Black Vanilla @ The Meantime Brewing Company

Life can be so difficult sometimes – take this week for example, when I was asked to join in with a brewery tour at the Meantime Brewing Company in North Greenwich hosted by another Greenwich-based company, Black Vanilla. It was such a difficult decision…

I’ve visited the folks at Meantime before, so I won’t recount what their brewery tour entails all over again, but I will share my thoughts on a few of their products that I had the opportunity to sample for the first time. Once again hosted by their tour guide Big Al (who remembered me from January – a bit scary!),  I tried their raspberry wheat beer, which is an interesting concoction that has the sweetness of a wheat beer overlaid with a slightly tart flavour. Interesting. We also had an opportunity to sample the chocolate porter, which I suspect will become a favourite of mine. It’s not as cloying or heavy as a Guinness, for example, but does have something of the treacle qualities of German shwarzbiers, which you get in the east of the country – of course there was lots of chocolate in the nose and in the taste as well!

We also got to try two of the short-run speciality beers which the brewers make in very small batches of 1000 bottles over at their old premises in Greenwich’s Penhall Road. Each one a personal pet project and a bit of an experiment, they’re different every time. The first beer that we tried was an IPA (an Indian Pale Ale) made with hops from both sides of the Atlantic – I regret to say it but it wasn’t really to my taste, in fact I thought it tasted awful! The one that was very much to my taste I can tell you very little about because they haven’t released it yet – what I can tell you is that it uses a Japanese hop and has the most unexpected taste you could possibly imagine in a beer, yet it still only uses the basic ingredients of barley, hops, water and yeast.

Black Vanilla, our hosts for the evening, have their own HQ at the other end of Greenwich, just around the corner from the Cutty Sark. They specialise in gelatos and sorbettos concocted by their tame Italian chefs, and you can also visit them at their other premises in hip Blackheath.  For our evening at the brewery they has married some of Meantime’s beers with their own frozen delights, making a raspberry wheat beer sorbetto and a chocolate gelato, where they used the porter as one of the ingredients in the chocolate sauce. I have to say that I think they make some very more-ish products, and I have a particular soft spot for gelato (it reminds me of an early holiday I had away from the family in Rimini) so they certainly get the thumbs up from me.

Meantime organise regularly brewery tours, which you can find out about here. You can also check out Black Vanilla’s website for more information, and of course follow them both on Twitter – the Meantime Brewing Company here, and Black Vanilla here.