Beers, brewing and a shiny new boozer? Meantime Brewery opened its iconic doors to kick off the launch of their pub, shop and beer tasting facility combo - The Tasting Rooms. With a brother in tow and craft beer in sight, I found myself in Greenwich to mark this momentous occasion - with a pint.
A galvanised workshop of Meantime tanks, polished taps and wooden tables describes the Tasting Rooms physique. A playground of Meantime merchandise, walk-in chiller for cold beer-to-go purchasing and a steelwork scene of giant conical tanks make up the shop space attached to the bar and restaurant area. Meander through with a pint in hand and discover the industrial innards of this Greenwich empire. The Tasting Rooms development feels much like uncovering the inner workings of a clock or robot - lifting the lid on the metallic insides and cogs of the monstrous brewing system that has awarded Meantime its world class success in the industry. The whole space challenges the concept of industrial art with gleaming tanks emblazoned with the Meantime logo bringing the factory type workings of brewing onto the stage of theatre.
After settling in with some pre-tour pints, we were lead around the brewery on a journey of discovering the laboratory behind the Meantime brand. Talk of hops, malts, yeast, sugars and wheat ensued standing surrounded by the giant steaming, whirring and boiling tanks as they went about their day to day business. Our guide educated us in the process, product and people behind the brewery detailing facts of fermentation, maturation and hectolitres and the lowdown on lautering (notes were obviously scribbled). Every beer brewers dream is captured in this experience putting shame to the home grown hops you can buy down the pharmacy and welcoming you into the magnificent world of huge scale mass production. You'll find no hop plants growing on any window sills here - just the finest globally sourced ingredients mashed, boiled and brewed into the golden good stuff.
Some insider knowledge about Meantime for you:
- The brewery has the capacity to generate 21 Million pints a year - they plan to expand this to 39 Million
- 2014 saw 38 different beers brewed in their Greenwich Brew House
- The company has 12,000 buyers in London and the South East alone
- Meantime were the first British brewer to introduce the 'Tank Beer Concept' giving the optimum tasting conditions to every pint pulled.
Meantime have established brand excellence through consistent and maintained quality control standards.
The Food & Drink
It's worth mentioning that Meantime officially complies with the strictest brewing regulations in the world - that of the land of the Lederhosen (Germany to all you uncultured folk). With the founder, Brewmaster and all round legend Alastair Hook behind the brewing process, with a Tactical Degree in Brewing and a Masters in Brewing from the world's beer capital, Germany, Meantime fully deserves it's recognition in producing some world class hop mixtures. Toting all beers great and small, tasters of their limited edition ale (Norwegian Seasonal Winter Sun) among some of their fan favourites (IPA) were handed out for our supping pleasures, with the much anticipated pulling of the first Tasting Rooms Pale Ale to come later in the night.
A diet of beer and munchies was the evenings calling card. Smorgasboards of crumbed fish fingers, mini burgers, chips, arancini balls with a dip as well as mozzarella, tomato and basil cocktail sticks were handed out on the evening to tasty acclaim. As a sucker for a Pale Ale in all shapes and forms, the Tasting Rooms Pale Ale was hop-tastic heaven. Even those new to the craft beer movement can appreciate the smooth, soft taste of this brew.
The entertainment for the evening came from musician Tony Bowen who played an acoustic set of audience chosen jams. Performing under the title HumanJukebox, Tony took live requests from the crowd through Twitter and played them on the spot. Just a man and his guitar, this fella played everything from No Diggity to Take That. Whatever you want, he's got it and damn he was good.
The craft beer industry has never been stronger with a thirst developed for home brewing techniques and micro brewery businesses. With the launch of the Tasting Rooms, Meantime are pioneering the 'Modern Craft Beer' experience, leading the movement in the industry towards engaging and educating the public on the process and products of brewing; lifting the lid on the journey from grain to glass. Representing one of Britain's powerhouse breweries and brands, the Greenwich Meantime company are continuing to revolutionise their approach to creating innovative and outstanding beers. Cheers to them!