The good news is Meantime do not use Grolsch in London Lager ! We have, on rare occasions brewed beer to our strict specifications with other brewers to help us during peak sales periods when we are struggling to meet demand.
Brewers all around the world are celebrating the momentum that craft beer has. Hundreds of likeminded brewers are growing at a rate of knots and the main beneficiary is the consumer. More choice, more flavour, more local breweries to be proud of. Meantime have been brewing beer for other craft breweries since 2000. During this time, I have personally worked with a double digit number of passionate and amazing brewers to help them through times of lack of capacity. There is no greater sin than for a brewer to run out of beer….but with growth comes liquidity issues and building new capacity over-night doesn’t happen easily. Every brewer I know wants a bigger boat! Meantime have never criticised fellow brewers who are doing their best to keep the beer taps flowing and we have been happy to help those who have asked for it. It goes with the territory.
We have been investing in new technology and capacity for 15 years and with the best will in the world peak demand in summer throws challenges. Many brewers brew what the Germans call ‘summer beer’ which takes half the maturation time to get the beer out of the door quickly. We don’t.
Meantime have been growing at 50% per year for the last 6 or 7 years, and we have never had the cash to turn on ‘instant infrastructure’. This experience is common amongst most craft brewers. So what they do is help each other whilst they plan greater capacity. Why brew on somebody else’s kit , with all the associated costs, unless you absolutely have to? Blending beer to match your objectives both in the brewery , and with beer from other brewers in times of shortage, is normal in brewing.
The good news for Meantime is that £3m is being ploughed in to extra capacity in the next 18 months to avoid the need to brew beer on other brewers’ kit. SABMiller believe a brewery should not be working at more than 80% capacity, and invest accordingly. For a brewer who has been brewing at 100% capacity for 15 years this for myself and brewing team is manna from heaven. Beer I have brewed on the continent for blending at Meantime has been personally overseen to our own recipe’s standards, it is properly matured and un-pasteurised. Whilst all of this has been going on we have increased brewery capacity by 50%!