Something's brewing in South London
Something’s brewing in South London.
Hidden in an industrial estate on the North Greenwich peninsula lies the Meantime Brewery, an independent beer makers quietly expanding an empire that now sees them with contracts with major supermarket and pub chains.
With an image of huge wooden kegs and mysterious machinery firmly implanted in my head I arrived to be ushered into a sparkling lobby and shop, complete with corporate labelled glasses and t-shirts.
Tour members where swiftly guided up a flight of stairs to a sparse bar, where clearly beer was the one thing on the menu - but with beer like this who could want for more?
Flavourful, but with only a light carbonation London Lager, the first half-pint on offer, disappeared with startling speed and the London Pale Ale, stronger in flavour and head, but lighter on ABV took little longer.
The final beer, one of the brewery’s eight seasonal offerings, Pacific Pale Ale, had strong hints of fruit and was less to my taste, but with autumn of the way, a brew in honour of Bavaria’s Oktoberfest is now set to take its place.
Meaantime run two tours on Saturdays and with a group of more than 20 (including a stag party intent on getting as much for their money as possible) steadily getting well oiled, could have could have got out of hand fast.
In stepped the star of the show, tour guide Alex, who combined outrageous market stall patter with genuine knowledge of the industry expertly.
At £15 the tour is a steal – we polished off five half pints during the informative talk, which featured everything from the history behind beer-drinking in London through to the origins of the name lager.
On top of that there was tasting of specialist brews such as Raspberry beer, and tasting different malt barley seeds to understand where the flavours originate from.
With the first part of my afternoon complete I was whisked without delay to The Old Brewery, one of Meantime’s two pubs dotted in the Greenwich area, for a late lunch.
Eating from the bar menu, which was extremely limited, with higher than average prices – £11.95 for my sausage and mash, £12.50 for a fish and chips - my initial reaction was I may be less impressed than my earlier session.
The food, which each come with a Meantime beer recommendation to compliment the palate, could not be faulted but failed to live up to the stella pricing.
The pub itself is very narrow, opening into a canteen-like room backing onto the old, but still working brewery, while the site boasts an attractive beer garden.
A pub which takes its beer seriously I would recommend it as a night out ahead of a meal-time treat, but to be honest, if I’d had my way, the afternoon and evening would have been whiled away with the charismatic Alex slowly drinking my way through the brewers’ best.