Monday, 22 March 2010
London gets another great beer venue with The Old Brewery
A gleaming Italian-built micro brewery stands at one end of the high-ceilinged room and the warm smell of the mash pervades the air. On the walls a time line encircles the room and notes significant dates in beer and brewing. The bar stands, a host of taps waiting to issue beers from Meantime — welcome to the Old Brewery at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, Meantime’s latest enterprise, a brewpub that will serve great beer. A couple of weeks ago I had lunch here with Meantime’s founder and inspirational brewmaster Alastair Hook to talk about lager for a feature I was writing. I also got a brief tour of the Old Brewery, but promised not to write about it until the launch, which was today. From what I saw this is a thoroughly modern space and a great showcase for Hook’s marvellous beers. It will also be wonderful for food: I had Herdwick mutton and potatoes with anchovy juice, accompanied by a crisp and clean glass of Meantime Helles, which cut through the unctuousness of the mutton and cleansed the mouth. Afterwards we went to the cellar, where Hook told me about the Meantime Kellerbier which will be stored in a polythene bag in a tank; the tank will be pressurised to aid the dispensation of the beer, but no extraneous CO2 will touch the beer, so it’s real ale I was told. I like Alastair and I like the beers he makes. He’s a pioneer — he was doing filtered and unpasteurized lager beers years ago while ask him about dark lager and he will point out that he brewed Franconian Dark Lager in 2002, several years before BrewDog claimed that the first one was Zeigeist. It’s easy to forget that Meantime has been around for 10 years and having proved a point with lager his IPA and London Porter showed that he wasn’t a one-yeast pony. He can sometimes come across as an abrasive chap, but I find him inspirational to talk beer with (just as I do with John Keeling and the Thornbridge guys) and totally lacking in bull. I asked him if he had mellowed and he replied ‘I’ve always walked the walk,’ which I took as a no. So if you have a chance I would recommend a trip down to Greenwich and the Old Brewery as London gets another good beer venue.