Meantime London Stout: An old fashioned stout

Meantime London Stout

Meantime London Stout

I had to try this beer tonight. Tomorrow night is bottling the home brew night (all being well), which means I’ll be too busy that night for proper sampling. And Friday night I’m jumping in my car, a small number of bottles of Meantime London Stout in my boot, and heading straight off to a stag do. In Shropshire. On a barge.

Part of the stag do will be a beer tasting, where the eight of us each bring a beer to test, rate and, inevitably, make us a bit merry. I opted for this London Stout because I thought it would be a) good and b) interesting. I decided though that I must try a bottle first just incase it’s crap.

Of course, it’s not crap. Head brewer Alastair Hook won the Best Brewer award from the British Guild of Beer Writers in 2008. That means that people who know and write a lot a beer think his beers are good. They’re hardly likely to be wrong. In fact, I know from past experience that Meantime is very good.

So, yes, Meantime London Stout. Yes. London Stout. Because there was stout before Guinness. And that stout came from the UK, and of course because London is the bloody capital and therefore home to bloody everything that’s bloody good, it was in London where most of the brewing went on.

This beer is made using the original recipe for stout. With just malt and no barley, unlike most stouts these day, which mix the two.  Meantime (so called before they’re based in Greenwich) claim that the use of malt gives it “a more velvet mouthfeel and greater vanilla notes than Irish alternatives”.

Velvety sure is right. It tastes rich, creamy, almost soft it the mouth, with a substantial, almost sooty bitterness (that makes it sound horrible, I know, but it’s great, trust me) and even a hint of roasted nuts – hey, it’s Christmas. It’s rich, ballsy and gentle too. It’s got a lot more about it than the 4.5% abv would have you believe. Plus, it goes very nicely indeed with this slice of coffee cake I’m munching on.

Unless anyone brings something really rich and fiery, I’d imagine we’ll be saving this for the final tasting (good luck tasting a light summer ale after this one). I just hope my fellow stags appreciate the all-enveloping smoothness. If not, I know someone who can finish their bottles off!

I’ve still got a bottle of Meantime’s London Porter in the cellar. I’ll be comparing these two when I break that one out.

Click here for more Meantime

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Meantime IPA

 

Meantime IPA

Meantime IPA

It’s become a habit of mine to wander over to the beer isle in every supermarket I visit. Why? Well because as much as I love going to wonderful little beer shops and great independent bars, it’s a sad fact of life that supermarkets are really, really cheap. Yes, they may not give the supplier a good deal, and yes, they are responsible for small independent traders struggling. But sometimes I just can’t afford to pay full whack for quality beer, so I have to swallow that feeling of guilt and go ahead and buy.

 

I’m telling you this, because on a recent visit to Sainsbury’s, I chanced across a deal on 750ml bottles on Meantime IP and Meantime London Porter. Two for £7. A bargain. So I bought them.

The back of the bottle of IPA said “enjoy with hot food and spicy friends, or vice versa”, so as my girlfriend and I got making a lovely butternut squash curry, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to break out the IPA. So I did.

A quick not on IPAs. If you buy, say, Green King IPA, or Deuchars, as nice as they can be, they’re not real traditional IPAs. Real IPAs were strong (this one clocks in at a respectable 7.5%) and full of hops. Why? Well because these India Pale Ales were, as the name suggests, going to India. The strong alcohol content and oodles of hops meant it had more chance of staying preserved on the long journey to our colonialist countrymen.

Now, most IPAs are drunk in England, so there is no need for all the extra stuff, but good brewers (and Meantime is a good brewer, they won the 2008 British Guild of Beer Writers Brewer of the year, so it’s official) still make proper IPAs because they’re just really, really good and that.

This one’s a treat. It smells of cloves, cardamon and banana, it pours a deep golden, almost copper colour. Like any beer worth its salt though, the taste is the real joy. The hops hit you full in the face, but not too strong, more like a sobering slap than a knockout punch (if you want a knockout punch try Brewdog’s Punk IPA).

The uncompromising hops are bitter, dry and refreshing – what you’d want in India, I guess – and underneath, those spicy, fruity flavours linger on, a treat after the initial attack. And then the finish is smooth and oakey.  You could almost believe it has spent the last few months in a barrel in the middle of the ocean.

And as for that butternut squash curry, that was a delight too, and the dry hops and spicy cardamon flavours worked a treat with it. I’ll be doing that again.

Read about Meantime here