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When we decided to do a tour of the Meantime Brewery in Greenwich, the team and I were excited, as we felt this is a Brewery that has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Many of their wide range of Beers & lagers are found in many of London’s pubs, and their lagers are amongst my favourite.
A Brief History of Meantime Brewery
The brewery was founded by Alastair Hook in 2000. He learnt his craft at Heriot-Watt University and the brewing school of the Technical University of Munich, Weihenstephan. The brewery has three homes, the first in a lockup near Charlton Athletics grounds, then the Greenwich Brewery, and now their latest home since 2010 is on Blackwall Lane, Greenwich, SE10 0AR. In May 2015, the brewery was taken over by Sab Miller (the world’s second largest brewery).
The brewery is located on the side of Blackwall Lane in South East London, accessible by car, bus or train. We took the tube to North Greenwich and then took the bus (422) which is a short ride to the brewery.
The Meantime Brewery Tour
On arrival, the brewery looks modern and industrial chic. After announcing our arrival at reception we were shown to the bar area which was buzzing with a wide variety of people, from those simply enjoying the bar, to those on a night out and those booked on the tour. Having arrived 30 minutes early we decided to check out the range of different beers and lagers on offer. The bar has many of their popular beers, such as London Lager and Yakima Red, but also some that are new to the market and not readily found in all bars in London.
I opted for a pint of London Fresh Lager, a lager I have had before. I felt this would allow me to taste the difference between a pint from a pub and one straight from the source, served as intended. As the first pint of the night it went down very well indeed! After chatting to the bar staff and interviewing Jethro the youngest UK Beer sommelier (interview here), I decided my next pint would be Amarillo Amber, a 4.3% ABV amber ale, that came highly recommended. This was a great orange coloured light ale, with a fruity fresh taste, and very drinkable. Jethro even poured it for me!
After around thirty minutes sampling the delights of the visitor centre bar, it was announced that our tour which was being hosted by ‘Big Al’ would begin. The troops were gathered and the tour seemed to attract a variety of people including a stag party, tourists, some locals & of course beer enthusiasts. It soon became apparent that ‘Big Al’ was going to be quite the character, as he began the banter with various members of the newly assembled tour.
We were lead to the brewery and into the tasting room, where Big Al with the help of his unique sense of humour explained the background to the brewery. Each table had malts, barley and hops in their natural form. It was great to smell and taste the raw ingredients that go in to making quality beer & lager.
First, we tried the popular and unique Yakima Red, which is an Amber Ale. You would be forgiven for thinking this is from Japan, but in fact it is brewed with 5 hop varieties from the Yakima Valley, Washington State. At 4.1% ABV it isn’t as strong as some other ales. Big Al also details the type of food pairing that each drink sample would suit. Yakima red would ideally suit American BBQ food, ribs and cooked meats.
The second beer we tried was London Stout, a Schwarzbier. At 4.5% ABV this is stronger than the Yakima red, but a totally different style. It pours very dark and has a Guinness taste, but is softer on the palette. Food pairing- this would go well with a curry or oysters.
The tour then continued deeper into the brewery, starting in the grain store where we were talked through the best types of malts and reasons for using them in the brewing process. We also learnt that the best types come from Germany.
Next, we moved into the production area with the huge containers that brew the beers and lagers.
We then saw the bottling machines at work at the brand new automated bottling plant (which by the way used to be a manual job!). This reflects the scale of the business and how it has increased production up to the size it is today.
The final stop was back to the bar to continue trying the range of lager, but this time with our newly gained knowledge of the brewing process.
When do the brewery tours run?
Saturday: 12pm, 1:30pm, 3:00pm, 4:30pm, 6:00pm, 7:30pm
Sunday: 12pm, 2pm
How much does it cost?
*£20.00 per head
*£17.50 on Monday to Thursday and Sunday.
Bespoke private group tours are also available for parties of 15 – max 32 people for £25 per head.
How long does it take?
Tours last for two hours, please note this doesn’t include time at the bar pre and post tour so worth factoring in.
Points to note
- Under 18’s are not allowed on to the tour. Take ID if you look under 21
- Wear sensible tour footwear, where closed shoes, anybody wearing stilettos or sandals will not be able to go on the actual walk-about section of the tour.
- Smoking is not permitted on site at any time
- Drunk individuals will not be permitted entry due to the dangerous nature of the site, so don’t spend too long in the pub before your tour! The Alcohol Emporium team feel this is a valid point as you sample around 2-2.5 pints on the tour, plus any of the beer you drink beforehand in the bar it mounts up
The team overall had a really great night, the staff were helpful, friendly and knowledgeable about the beer and the brewery itself. The brewery is a really fascinating place to visit, the tours are very interesting whether you are a beer enthusiast or just enjoy the odd pint. We would highly recommend paying the brewery a visit. It is worth noting that there is a lot of information that you will receive about the beer process and brewery, so it is worth having a note pad or make notes on your mobile. The tour guides are happy to answer any questions from home brewers and even said that they were happy to elaborate on any specific questions after the tour.
There are a number of guides that could host the tour, Big Al is a real character and has a great knowledge of the brewery, and the team thought he was great. (But not recommended for those who offend easily!). We will certainly be trying out some of the other events the brewery hosts throughout the year.
To find out more information or book your tour visit https://www.meantimebrewing.com/brewery-tour/
If you want to keep updated on Twitter https://twitter.com/MeantimeBrewing
To find Meantime beers & lagers and other big brands click here