On Saturday 24th May (gosh, was it really that long ago now?) we popped down to Greenwich for Meantime’s Brewfest 2014. I was pretty excited because a) I love Meantime and b) we went last year and it was excellent. However, I was already a little annoyed before going due to the sharp increase in price. Last year it was £12 for a pint glass, 6 beer tokens AND food. This time? £20! And no food! To be fair I did think it was a very good deal last year; maybe they just couldn’t justify such a low price again? Still, put £8 on and take away my sausage? You’ve got an unhappy Charlie right there.
Meantime are a strange bunch, aren’t they? They’re craft, but they’re well established. When you look at them in comparison to other craft breweries they’ve managed to do what many haven’t (or don’t want to): bridge the divide between craft and mainstream. For me, I know that anything I try by them is going to be high in quality, even if it’s a style I’m not keen on such as their smoked porter. I mentioned to my Drinking Buddy that I think Meantime can often be neglected by beer bloggers and he gave me an analogy that I really liked: ‘Meantime are like the Metallica of the craft beer world. They’ve influenced other bands and they’re a mark of quality, but you don’t have to talk about them to know that they’re there’.
As always, the level of customer service we received at these bars was excellent. I was a little bit disappointed at the level of beer knowledge from some of the staff although I imagine they’re just event staff so that’s probably a bit harsh. There was also an awful lot we wanted to try that wasn’t actually available yet and never became available despite us being there for several hours!
I know it sounds like I’m complaining a lot (and, er, I am), but the general organisation was very good as was the food (although £5.50 for a hot dog?! Scream!) and we tried some really great beers. Which reminds me, I should really talk about some of them shouldn’t I?
Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Ale (5.3%)
My first reaction to this was that this was incredibly sweet. Then again, when something promises you the flavours of chocolate, peanut butter and banana you’re expecting sweet! All of those aromas certainly come through, but…not in a good way. It’s sickeningly sweet and it all tastes incredibly artificial. Not for me, which is a shame because I’ve got a lot of time for Rogue.Still, I shouldn’t have started with a novelty beer.
Meantime Jasmine Pale Ale (5%)
I was really looking forward to some of the Meantime specials, but didn’t get to try the Cucumber Ale- if anyone did, let me know what it’s like! I thought I’d start with the Jasmine Pale Ale which was delicately floral on the nose. This led into a very light bodied, fresh beer with a hint of jasmine to the taste, almost like tea. My Drinking Buddy hated this, but I thought it was beautifully balanced and perfect for the summer. Marmite!
Siren Craft Brew White IPA (4.7%)
No photo, but here’s a nice picture of me and my tiny tiny beer. I love me a white IPA. Love love love. So I was expecting to love this. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. Golden yellow, the aroma was of fresh tropical fruits and cream. For the lowish ABV I was surprised at how creamy this tasted actually, but despite that creaminess it was still crisp and refreshing. There were more tropical fruits packing a punch in the taste and it all ended with a pleasantly dry finish. Yum.
Overall I’m quite conflicted about my experience this year. I have really high expectations of Meantime so perhaps I’m giving them a harder time? Still, I’ll be back next year (with wellies on!)