Meantime are about to unveil a new beer and there will be sample tastings at the brewery in March.
I’d have loved to have been there but sadly I can’t make it.
All this got me thinking about Meantime and how I’d not had any for a while, and so I decided that if I couldn’t get my hands on their new beer I’d work my way back through their core range.
This is what I found…
India Pale Ale (7.5%)
Now here’s a thing.
The first time I had this, when it first hit the supermarket shelves in it’s beautiful 750ml bottle I wasn’t too impressed.
It was because, unless you look very carefully, you can’t tell that it’s bottle conditioned and so I drank a mouthful of yeasty badness.
This time, having poured it properly, this is an absolutely brilliant IPA.
Rich and chewy looking in the glass, the colour is a deep and glowing honeyed orange with a whisp of a creamy head.
The flavour is big.
No, it’s not, it’s enormous.
Deep and full and rich with tropical fruits, you are treated to a nose full of toffee and heather covered greenery while a malted milk biscuit crumbles away on your tongue.
This provides a fabulous stage for the hops.
Mango fibrousness, oranges and lemons, a squeeze of kiwi zing, heavy with chewy sweets, and a yummy woodiness that begins your journey into the extensively long and dry crisp finish.
London Porter (6.5%)
Another top beer from the Meantime stable, and another that hides its ABV dangerously well.
I do love these 750ml bottles too. They look great and, coupled with a half pint stemmed glass, they can make a pint and a half last all evening.
The beer pours a deep and delectable mahogany with a ruby glint in the light, and the aroma is filled with damsons and plums and greengages, leaving a hint of old English green fruit pulp hidden away like a lovely pithy treasure.
All the classic porter flavours are in attendance, form the stewed fruit to the leaf mulch woodland dampness, the mouthful of mashed apples and pears, and the spiky pepper richness.
But this is a porter with a hairy chest and big guns.
It ripples with flavour, a shaven headed London wide boy of a beer.
Big and cheeky and very sure of itself, it tosses you a final present of dry hoppy floral goodness before leaving you tired but very happy.
Light and bright and bubbly and fresh, this little bottle of lager is an absolute delight.
All the flavours here are large but blended together with a wonderful lightness of touch.
There’s a real hit of spices and fresh herbs going on here with coriander leaf freshness and a burst of mace, along with a good glug of thick, ripe fruit pulp.
The hops help push the flavours as they develop and build while you down the glass, filling your mouth with a delicious and surprisingly bitter green hazelnut and hedgerow dryness.
This is a sharp little pilsner that’s just the perfect size for a quick lunchtime drink.
Chocolate Porter (6.5%)
This beer smells like a bar of Cadbury’s.
It really does, and it made me have an accident.
In trying to smell this beer I’ve accidentally snorted some and I can report that it’s like pushing a bar of chocolate up your nose.
This is all chocolate.
Unfortunately that’s to the chagrin of all the other things you might want from a porter.
The malted fruit flavours fight for air, the hops struggle to leave a lasting mark while the chocolate becomes bitter and ultimately cloying, and personally it becomes a novelty rather than a beer.
A beer for beginners maybe? (strike me down for saying such things!).
Not Meantime’s best.
London Pale Ale (4.3%)
So tell me this if you can.
Meantime rebrand with beautifully sleek bottles and shiny labelling and then, within a few months, put out two new beers in completely different packaging.
Maybe it’s a cost thing.
Call me an obsessive geek but I like progression through branding and I like collections of things to look or at least feel the same.
This Pale Ale is pretty good actually.
It’s light and clean and easy to drink.
The beer sits in your glass looking a very summery orange with the merest hint of a head.
The odours are fruity with burned sugars at the edges.
On taking a sip the overwhelming flavour is floral.
Parma violets and candied peel floral.
This is tempered by the caramel in the malting but it’s never quite beaten back and becomes quite overpowering.
Hidden away in the back of this beer are some fine spices and a handful of green herby leaves, all of which are delightful, but they have to really fight for attention against that English garden bouquet that marches on empirically across your taste buds.
London Pale Ale?
Almost Victorian in its conquering of your palate I’d say.
London Stout (4.5%)
Pouring absolutely black as pitch, this is a terrific stout.
You are given a delicious looking cappuccino coloured head, but it quickly dissipates, leaving an espresso crema ring around your glass.
This beer smells of liquorice and wood smoke and a big bowl of cherries.
Sounds good, right?
This it looks good and it smells good.
Then you take a big swig and the flavours are complex, but beautifully balanced, beginning with a heap of dark bitter chocolate that would be too much except that at just the right moment you are given a juicy rich mouthful of forest fruits stewed in port.
You take a moment to let this all soak in and just as it dissipates there’s a wonderful swipe of smokey dry autumnal crunchy leaf hops that quickly soak everything up, leaving your mouth dry and gently pushing you to your next mouthful.
London Lager (4.5%)
This is a pretty decent English lager, the bright crystallised sugar caramel of the malt is very nice indeed and the aroma is all about breezy summer fields and picnics in between showers.
The hopping is zingy and crisp, and there’s a decent peppery finish.
But there’s something lacking.
Perhaps this beer’s a little flat.
I like a lager to smack me in the chops with its chilled fizz, and you don’t get that here.
I have to admit though that that is a very small gripe and I’ll happily pack a brace of these for my family outings this summer.
NOTE: There is also a Wheat Beer and a Raspberry Wheat Beer in the core range, but as I like neither of these styles I haven’t reviewed them as I wouldn’t be able to offer anything even mildly objective.