How tech makes your beer taste great: Meantime Brewery reveals all
Meantime beer, brewed in Greenwich London, is one of the most intricately made beers in the world with such attention to detail that the result is near perfection in a glass. But how do you make the perfect craft beer? Two things: knowledge and technology.
The Meantime Brewery was founded back in the days of the Y2K bug, bang on the year 2000. Potential viruses didn't deter brewmaster Alastair Hook. After spending years training to brew at the Technical University of Munich, he was determined to bring all his knowledge to England to create a craft brewery.
A craft brewery is defined as one that produces a limited amount of beer. Definitions vary from place to place and now with even Weatherspoons stocking "craft", the term is starting to lose its meaning. But when it comes to Meantime, stock is limited and only distributed in London - keeping focus on quality not quantity.
The main philosophy of the brewery is to embrace technology and give the beer the time it needs to ferment, usually taking about six weeks.
Water is a key ingredient in beer that often gets overlooked. Beers are regional with ales traditionally up north, where the water is hard, and porters traditionally in the south, where water is soft. Meantime, knowing this, uses machines to process water so that it has the same regional qualities as that used traditionally to make beer it's being used with.
So for Meantime's famous Chocolate Porter the London water is ideal, but when making the Meantime India Pale Ale it is treated first for the specific reaction to the other ingredients. This leads to the desired taste and, through this mastery with technology, isn't subject to local changes in water.
Meantime's attention to detail is another reason its beer tastes great. You'll notice it only uses brown bottles to hold its beers. The reason for avoiding clear or green glass is that the darker glass offers greater protection from the light meaning the beer stays as it was intended to taste right up to the point it's opened.
In the case of its special bigger beers a cork is used. This offers another layer of protection to the beer meaning that the seal is completely air tight and even the pressure remains constant. It's like stopping the beer in time so when a person opens the bottle and pours, it's near to pouring it directly from the lines in the brewery.
Even the kegs are smarter than most. Meantime uses rubber kegs with slightly smaller capacity that traditional kegs. The rubber protects the beer from being knocked about too much while the smaller capacity allows for the perfect pressure.
Time is the most important part of the Meantime brewing process. One of the things this affords the beer is natural bubbles. The result, in theory, is little to no hangover.
Hangovers are largely caused by dehydration and the release of acids in the carbonating process. Carbonated beers, which are made in a few days, are flash boiled which kills natural bubbles and means they need to be artificially carbonated. This means the beer is super safe so big companies don't need to worry about the beer going off. Meantime beer uses the natural bubbles and stringent brewing to ensure the beer is safe and doesn't have the acid.
Next time you drink a mass produced beer try holding it in your mouth for ten seconds and notice the bubble burn. You don't get that, or as bad a hangover, with Meantime.
Alastair Hook explains the brewery's broad range: "Meantime use 10 different malts; up to 10 different yeast strains in any calendar year; 12 plus varieties of hop, and on top of that water from our own reverse osmosis plant, treated and blended to give unique and authentic beer characteristics."
"On top of that a variety of herbs, spices and fruits all fit in to the Meantime production matrix. Not only do we produce more beer styles than any other brewery in the UK, we have more packaging formats than most too. We don't just put beer into bottles, kegs and casks, we even oak age in wooden barrels. All of which means that in agreeing to automate our processes both firms have embraced a challenge that will tax their expertise to the full."
Meantime Brewery, based in Greenwich, does regular tours that anyone can take part in. You get to taste the beers, learn more about the history of brewing and see all the kit up close. Visit the link below to give it a try. It makes for a great stag do - we've been there on two already.