Ambler's Forest & Main Brewing boxed up some mild to sell during March Mildness.

March Mildness, the beer-drinking antithesis to March Madness, comes to Philly

Let’s face it: March doesn’t have a whole lot going for it. There’s the first day of spring, St. Patrick’s Day, daylight saving time … Can you tell we’re grasping at straws?

March got a little more pep in its step in 1982, when the NCAA’s brand of March Madness started catching on with the American public. The internet-age popularity of brackets boosted its profile, making it a household term even for those who can’t name a single college basketball team.

This year, a group of Philly (and New York and New Jersey) breweries have co-opted March Madness to celebrate something on the opposite end of the spectrum: mildness.

For those unfamiliar, a mild ale is a classic British beer style that’s low in alcohol, supremely easy-drinking, and, in truth, maybe a little forgettable — neither overwhelmingly hoppy nor malty, just middle of the road.

“Think of it as a lighter, smoother brown ale kinda thing,” says Gerard Olson of Ambler’s Forest & Main Brewing. “It’s the kind of beer that … lends itself to drinking without thinking about it.”

In 2021, Forest & Main coordinated the Philly-area debut of March Mildness, a monthlong event first established in 2017 by Machine House Brewery in Seattle. Mildness started small but grew to be citywide. “It was a mild drinking competition,” Olson says. “People would keep track of how much mild people were drinking and at the end of the month, they would crown the winner.”

This month, Olson has tapped colleagues at 30 other breweries to participate in a tristate March Mildness spanning from Honesdale, Pa., to North Cape May, and Brooklyn to Lancaster, with 18 in the Philly area alone. Each participating brewery will have a mild on draft all month and distribute a March Mildness passport, which can be stamped to earn entries for an April raffle at Forest & Main.

“We’re really excited, in a mild sort of way,” Olson says. Forest & Main has thrown itself into the event, designing Wild for Mild merchandise and packaging 5-liter bags of mild — boxed-wine style — for at-home consumption.

“We tried to put those out as a presale because we weren’t sure how many of these [should] we fill,” he says. “They sold out really quick. We were really surprised that all these mild freaks are out there.” (More boxes are coming.)

Mild is just as it sounds, so don’t expect any “coconut vanilla bourbon barrel-aged milds,” as Olson puts it. But do expect the milds to be pleasant and quaffable, like the Mild Daze at Attic Brewing, which clocks in at 3.9% ABV.

The participating Philly breweries are: Artifact Brewing in Hatboro; Attic Brewing in Germantown; Bill’s Best in Glenside; Brewery ARS in West Passyunk and Fishtown; Carbon Copy in West Philly; Cartesian in East Passyunk; Crime and Punishment in Brewerytown; Forest & Main in Ambler; Human Robot in Kensington, Jenkintown, Center City, and South Philly; Humble Parlor in Fishtown; New Ridge in Roxborough; Our Town in Francisville; Rebel Hill in Phoenixville; Second District in West Passyunk; the Seed in Atlantic City; Tonewood in Oaklyn, N.J.; Trouble’s End in Collegeville; Well Crafted in Ambler and Lansdale; and Whims Brewing in Atco, N.J.

Find a full list of participants at Forest & Main’s website.

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