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.


  1. This is great news. Is the Union staying open too...?

  2. Bailey, yes as far as I know, was there before I went to the OB and the Smoked Bock was delicious.

  3. Looking forwarding to visiting and the beer club sounds very interesting too.

    The idea behind plastic bags and pressure filling the vacuum around it .... isn't that just a key keg?


  4. Chunk
    you’ll have to ask Alastair about it, I do know someone else suggested it sounded like the tank dispensation in Czech pubs, but brewing technology is not a strength of mine as some might have noticed…I wasn’t very good at science in school either.

  5. Coming late to the party, I know, but . . .

    " . . . he brewed Franconian Dark Lager in 2002, several years before BrewDog claimed that the first one was Zeigeist . . ."

    & before that Alastair's former colleagues at Freedom had brewed an occasional bottled dark/black lager & at Meantime's near-neighbour, Zerodegrees Blackheath, I introduced one in 2001, which immediately became a permanent feature (it's still going, having sadly bumped off the luscious Brown Ale).

    (it won Silver at SIBA's S.E. competition 2002 - )

  6. Fater, son, und holy Wurst9 December 2010 at 05:02

    Good to see Proper Real Keg get a mention. Fuck CAMRA and their medieval methods of dispense. Proper Real Keg now has Brewdog's support. Put that in your backside and smoke CAMRA!