduction. Another check mark. Plenty of hazelnutty bread crustiness. Check check check. But then it goes in another direction exactly mid-mouth. It has quite a minerally rather than moreish centre which opens into a bitter end with quite a strong yeast sour tang and even a bit of heat there in the middle of the end. The effect is close, not really close, then not close at all...but within the ballpark. Good sweetness and good graininess but with less hopping (and maybe more interesting hopping)...and a more toned down fruity yeast strain...and a bit less hardness in the water...and a little less heat, this would be a mild.
But it isn't. So it ain't.