Everyone of us who brews beer tends to think highly of our own product. If we didn't we would not be brewing. We hand out our brew to friends and family, but how often do we allow our beer to face a real test of its quality and authenticity?
Recently I brewed an English dark mild. To my mind it turned out great and I decided to put it to the test. Not a homebrew contest with certified judges. No indeed. I wanted to put it to the toughest test possible. To that end, I brought some to a dinner party hosted by a REAL "I rode to school on a double-decker bus" Englishman. I knew I was sticking my neck out, but this was something I had to do.
With no hint of its content, I poured my offering into a glass. My unwitting judge looked at it a bit quizzically while twisting the glass in his hand. With a quick sniff of the aroma, he downed a monster gulp. He placed the glass back on the table and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Then he took a step back, looked at me and said "That's a mild ale. Its good! You don't find those much in America."
Having never tasted a real English mild ale in my life I managed to brew one that was recognizable by an honest-to-God Englishman. Such moments in life are rare. Savor them.