|  Meantime


This is my first time writing on here, so hello I’m Dan. I’m a Tour Guide at Meantime and on Friday’s I’m the #MeantimeDeliveryGuy. A prerequisite for my job is that you kind of have to like beer and I certainly do. As of late, wherever I go, at least a part of my trip will involve beer. I don’t just mean drinking it, I mean a beer or alcohol related activity like a brewery tour.

In August I made a couple of trips back to my native county Cornwall. Now Cornwall has a strong drinking culture. There are cider mills, vineyards, distilleries and numerous types of brewery i.e. craft, real ale etc. In short, I’m never short of a drink related activity when I visit home. So in August, I visited two fantastic Cornish breweries with quite different styles. For reasons I suppose of solidarity and a general celebration of beer beyond the walls of the Meantime Brewing Company (and a touch of corporate espionage), let me tell you about my trip to Skinner’s Brewery.

If it was ever appropriate to refer to a brewery tour as decadent – and I appreciate it may never be – then this is possibly as close as it comes. Upon ringing the brewery, I was informed that all those attending (minimum of ten people) would receive seven pints of beer and a pasty for £16.50 a head. ‘Wow, how liberal…’ I said upon finding out, to which the woman replied, ‘Yes, but drinking responsibly is something we do encourage’. I thought to myself that that simply couldn’t be true. Regardless, I was excited to see the brewery and have a few drinks.

One of our group members had been recently informed that eating pears before drinking alcohol reduced a hangover. Something I accepted without question at the time but I’ve since found back up http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/ Knowing full well what lay ahead, we bought pears en masse. Nervously chomping away at my third small pear, we approached a rather dingy looking little brewery. Several elderly men stumbled out of reception with childlike smirks on their faces. I took this as a good sign. We were guided into a dimly lit room with aged wooded furniture and a bar with a selection of traditional hand pumps as expected, but also lager, cider and even wine taps. We were encouraged to get a drink and take a seat.

Skinner’s brewery was founded in 1997 making it a similar age to Meantime. It produces cask, keg and bottle. Despite being a very Cornish-centric brewery with all the barley used grown in Cornwall, there were a number of foreign hops about the place — quite sensibly in 2015. It’s not quite an artisan brewery neither an industrial one. It’s kind of somewhere in between, utilitarian I guess. There’s no beautiful old equipment and nothing is state of the art, but everything works and it works well. The beers are incredibly drinkable, and the branding is a lot of fun with some of the beers named after characters from Cornish folklore. These two factors seem to work well for the brewery.

After watching some peculiar cult like promotion video on the big screen in the bar, we began to drink. For those of you that are less than familiar with this brewery, their flagship beer is ‘Betty Stogs’. Stogs is an amber coloured Cornish bitter with not so Cornish hops. It’s named after a woman who, in Cornish folklore, supposedly lost her children in a drunken gin stupor only for them to be returned by ale fairies. The rejection of gin and her embracing of ale was said to have reformed her as a mother. It was a different time. Having worked our way through the taps, the conclusion was drawn that these beers were designed at 4-4.5% ABV to be ‘sessioned’. Only one of the beers stood out for me as something to be taken a little more seriously and that was their ‘Porthleven’, again, an amber coloured ale with some unidentified ‘new world’ hops in it.

Having toured the brewery for about 30 minutes, we returned to the bar to finish our drinks. If I were a proud man I’d tell you that seven pints was only scratching the surface, but I do have a liquid capacity ! What an afternoon. Although I certainly wouldn’t encourage anyone to drink as much as was on offer, there was something really down to earth about the whole experience. Even though it’s perhaps a little muddled in places, the identity of the Skinner’s Brewery certainly has a warmth to it.

Despite this being a fairly one dimensional brewery tour, where education comes second, I think for some people, this is what a brewery tour should be. It’s extraordinary value for money, it’s moderately educational in parts and despite the owners not being from Cornwall themselves, Skinner’s is very much a stalwart of Cornish drinking culture at present. If you’re visiting Cornwall, this tour deserves serious consideration. If you are going to do it, make sure you plan. Find a babysitter, eat some pears and don’t wait till afterwards to make any important life decisions. All information can be found on the Skinners website: http://www.skinnersbrewery.com.

Things I’ve learnt
1. Skinners beers are frighteningly drinkable
2. Pears might reduce a hangover
3. I have a limit (this seems to be a regular lesson)

Beer Heroes

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