I made the tour but missed the food - though luckily due to a few people being absent we got our tour given by the very knowledgeable Dave Phillips.
The tour starts in the reception and a quick history of the brewery is given. This began with the explanation that the brewery was started by a farmer purchasing the Crowe Brewery in 1880. Unfortunately only a couple of sentences' reference was given to the famous 'Mr. George', the buy-out in 1987 and the subsequent formulation of the 'Victory Ale'. (I would highly recommend watching Michael Jackson's The Beer Hunter to get a real sense of the romance of this tale.) Further information on the complete history is in the links below.
First stop was the Maris Otter and the malted barley. We were brought straight upstairs to the malt stores. The germination and roasting process was explained, this is where my lads got involved - they got to pass around the barley at different stages of roasting - I was pleasantly surprised with the level of detail the tour was taking!
Having previously told us about Bateman's of Wainfleet, James Keane was back in England this summer and took the Meet the Brewer tour at the Old Brewery premises of the Meantime Brewery in Greenwich, London.
We arrived to Greenwich and we had a look around the Old Brewery bar and restaurant. The premises are shared with a historical centre. We arrived a little early and took a good look around. Our initial impression was that no brewing was taking place here at all and that this was a flagship bar used for publicity and marketing. Happily we were soon proved wrong!
My second suggested weekend destination for the beer lover is the city of Amsterdam. This might seem a strange choice to some, but despite all the publicity regarding the drug and sex trade, Amsterdam is a beautiful city and has plenty of great pubs and great beer. It also features a host of non-beer attractions to help work up a thirst, such as the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh museum, Anne Frank house, Rembrandtshuis, not to mention the beautiful 18th century architecture along the canals. I have been to Amsterdam five times, and on the first occasion I will admit that I found it difficult to find a pub that didn’t only offer Heineken or Amstel. The real pubs are often stuck down some alleyway! Do some research beforehand, and be prepared to seek out these pubs. They are well worth the effort.
I spent a recent long weekend on a visit to Munich. The following is not by any means a “Beer Guide to Munich” because we simply did not have enough time available to us to visit all the best places. But we did manage a number of brews in several excellent venues.
When one shops at Munich’s Marienplatz Christmas Market, it doesn’t take long to generate a thirst. Our first stop for beer was Der Pschorr, a fine recently renovated place just at Viktualienmarkt. This was an ideal oasis located close to the main centre of activity. It has high vaulted ceilings (as nearly all Bavarian bierhallen seem to have), but has quite a modern feel to it. And so, my first ever beer on German soil was a Hacker Pschorr Dunkel, quite a pleasant brew in a pleasant location.
I know what you're thinking: this is not a city for lovers of beer, and in some respects you'd be correct. You won't find any cask ale here and for the most part the beer on offer is very bland and very cold, but happily the beer consumed in Barcelona, particularly in the heat of an August afternoon hits the spot nicely. You hardly find yourself drinking for gastronomic reasons, more as a means to stay alive, lest thirst and heatstroke kill you. Perhaps I'm being a little melodramatic, but ice cold beer in these conditions really does offer a revival to a body past its thermal comfort zone.