Having exhausted most of the brewery tours in our immediate location, we ventured to Meantime Brewery in Greenwich, London. Arriving by the Thames Clipper on a chilly March morning, it seemed the perfect way to get there, docking at Greenwich Naval College.
- The tour itself was very good and definitely more setup for visitors. Our guide an enthusiastic, interesting, funny and frankly hipster gentleman guided us from the bar up to the “tasting room”. Here we were treated to a history of the company, which is normally time to fall asleep, however our guide made it genuinely entertaining, with good Q&A with all who wished to participate. We then went on to the brewery itself.
- After the talk it was time for the tasting (YES!!) Here we were treated to a generous third or two of their core range of beers: London Lager, London Pale Ale, Yakima Red (my favourite of the range) and London Stout. One lady who wasn’t particularly keen on beer was treated to a glass of their Raspberry Wheat beer. Meantime make around 45 different beers a year.
- Meantime’s core beer style could be described as ‘British beer in a European style’. However, the beers they make on a limited run are a free for all of flavours. My favourite of the day was Yakima Red, a great ruby red ale using English and German malts and five US hops grown in the Washington state, these give a real nice well rounded beer that doesn’t smack you round the face.
- At the back of the gift shop they have a walk in beer fridge (need one of those!). Here you can buy their core range and whatever seasonal beers they have in bottles. I bought a bottle of my favourite, the 750ml IPA (everything an IPA should be) and their seasonal Cinnamon Porter.
- The gift shop itself is a nicely done affair with the usual t-shirts, glassware and some nice soap.
The Pretty Good…
- The bar sells the core range and a few others (Chocolate Porter, Wheat) but none of the seasonal beers or large bottles…a shame if you want to have taste before committing to replenishing your home stock!
- The tour was fully booked at around thirty people, it was fine in the tasting room which was clearly built for a crowd to sit down (only one loo though), however in the brewery it was hard to hear the guide unless you were near the front of the group.
Meantime brewery was started by Alastair Hook in 2000. He trained at Heriot-Watt University and the brewing school of the Technical University of Munich of Weihenstephan. Starting out in premises in Chalton and then upgrading to a place in Greenwich. Alastair won brewer of the year in 2008, whilst the Coffee Porter was Britain’s first Fairtrade beer winning Gold at the 2006 World Beer Cup and their beers have been winning awards before and since. Meantime seem to have found a happy medium in today’s beer industry, while you will find their beers on tap in many pubs throughout London, they are also in the “craft” beer scene, experimenting and collaborating with other breweries like Brewdog who used Meantime’s premises for a while.