Manor Hill head brewer Ben Little approaches a traditional style of beer with one question in mind: If this staple were invented today, what would it taste like? In other words, a modern day brewery doesn’t face the limitations on ingredients and production techniques that existed 200 years ago, so why not utilize everything that’s available when channeling the spirit of a well-worn style? Why not color outside the lines when producing, say, a kolsch or a grisette?
With Mild Manor’d, the Ellicott City brewery applies that thinking to the English Mild. A style that’s relatively rare in the US, the traditional dark ale is typically a tad malty, a tad sweet, and almost always low in alcohol. Manor Hill’s version can’t be summarized as neatly. The biggest difference is the grist complexity; Little’s recipe combines no less than nine different malts from Scotland, America, Germany, and Belgium. This array of grains imparts a rich swirl of toffee, roasted, and dark fruit flavors, with an unexpected hint of chocolate in the background. In the hop profile, meanwhile, the traditional Golding varietal meets old school Liberty hops from the US. And the ABV is decidedly more American, too: in fact, at 4.5% Manor Hill can’t really call its beer a mild, so it’s settled on the Amber Ale designation. The truth is that Mild Manor’d is somewhere between the two. It’s complicated. "Mild Manor’d is what an English Mild would be if it was brewed with new world ingredients in the U.S. today," Little says. "I wanted to take that classic style, and bring all of its fantastic flavors forward, and maybe even elevate them a little more."