|  Meantime

#BEERHEROES FAVOURITE BEERS OF 2015.

Our #Beerheroes are professionals. Ensuring they keep up to speed with everything that’s happening in the fast evolving craft beer scene not only here in the UK, but across the world is only a small part of the job. They also have the tough ask of trying as many varied styles and brands from across the globe to ensure we’re on top of everything that is new and exciting in the world of beer. We’ve compiled their favourite beers from the last 12 months, and we’re not just talking Meantime either. Get your pencil and notebook out as you will want to try these beers across the next few months.

 


In the line-up this year we have current Beer Sommelier of the Year and walking beer encyclopaedia Rod Jones (seriously we are yet to find a question he can’t answer), alongside Big Al everyone’s favourite tour guide and funny man, Ciaran our Brewmaster and last but not least, Jethro who also runs tours, has an infectious passion for the brewing world and knows everything under the sun about the craft brewing scene in the UK.

 


Favourite Meantime Beer

This year was a dead heat between the cognac barrel aged IPA and the West Coast IPA. I tasted the first IPA direct from the oak cognac cask, and the second direct from the tank – both behind the scenes in the brewery during tastings with Ciaran. Two incredibly different beers, both IPA’s, which show the range of colour, style and flavour that can be achieved in a brewery like Meantime which is committed to pushing the envelope with regard to creating new beers.

The cognac barrel aged version took Meantime’s standard 7.4% abv IPA, with its full-bodied malt background and marmalade/ginger hoppiness, and mellowed it in oak casks from the Hine cognac distillery. The result was a remarkable deep amber beer with some alcohol spirit balanced by dark fruit and a rich Madeira character.

The West Coast IPA was a bright golden beer with tropical fruit and grapefruit citrus and a long clean finish. What was remarkable about this beer was its incredible drinkability and balance, despite its 6.5% abv strength and its 100 bitterness units, as measured in Meantime’s lab. This was the very first beer to be brewed in Meantime’s new pilot brewery, and was brewed by Alastair Hook, our founder, showing that the master hasn’t lost his touch!

 

Favourite non-Meantime Beers

Harvey’s Imperial Extra Double Stout – tasted (many times) in the Royal Oak, Tabard St in the Borough. This is a wonderful take on the Imperial Stout style, which gets stored for a year to mature and perfect complex flavours of coffee, prunes, bitter chocolate, figs, molasses, and develop a slight lactic edge which offsets the roast malt flavours. Pitch black with a thick brown head. My only regret with this beer is that, since Fullers have taken over Gale’s of Horndean (who used to bottle this beer for Harvey’s) a conventional metal cap has replaced the cork which previously sealed the bottle.

Pinkus Mȕller Mȕnstersch Alt – tasted twice this year in the brewer’s ancient taprooms in the heart of the beautiful old city of Mȕnster. As you walk up Kreuzstrasse, approaching the tavern for lunch, you can smell the aromas of malt and hops as the beer is being brewed. This Altbier is a cousin of the other top fermented specialities of Nordrhein-Westfallen, Kölsch and Dȕsseldorfer Alt, and is the sole surviving example of the Mȕnster style. Once, some 150 breweries produced this style, but now only Pinkus Mȕller remains. Brewed using exclusively organic raw materials, the beer is matured for six months and develops a lactic acid sharpness. It is then back-blended with younger beer to produce a dark-golden, very drinkable beer with a slightly wine-like feel and some balanced bitterness at the end. It is served in small tumblers with a huge foaming white head and is unfiltered.

Rodenbach Vintage 2009, single vat number 145 – tasted at home from a 750 ml corked bottle that I was given in the brewery about four years ago, and matured since then on my wine rack. The gallery of wooden fermenters and maturation vats in the brewery is one of the most impressive sights in any brewery anywhere. The standard Rodenbach and the Grand Cru are blends of three year old and younger beers. The rare vintage single vat version is 100% three year old oak aged beer. It is a deep mahogany red/brown colour with an off-white head. It has the most intense flavours of black grapes, dark plums, wood and a lactic sourness, which is perhaps not for the beginner. A really remarkable beer that resembles nothing so much as a fine mature Burgundian Pinot Noir.
Those of you who are paying attention will have spotted that all three of these beers have a touch of lactic acid sharpness about them, and that is no coincidence.

 

Brewery of the Year

Augustiner, Munich. Munich’s last privately owned brewery, and the beer that any true Mȕnchener will tell you is Munich’s best. Augustiner is a brewery with ancient traditions, spends no money on marketing or advertising, cannot be bought or sold (it’s a trust) and declines to follow fashion. It produces easily the best range of traditional beer styles of any brewery in Germany and owns and runs Munich’s best beerhalls and beergardens. The Augustinerkeller, next to the brewery – in what used to be stables for the dray horses – sells my favourite lager in the world, Edelstoff, direct from oak casks as does the main Augustiner beergarden, which is a short walk away, across the Hackerbrucke bridge. The perfect afternoon is to have a hearty lunch in the beerkeller and then cross the railway lines to enjoy a few litre mugs of Edelstoff under the shady chestnut trees. Bavarian heaven.

 

Favourite Meantime Beer

Pilot IPA. Brewed by the founder of Meantime, Mr Alastair Hook on our brand new pilot brewery here in Greenwich and in my humble opinion it’s an absolute blinder. At 6.7% in ABV it’s not to be taken for granted, full of dry hopping and packing a great big punch of grapefruit on the nose and also on the palette, this IPA is an absolute winner! To put it to you in a very direct way, if you can get down to our Tasting Rooms on a Friday night when our brewers have finished work for the week, this is what you’ll see them drinking. Big, bold, and unapologetically juicy this is definitely a beer to be reckoned with.
Favourite non-Meantime Beers 

Beavertown, Bloody ‘Ell – Now ladies and gents this brewery is one of my go to’s, and not just in London, but full stop, these boys and girls were my favourite brewery last year and their Bloody ‘Ells is an unabashed American IPA at 7.2% ABV. After aclimatising myself last year to their Gamma Ray, in true Beavertown style they’ve upped the bar yet again Had this at Craft Beer Rising at the beginning of 2015 and what a bit of kit it turned out to be, full of Amarillo and Citra hops and on top of that they’ve primed it with an abundance of blood orange zest and juice late in the boil, the IBU’s really let you know that they ain’t mucking about, rocking up at no less than 70!

Pressure Drop, Bosco – Had this for the first time in The Vanbrugh, a pub that’s a stones throw away from our brewery, at my mate Malcoms 50th, and it totally blew me away. This little firm are relatively new in the whole scheme of things, being founded in 2012, their first beers being let loose on the public in January 2013, and this lot remind you straight away of that old saying ‘Age is just a number!’, coming big and strong from the depths of Hackney, this clocks up at a not to shabby 6.5% ABV and yet again is a behemoth of a libation. Pouring a hazy copper colour with a fantastic foamy head, not only did I get sweet berries from the hops but citrus and pine, also fantastic malt notes aswell, great tasting beer, I do believe it’s your shout winkle, I’ll have the same again Bruv!

Russian River Brewing, Pliny The Elder – I know that if you know your beer this is a bit of a rarity, brought over from the U.S. by a good mate of mines pal, and I can already guess what you’re thinking, and that answer is ‘yes’, it does live up to the hype as far as I’m concerned. I was lucky enough to have this beer as fresh as a daisy and I got everything that I was looking for, it’s described as a ‘double IPA’ and it’s the strongest beer on my list at 8% but I was amazed at not only the expected hop blast from Amarillo, CTZ and Simcoe, but it’s without a shadow of a doubt got a fantastic malt balance to parry with the bitterness, it just delivers such an easy and enjoyable drinking experience without the need to be dissected, to me that’s what drinking good beer is all about.

 

Brewery of the Year

Pilsner Urquell – That was a shot out of the blue wasn’t it my lovely little Meansters! It’s the only thing on my list that isn’t an IPA, but I have a real soft spot for this brewery, (Pilsner Urquell are the only other branded glasses that I have in my house other than Meantime’s) this lot from the Czech Republic are responsible for bringing all of us the very first straw coloured Pilsner in 1842 and I was lucky enough to be taken out to their brewery last year. The thing is, it’s all about the freshness and the pour, and I wasn’t disappointed with either, whether it be unpasteurised and unfiltered in the brewery or straight out of a tank in one of the many bars I frequented during the stay.

 

 

 

 

Favourite Meantime Beer

Pilot IPA – 6.9% ABV. This is our first beer produced on the new pilot plant and i think all who have come into contact with it have been impressed with how outstanding this beer is. It’s a Southern Californian IPA and its packed full of summit hops and smile hops and its full of flavour. There is a wonderful fruity aroma of strawberries and lychee and then balanced beautifully with a pleasing sweetness from the malt. A strong beer which is very drinkable.

Favourite non-Meantime Beers

Artisan Cervesa – Bucuramanga, Colombia – Pale Ale (ABV Unknown !). I was on holiday in the middle of the year in Colombia visiting some friends and as we wandered around the new statue of Christ we found a small unassuming stall where a local man had opened up a small brewery and was selling his beers. I started with my pigeon Spanish and found out that he had become fascinated with beers some years previously and started to home brew and that in the summer of 2015 he took the plunge and started to brew commercially on his small kit in the living room of his house. I think its fair to say this is not the best technical beer in the world but i loved drinking it and sharing stories of beer with a complete stranger in a language I do not speak!

Blackjack Brewery Jabberwocky sterling hop 4.0% – I was in my home town of Rochdale during the Christmas holidays and after the floods myself and a group of friends met up for a few festive pints and a catch up. We met in a pub called the Baum, the pub is located next door to the original shop which later became the first successful co-operative society. There was this beautifully 4.0% well balanced pale ale that was full of sterling hop and I loved it and drank it all night long, a cracking pint.
Russian River Pliny the Elder. Imperial IPA 8.0% ABV – This is a hard beer to get your hands on and overtime I manage to find a bottle or two. I can honestly say that when I do I am never disappointed. It is one of the best examples of American Imperial IPA full of hoppy flavour, well balanced and drinkable and consistently so. A great beer.

Favourite Meantime Beer
For me the best beer Meantime did this year was our Amarillo Amber. A single hop pale ale using the hop Amarillo (obviously). It’s one of my favourite Washington State hops as it has a lovely fruit and floral note that’s almost soft on the pallet. We use it in our Yakima Red but it’s alongside 4 other hops so it makes it much harder to pick out Amarillo’s the characteristics.

Favourite Non-Meantime Beers

Sierra Nevada, Nooner Pilsner – Sierra Nevada are most famous for their IPA’s but they have bucked the trend and made an absolutely cracking pilsner. Given their west coast base they have put their own twist on the traditional German beer style by adding whole cone hops giving it slight spicy and floral notes. Crisp, dry, balanced and 5.2% ABV. Drink in the sunshine and enjoy.

Brew Dog, Born to Die, 8.5% ABV, Imperial Pale Ale – Brew Dog managed to do their usual and punch me in the face with flavour…and I liked it. Hopped numerous times in the brewing process giving it huge hop flavours of sharp fruit, pine and citrus. At 8.5% ABV this isn’t a session beer by any means, one to drink slowly and enjoy the Scottish brewers knock out right hook.

Weyerbacher, Sunday Morning Stout, 11.3% ABV. Wow… a bourbon barrel aged coffee Stout. There is so much going on it this beer that I am not really sure where to start. I shared a bottle with my pal and every sip I had gave me something different; coffee, dark malt, whisky and a touch of alcohol burn as it went down. If we are drinking responsibly (as we all should) this beer shouldn’t actually be drunk for breakfast. Unless you are looking for the ultimate hair of the dog that is.
Favourite Brewery of 2015

Howling Hops, Hackney is a top top brewery based in Hackney with excellent tap room attached. They have a great range of beers from Black IPA’s to Rye Wit’s that are all brewed to perfection. The tap room is fantastic; on the same sight as the brewery, cool bench seating and best of all the beer is served straight from tank to glass. The brewery is also right next door to Crate Brewery as well so you can easily go and get a pizza by the canal when you are done at Howling.

Categories:
Beer Heroes

Were you born before 15th December 2000?

Yes

We remember dial up.

or.... No, there was a time before broadband?

You’ve reached this page because you clicked NO to being over 18.


While you wait:

In 2000, 34% of Internet users used dial-up. This dropped to 3% in 2013, before it was stopped completely in the UK.