Midway through judging the Cask’s Not Dead Festival’s thirty-ish entries, a perfect beer engine pull of an ultra-traditional English Dark Mild sat before me. Scoring blind, it got a 10/10 for appearance, perfect for aroma, texture, everything. I’m a big fan of the Mild, which is sort of like a session stout: lower alcohol (3-6%), low bitterness, and a ‘mild’ roasty-toasty character from the malt.
As there are only a few breweries in Socal making the style and I had a pretty good idea who it was: Pizza Port San Clemente’s Nerf Herder Mild. The beer shines poured from a cask. It’s lively, marshmallowy-soft, and has that degree of “magic” one can only get from a traditional English ale poured the way it’s intended.
After judging, I ran into Kane Christensen – who made the beer, and he asked, “did you judge any Mild?” I replied yes, noting that the beer was a complete mess, pulling his leg a little bit. When they called his name for the first place traditional ale award, he was pretty shocked. “Gotcha!” I grinned.
Nerf Herder on draft isn’t bad, just different from cask with a bit of prickly carbonation. I’ve had it at one of the Pizza Port “It’s a Tap” events, and continues to be one of my favorite English ales at only 4.3%. The beer is currently on tap at their San Clemente location and is a perfect match as the weather cools down. Grab a growler for Thanksgiving!
Pizza Port San Clemente is at 301 N El Camino Real, San Clemente, pizzaport.com
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening this June!