Thursday, 17 September 2015

Gaining "The Knowledge" with Meantime Brewery

I was recently given the opportunity to visit the Meantime Brewery in Greenwich to take a tour of their brewery and take a sneak-peak at their tutored beer theory sessions, called "The Knowledge".

Meantime beers, founded in Greenwich in 2000 by Alastair Hook, have been a firm favourite of mine over the last few years and their spread across pubs in the capital and beyond has been very impressive to see. They take their ties to Greenwich very seriously, with the brand named after Greenwich's most famous export - time. This is taken even further with the fact that they grow some hops on the Greenwich peninsula, as such they can truly count themselves as a London producer (although the amount of hops they get from this site does make up a statistically small proportion of their overall supply). Like a lot of successful smaller-scale ventures in this sector they have been acquired by a larger group, in this case SABMiller (who count Fosters, Millers, Castle, Peroni and Pilsner Urquell as part of their portfolio), earlier this year. The early indications are that this will only aid Meantime in expanding their production and furthering their reach - which has to be a good thing!

On our trip we were given a tour around the brewery by Rod who has been working with Meantime since very near the beginning. We were shown around the working heart of the brewery, Rod spoke with obvious pride and passion at its operation. The ethos behind Meantime is to look for clean and pure processes with a focus on unpasteurised production techniques. They have a core range of traditional styles, including: Lagers, Pale Ales, Wheat Beers, Porters and Stouts, as well as having on-site some barrel aged products that go to make special, small-batch lines. Walking around the site with Rod really gave a fantastic insight in to the level of effort that goes in to product development, production and quality control in an operation as big as Meantime. No wonder they have been so successful!

After our tour Rod took us up to a nice, comfortable classroom at the back of the factory which is where they give their beer tasting masterclasses that they call "the Knowledge". These courses range from two hour sessions to whole day events; you can even do a course on beer and cheese matching! Once more I was impressed by the breadth and range of Rod's knowledge for all things beer - interestingly we also shared a passion for German wine, which led to a couple of thoroughly interesting off-topic chats. During our session we tried three of the beers from the Meantime range which allowed us to see how the production lines that we'd seen result in these wonderful beers:

We started with Meantime's London Lager (available from Majestic at £10.99 for six bottles). This is described by Meantime as the "quintessential English lager". What is noticeable here is the balance that exists between the hoppy and malty characteristics of the beer. This is a beautifully clean and pure lager, which comes from its unpasteurised production techniques.  

Next up was their Yakima Red (available from Waitrose at £1.79/bottle). As you would expect from the name this beer has a nice dark red tinge to it which comes from the combination of British and German malts. The addition of American hops to this beer gives a typically tropical, fruity characteristic.

Last up was Meantime's Wheat Beer. The beer had that familiar banana bread aroma to it (which fills me with dread as I DETEST bananas), which Rod explained came from the esters in the beer. On the mouth it had a nice, soft feel to it. I don't think I'll ever be the world's biggest wheat beer fan, but this was a perfectly decent example.

Thank you to Rod and the Meantime team for a very enjoyable evening. If you would like to gain "the knowledge" with Meantime then follow this link.

Disclaimer: I did not pay for this session, the views contained within this article are, nonetheless, my own.     

No comments:

Post a Comment