The first pub I went to on my tour of the Black Country last week was the Bull and Bladder in Brierley Hill, the brewery tap of Bathams.
Turning right into the vault, the regulars sitting silently over their beer made it clear that this was a locals' bar. I ordered a pint of mild and took a seat in the beer garden with its view of the tower brewery .
Black Country milds aren't just less hoppy than bitter, they're positively sweet. Bathams Mild with its clean sweet malt taste is very different to milds in Manchester like Holt's and Robinson's and the first one I drank, the superb and long-gone Wilsons with its hefty smack of caramel. Bathams Bitter also has a clean sweet malt taste and is very drinkable. I can see why the food critic Charles Campion and music producer Pete Waterman rate it among their favourite beers.