Thursday, 25 June 2009

Meantime Goes Cask


After nearly 10 years of focusing on brewery conditioned and bottled beers, London based Meantime Brewing have finally taken the plunge and entered the cask ale market. London Pale Ale, 4.3%, (rated one of the ‘World’s 50 Best Beers’ at the 2007 International Beer Challenge), is the first Meantime beer to be continuously available in cask fashion. Being Meantime, however, this is not a straightforward cask ale. The essence of the Meantime philosophy is the belief that maturation is the key to quality. Consequently, all Meantime beers are always subject to at least 28 days brewery conditioning. So, unlike most cask ales, which are young beers by historic brewing standards, London Pale Ale is fully matured before it is racked. It is then re-conditioned in cask.

Elaborating on Meantime’s decision to enter the cask market Alastair Hook the brewer said;
“A number of changes in the market have shown us that the time is now right for Meantime to add cask to its portfolio. Until recently there was very little free trade in London, this is changing. SIBA Direct Delivery Service, the changing attitudes of pub companies, plus the sale of pubs are all helping by bringing a broader range of beers to the consumer. In addition Youngs’ shameful abandonment of London and Londoners has created a space for beers with genuine London provenance.

I make no excuses for using large chunks of the press release here, but one or two interesting points emerge. One is the "go" at Youngs' which is pretty direct and the other is the point that some of us have been saying for years, that until recently there was very little free trade in London. I reckon Meantime could be on a winner here. Their beers have quality and they have judged that to appeal to Londoner's to support a local brewery is a winning marketing strategy.

In a capital city that is waking up slowly to the potential of quality and choice in beer, they are hopefully right. I look forward to seeing how it pans out.

18 comments:

Tyson said...

I agree-this is very good news for London drinkers. Dunno why they chose to have a go at Youngs, though.

Dubbel said...

This is great news. They've been stocking one rotating cask beer at their Greenwich Union outlet for some time now (the IPA is fantastic in this form) and I look forward to seeing their cask stuff in more freeholds across London.

I also think the dig at Youngs is fair cop. They are no longer a London brewer but their pub estate is littered across the capital only stocking [what I always find to be] dull dull dull beer. I've never been a fan.

Tyson said...

I'm not disagreeing with the statement about Youngs, just thought it's odd to mention it. It's not like they are rivals.

knutalbert said...

Since Young's retarded into a pub company that mostly sells Bombardier and pale lagers, they are fair game!

Mark said...

I had the LPA at the Greenwich Union and thought it was a fantastic cask beer. Their IPA is also excellent from the cask.

For the American beer festival at the White Horse they've got their London Porter aged in whisky barrels and I would've thought that will be cask too.

It's a great move!

Tim said...

Is it just me or does starting to package in cask fall into similar lines as buying a new black and white television?
Keg technology is newer and superior to cask - embrace the future

beermerchants said...

Having a pop at Youngs is easy, even easier as a target, that more than one brewery is doing at the moment, I would wonder even if they give a S'. Getting your beer out there, served in a right and proper fashion is way more difficult, whether it comes from a keg faucet or a cask tap, or even bottle.

I for one think that Meantime are doing interesting things... I wait to see how it pans out.

I have a soft spot for their, what used to be, organic pils, doubt I'd want to try that out of a cask?! But the IPA is pretty good out of a cask. I kinda wish they go back to that really hoppy finish that they got in the big bottle IPA.

Tandleman said...

Tim.

A glib answer would be that while the technology may be superior, the end product may not be, but I dare say others might have a view.

Jeff Frane said...

I can buy bread at the store that is entirely made by machine. Heck, I can buy a "bread machine" and do it at home. So why would I bother going to a real bakery for a loaf, or going to all the bother of spending a week developing a starter and hours/days getting the dough ready?

Because it's better!

Dave25 said...

Excellent news. I got to try cask Meantime London Pale Ale at Stonchffrey's pub a few weeks back, and very nice it was too.

John Clarke said...

Excellent news - and one in the eye for the "keg is king" brigade too! (I see Tim's already been whining - but what do we care as he's buggering off back to Australia) - I guess the others won't be far behind (including the entertainingly demented Sausage who appears to have you in his sights again).

john said...

The changing attitudes of pub companies thats a laugh.Wait till he tries to sell them beer they still buy the cheapest beer they can find.Meantime has quality beers but at a price and in the free trade they will be competing with Youngs who sell beer very cheaply


cheers john

Paul Garrard said...

I could never understand Meantime's avoidance of cask. I’m glad they’ve seen the light.

Woolpack Dave said...

Which is better, cask or keg? I've had good cask and I've had good keg. I've also had crap versions of both. Either can out shine the other in the right situation.

I like to concentrate on the entertainment value of the contravertial Sausage, it's safer that way.

(Sitting on the fence in the Lake District is painful. They all generally have barbed wire on top.)

Erlangernick said...

ObRandomDriveByLees-RelatedPost:

Had a beer with a trio who are originally from Cambridge yesterday. (Actually a trio of beers, but no matter.)

They admitted that Lees is indeed at least drinkable. They hadn't heard of Phoenix though. And TTLandlord is tops!

Bailey said...

This is good news. Meantime might have the branding of a big company, and that juicy Sainsbury's contract, but they're still a fairly small, young company, and it's right that they've not rushed into this.

I still enjoy Young's Bitter, though!

Leigh said...

am in london next month, will be trying to seek this out for sure...good news!

Boak said...

I reckon they've avoided cask for a couple of reasons (1) it's just not part of their marketing strategy (2) they see it as part of their strategy to maintain consistency of quality. i.e. they know that it only take a few bad barrels of beer to destroy their carefully-built up reputation for quality.

That said, I don't think the keg only thing worked - I've had some truly dreadful offerings from Meantime in other pubs. If it's old and stale, keg ain't gonna help.