Thursday 1 August 2013

I'm-a Drinkin' In A Box...

Meantime has been spending a Sunday each month in trendy Shoreditch, spinning choons and aiming to entice the Hipsters with some of their limited-batch beers. The venue for this is the Boxpark, a pop-up retail experience constructed from shipping containers and scaffolding. Here, global brands like Nike sit side by side with local start-ups and street food outlets. On Bethnal Green Road, vintage cars cruise up and down, although the Hipsterati wouldn't be seen admiring them. Meantime are doing six summer Sundays here, under the guise of #hopsatthebox.

It would appear an unlikely setting for one of London's more conservative craft brewers, but is part of an effort to put their beers in front of what is an increasingly important demographic for craft beer in London. Earlier in July, Meantime launched their latest seasonal Pale Ale (Pacific) at something called Frank's Cafe, atop a multi-storey car park in Peckham. I was due to go, but got my dates mixed up, and anyway, an online search of the place revealed this whole 'cafe' thing is a bit ironic (what else?), with not a bacon or sausage sandwich to be found on the menu.

I'd been invited to the previous two Boxpark events, but hadn't been able to get along. What persuaded me this time was the beer. Called Fool's Gold, a pilsner brewed in 'collaboration' with a listings magazine on the small Old Brewery plant, this had been single-hopped with Citra. I'd not had a lager with Citra before, so wanted to check it out. It's also my view that Meantime's most recent seasonal lagers have knocked the socks off their ales. Tandleman recounts his recent taste of the Friesian Pilsner here. While the Pale Ales are solid enough, I prefer a bigger hop character, and a lager hopped with something as distinctive as Citra needed to be tasted.

Alex Morgan. A Geezer
So I did, in the company of memorable Meantime Beer Sommelier Alex Morgan, a real character who I'd met a few weeks earlier at one of Meantime's beer dinners. All wide boy patter and a real and infectious enthusiasm for beer and food, he was working his socks off getting tasters of the beer into the hands of passers-by. In one of those moments of synchronicity you find around beer, he introduced me to a young American couple on their first trip to London. Turns out they were from Berkeley, in the East Bay, an area I've visited a couple of times now. They were visiting London for four days and were hitting as many beer venues as they could. Admirable.

So. The beer. It poured a delicate pale gold and, being quite chilled, didn't show much of the distinctive Citra character at first, but as it warmed a little some of the cattiness started to show. Berry fruits were in evidence, too. The hop wasn't overwhelming, rather it made this a flavourful and easy-drinking beer. I had several, and every one was refreshing and went down nicely, without any gassiness or bloated feeling. And it's named after a Stone Roses song, so what's not to love?

Meantime are a funny brewery. Their regular beers are well-made but can seem a bit unexciting. I'll happily drink their wheat beer if I can find it fresh. As I said, their recent lager styles have been excellent, but who'll be able to drink them? I'm off to this weekend's beer fest at The Old Brewery, and I'm hoping that there'll be some Fool's Gold left.

Disclaimer: Boggle paid for all of his beer at #hopsatthebox and bought his own ticket for the fest at The Old Brewery.