Saturday, 8 June 2013

Meantime Friesian Pilsener

Meantime started brewing in 2000 making them one of the oldest of the ‘new wave’ of London breweries. Meantime are also the second largest independent London brewery (after Fullers). I remember quite well their appearance on the drinking scene as it roughly coincided with our move to the London Bridge area, and we've always enjoyed their beers. We were pleased to have been invited to the launch of a limited edition Friesian Pilsner with brewer Rod Jones.

Rod is very knowledgeable and passionate about beer, and stressed that the emphasis of Meantime is on the flavour of the beer, and they focus on high quality raw ingredients, maturation, and do not pasteurise their beers. He obviously feels very strongly about the opinion (of some) that Meantime have ‘sold out’ – he pointed out that just because production has increased it doesn't mean that the quality of the beer will decrease, and that the key to keeping the quality of the beer consistent is that it is still the brewers running Meantime (not the accountants). They are fussy about their beer and the brewing process and therefore the quality of the beer hasn’t suffered. I tend to agree, and this event was a refreshing reminder of some of the beers they do best.

Meantime have 9 beers in their standard range and then brew a limited edition seasonal special every two months. They also have a microbrewery where they get to experiment with some of their wackier recipes. It is very interesting to hear that Meantime buy some of their hops three years in advance to ensure they get some of the more popular varieties they need.

So onto the beer. The limited edition Friesian Pilsener is brewed in a North German style – these tending to be lighter in colour, hoppier and more bitter then the Southern German pilsners. It’s been made with 100% pilsner malt, and they use Perle hops at the start (for bitterness) then Tettnang in the boil and at the end, using German brewing techniques. The maturation (or lagering) of this beer is 5 to 6 weeks.

This beer really delivers on flavour, which creeps up on you before you realise. At first it is refreshing, but hoppier than you’d normally expect from a pilsner, with a crisp bitterness and a complex finish. Rod describes it as a session beer, balanced, dry and drinkable – simple, but that’s what makes it such a popular style of beer. The hops grow as you get further down the glass, starting subtle and then get more intense the more you drink. It paired well with most of the food we tasted, and especially well with the cheese which was a surprise. 

It was very interesting to experience this classic style of lager with Rod, who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of brewing and its history. Just don't talk to him about hip hop.

This seasonal brew will be on sale at the Greenwich Union and The Old Brewery for a limited period.


Bryan the Beerviking said...

They did this one as a seasonal in 2010 and again last June, presumably it did well enough then to come become an annual! The model for this one is Jever, or rather Jever as it used to be before Oetker allegedly dumbed it down a bit...

Sam said...

And it's so good I think it should replace their normal lager in the standard range.