The Meantime brewery invited a group of beer writers to tour their ultra-modern brewery on the morning of the ‘trade day’ of the 2011 Great British Beer Festival.
Meantime package their draught beers in kegs (rather than casks) and so, like other craft brewers like Brewdog, their brews are excluded from CAMRA beer festivals like the GBBF.
The £2 million Meantime brewery, situated only yards from the Greenwich Meridian (that’s the line from which all longitudes and time zones are taken – hence Meantime) is the largest brewery to be built in London since the 1930s, and is testament to Meantime’s forethought – having seen many microbrewers fail to upscale, Meantime are investing for the future.
Meantime were founded in 1999 by Alastair Hook, whose formal learning of the art of brewing took place at Heriot Watt University and at the Weihenstepher brew school. Over the years, Meantime’s brews gained a reputation for both innovation and quality, and they supplied the Sainsbury supermarket chain with a range of exclusive ‘Taste the Difference’ brews. They also sold their brews at a couple of local bars including the ‘Greenwich Union’, close to the historic Greenwich Observatory.
They moved from their old premises to a German-built, state-of-the-art brewery in Greenwich, from where they produce around thirty different beers a year, most bottled, some in kegs. In the coming months I will explore more of their brews for The Brew Club, but for now, I will concentrate on their London Porter, which many consider a signature brew.
As you will spot from the photograph, this London Porter comes in a large 750ml bottle, with cork and cage. That’s close to 2 American pints of 6.6% ABV ale, so approach it with caution, or a friend.
The brew pours a very dark colour that reveals itself to be dark garnet when held to the halogen. Slightly paler than a Stout, but much darker than a bitter, the off-white head fades quickly, leaving a respectable lacing.
The nose is subtle, smokey, coffee to the fore with hints of woodsmoke and caramel.
It’s medium to full bodied, not too chewy, on the lighter side of Porter, and the flavour is a rich, heady, starting with a coffee/mocha mix, coffee and chocolate mingling on the palate, followed by dark caramel and burnt toast. There’s a flourish of bitter hops, but the coffee and chocolate linger.
I enjoyed a couple of sample glasses of Meantime’s London Lager at the brewery, and this brew has further reinforced my view that this is very much a brewery to reckon with. If you see a Meantime brew at your local beer-monger, (and remember there are plenty of styles to try) then give it a try, they know what they’re doing.
Bob the Brit