Real Ale Reviews Independent reviewers of real ales, beers and lagers from around the world, including beer reviews, breweries, watering holes and real ale events
    Sebright Arms / Lucky Chip

    Sebright Arms / Lucky Chip

    The bar is busy. The tables are full. The backroom is heaving and buoyant. Welcome to the Sebright Arms, dimly light and vivacious. We arrive from Soho at the fading of a sun drenched afternoon - four pubs, six pints, four hours. Three and a half miles later, bellies demanding meat and bread and barley, we bundle over the threshold. A table is found, pale beers ordered, burger menus devoured by hungry eyes. It's a young crowd, an old ...

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    A King and a Prince

    A Prince Amongst Beers

    It's not every day that you get the chance to try a beer that's older than you are. Last Saturday night I opened a bottle that was just that; I opened a beer that was older than me, so that’s over twenty five, give or take the odd ten years. In fact it was a lot older than me, more than twice my age. It was brewed in 1929 in fact, so that’s 83 years old. A mate ...

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    Build A Rocket Boys!

    Build A Rocket Boys! by Elbow & Robinsons

    Elbow are the kings of soaring melancholy, masters of poetic northern introspection.  Let Elbow's albums flow over you and you can be mesmerised by their beauty alone. Put in the time to listen, to soak up the poignancy, the humour, the extraordinary manifestations of the ordinary and their albums become life affirming tributes to the everyday. Conversely, it's quite easy to stick an Elbow album on and realise thirty lethargic minutes later that time - and ...

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    Man shed!

    Readers Pubs

    At the first pub there's a piano in the window but no one to play it. The seats are filled with ghosts. A long pew is adorned with individually wrapped cushions, resembling a bum-friendly box of Mr Kipling cakes. It's quiet, the fireplace glows warm and friendly, everything is cosy and snug. Welcome to Pete's Retreat. "We'll be at home here, let's get a pint." Much as we could stay forever we've a long crawl ahead ...

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    De Struise Pannepot 2008

    Pannepot 2008

    Broody and brown, like blood-red soil on a wet day, four-year aged Pannepot is dragged out of the beer cupboard and into a glass like Jack Dee to an in-laws barbecue... It simply doesn't want to open (the journey back from Belgium wasn't kind: a contemporary shot it's load in the suitcase, drenching the stash of bottles and it's still sticky and downtrodden) but eventually, after much gushing and fizzing, it acquiesces. Perhaps it's just the toll of ...

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    John Keeling Fullers

    Desert Island Beers #50: John Keeling - Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC

    It's a special week on the desert island as we celebrate a half century of castaways being swept up onto our shores. Robinson Crusoe # 50 is a real coup for us as it features none other than Sir (it’s only a matter of time) John Keeling; Head Brewer at Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC, (better known simply as Fullers). John was born in Droylsden, Manchester, in September 1956. When he left school without telling his ...

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    Will Hawkes

    Desert Island Beers #38: Will Hawkes, The Independent

    Welcome to the latest episode of Desert Island Beers which this week features Will Hawkes who works on The Independent’s sports desk and writes about beer in his spare time. Born in London and brought up in sunny Kent, he has had an interest in ale since he could convince a barman he was 18 – but his real conversion to good beer came after a year spent living in Southern California in 1999-2000, when the ...

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    Marston's Fever Pitch English Bitter

    Marston's Fever Pitch

    First off I should point out that I don't often take kindly to products and advertising that jump on the football bandwagon. The best footy related marketing is the football advertising by Nike and Carlsberg (ignoring their most recent attempts). So, I'm potentially a little biased against Marston's Fever Pitch... Let's start with the positives: oranges, lemons, citrus peel but not zest. It's more interesting than I expected, more summery. A mellow bitterness that isn't displeasing and ...

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    Englischer Garten

    Drunken in Munchen

    Let's be frank, I'm not brilliant at getting drunk. It's not that I'm a bad drunk per se, but since my uni days my tolerance has faded and I'm much better suited to a lazy pub garden or the frantic but well partitioned boozing of a hot festival day. So, the morning after the night before, eating pizza along the tramlines of Munich, Stag Day 2 of 3, the first beer is an inevitable mistake. The 12 ...

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    Lowlands Bier Festival

    Beer From The Low Country

    The smell of beer slopped on wooden tables, the glint of light in the top of the chalice, the sounds of a deck of cards and the clink of glasses. I'm in a bar in the north country but my senses are across the sea and howling winds, in the bustle of a backstreet bar in Belgium. Four pm on a sunny Friday, sampling the beers of the Low Countries in a bar in Leeds, dreaming of ...

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    BrewDog Blitz 2.8% ABV

    Brewdog Nottingham

    The blue logo can be seen for hundreds of yards. The windows that look out onto Hockley's student-filled streets, opposite a tea room, cinema and acclaimed bistro, are plastered with huge crest shaped decals, archetypal generation Nike branding for a Starbuck's influenced post-modern brand experience. B R E W D O G Reminiscent of the type of industrial themed sandwich shop found in downtown Prague or New York's Soho, but with added chutzpah and a munificence for ...

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    Shibden Valley by Tim Green

    Shibden Mill Inn

    Down a winding single lane road the descent to Shibden Mill Inn is not one to be taken with nonchalance. A careless clutch foot could result in an unexpected round of automobile tobogganing, even without the help of rain, ice or snow. But survive the swooning approach and there sits a fine pub to be snowed in at: good beer, warm hearths and food fit for kings. The pub is infected with sunny Sunday smiles. Gregarious family ...

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    Packhorse bridge and Old Bridge Inn Ripponden

    A bridge in time

    A brisk day in March, wet but without rain. Ducking through the dripping steel railway bridge, carving through residual puddles, Sowerby Bridge seems jack-knifed between the twenty first century and the 1970s. It's partly the lack of ubiquitous chain stores, partly the dubious puns of the shabby independent shops, but mostly the hues of a downtrodden day in a small Yorkshire town. Out the other side of the town the road befriends the trajectory of the ...

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    Hopback Summer Lightning: a bit of a legend in Beerland

    Hopback Summer Lightning

    Some beers have a pedestal. Sometimes it's deserved because they are truly great beers, technically and taste-wise. Some are headliners, built by a cheeky PR campaign or an elaborate story. And some are deserved winners of awards and a place within beery folklore. Summer Lightning by Hopback falls in the latter category. Back when I was enjoying my third year on this planet and coming to terms with the fact I would soon have a baby ...

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    January 31st, 2013FletchtheMonkeyLagers

    A cyclist eases along the uncluttered embankment; a couple stand contentedly at the waters edge peering towards their future; a couple of suits stroll happily in the yellowing evening light towards an ice cream van sat under the shade of a riverside tree.

    So is printed the scene on every bottle of Meantime London Lager. I imagine the inky outlines slowly awakening into a perfect city portrait, rustling and rising to the cafes and bars for a peaceful drink.

    The reality is more likely to be Boris bikes avoiding brisk paced briefcases and couples cringing into cameras, tensed outstretched arms aiming backwards to frame faces in front of famous skylines; seagulls, crisp packets and gust-strewn hair swirl and swoosh in an orchestrated effort to ruin the shot.

    Luckily I can gaze at the winning shot hanging on the wall whilst sipping a brisk and fizzy lager, reminiscing on our recent trip to the capital (the winner was the best of a bad bunch). The creamy body, cornflake flavours and subtle lemony scent are a picture perfect beer, a long way from the stereotypical lager of crummy pubs and industrial processes. Even the bitterness feels calm and natural, light and transient like the crunch of celery.

    The London Eye creeps skywards over the serene label edge. The only way to enjoy this surreal version of the city is to jump aboard; and with that I grab another bottle of this seductively crafted (and marketed) beer.


    A Meantime Picture of London

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    January 25th, 2013DavidMayhallDesert Island Beers

    Back in September ’12 we started a ‘Kiwi & Oz’ series on Desert Island Beers saying these were exciting times for New Zealand and Australian brewers, with both countries experiencing major growth in “craft” beer sales and the number of “craft” breweries. With this major growth as background we will have featured nearly twenty of our Kiwi & Australian brewing and blogging cousins when the series finishes in the next few weeks.

    There is however a similar story closer to home as one of the great things about being a beer drinker in London at the moment is the vibrancy of its beer and brewing scene. We have therefore planned our next series of castaways on Old London Town.

    London, from Greenwich

    The growth in London breweries in recent times has been nothing short of amazing. When in 2011 Des de Moor published his excellent guide, London Brewers and Beers he reckoned there were thirteen operating breweries, an increase from the eight that remained after Young’s left Wandsworth in 2006. He now reckons there are thirty six breweries operating in London, including ten brewpubs, with at least a further eleven under development, including three brewpubs. And with some of these projects well advanced its likely there will be over forty by the summer!

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    February 16th, 2012FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Lagers

    Deep in a basement bar not far from Bohemia, the cerny pilsners of the brewery up the road changed my perception of lager. Sweet and rich but surprisingly light, they distributed refreshment and nutrition as if feeding me and five thousand other thirsty drinkers.

    Meantime Union shares a similar contradiction. Broody and brown, this is is no pale bodied pushover. Lagered it is, and a tad metallic to boot, coupled with a dark caramel composition and a surprisingly roasted finish suggesting mustard seeds, honey-soaked biscuits and bitter Bourneville.

    Union shares the creaminess of some of the golden pilsners that stole a march onn Vienna style lagers many years ago.

    It’s enigmatic to say the least. Coloured like a bitter, tastes like a bitter, but brisker, bolder, livelier. It’s interesting, ebbing and flowing between it’s different elements, but it’s hard to see how it would fit into my everyday drinking.

    Except for with pizza. Michael Jackson recommended amber beers with pizza and at a basic level this shares many facets – creamy texture, bitterness, effervescent, mouthfilling malt and sweet roasted finish.

    So being under £2, being under 5%, and offering refreshment, intrigue and solace, this is one beer that will be on the shopping list alongside doughballs and garlic bread.

    Meantime Union Vienna Lager

    Caught my eye as I thought it was a football beer!

    Meantime Union Vienna Style Lager dark malt

    A Union of dark malt, pizza and beer. Mmm.

    Vienna style beers have a special place in my heart as I once named a Vienna influenced beer. Thornbridge Equinox was a one off ‘Vienna IPA’, so a little different from the copper coloured lagers of continental Europe, but I only ever got to try one pint of it. I’d love to try it again one day!

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    July 26th, 2011FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Pilsner Lager

    A strong, frothy head, a pale countenance and a ferociously Noble body makes Meantime Pilsner unmistakeably Bavarian.

    Put simply it’s the colour of straw and the embodiment of light, refreshing, authentic lager. It’s so pale you might even miss the barely toasted malt in this one.

    It’s pale, delicate fizz, infused with the scent of stalks and greenery, ensures it’s fresh and natural in body and soul with a congenital bitterness screaming of the vernacular style.

    E.g. it’s hoppy, it’s bitter, it’s Pilsner.

    Served in a 330ml bottle means you don’t get a lot for your money (they’d laugh at a such a measure in both Germany and Czech Republic I’m sure). Sure enough you do get a most elegant and well turned out bottle to show off whilst you drink. If that’s your thing.

    Meantime Pilsner perhaps lacks the subtle lemon balm slap that (according to my taste buds) separates the most interesting, intense variations of this famous style from those more monotonous attempts.

    But let’s be clear – this is no marketing ploy by Meantime to make a simple lager sound more premium, nor is it a poor copycat of the tall, translucent pilsners that changed the world.

    It’s a sophisticated, if slightly subdued celebration of grassy, gassy, sparkling straw-coloured beer.

    Meantime Pilsner

    Meantime Pilsner: perfect for the garden

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    October 22nd, 2010FletchtheMonkeyBeer Reviews, Stout & Porter

    Smoky as hell to smell and like a burnt caramel bar to taste, M&S’s London Porter is a sweet beer to devour with masses of chocolate or marshmallows over a camp fire.

    If you don’t fancy the great outdoors then no worries, the lingering smoky presence hangs around for a long time in your mouth and may invoke daydreams of sitting under the stars and gazing at the heavens.

    It’s packed with malt variety: you can settle for adoring it’s remarkably sweet Cadbury’s flavours, or close your eyes and take in the notes of liquorice, coffee and molasses that may or may not be hiding under the covers of darkness.

    For best results wait for a cold, wet October night when the light recedes before you’ve even left work. Use as a slow burning nightcap, and crack open in place of a steaming mug of fluffy hot chocolate. Nestle deep into the sofa, dip into your gastronomic vice of choice and have a bit of mid-week you-time.

    London Porter brewed by Meantime for M&S

    London Porter brewed by Meantime for M&S

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    December 6th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyBeer Events

    The last few days have been fantastic. Despite a lot of travel kafuffle and too much time spent on my feet, I managed to get to the British Guild of Beer Writers dinner in London. I could write for hours about the adventures I’ve had, a sojourn around London with my camera, beers in the legendary Rake, a day rambling around London pubs with fellow bloggers and a huge and unsuccessful rush from the Pigs Ear beer festival to get home, but I’d be here all day.

    So just a few words on the event we all went down for, and what was a great celebration of beer, food and the writing that so much passion goes into… Read the rest of this entry »

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    August 2nd, 2009Alan WalshBeer Reviews

    The Greenwich Union is the brewery pub of the Meantime Brewery

    Located less than 5 minutes walk away from Cutty Sark Station on the DLR this pub is really easy to get to but is located up a quaint side street. The exterior makes it appear as one of those dark traditional pubs. Opening the door you see a strange collision of modern and traditional as the large, light interior contrasts with the atmosphere projected from the street.

    The Greenwich Union

    We arrived at 3.00pm on a Saturday afternoon and the place was full, we got one of only two or three free tables in the garden and all of the tables inside were occupied. The reason for the full tables soon became apparent as the food being served looked and smelt fantastic. The burgers were massive and were priced at under a tenner.

    The round I bought was two pints of London Pale Ale (reviewed on here), a diet coke and two bags of nuts which came to £8.80 altogether. This is cheap enough in the middle of London I thought.

    The range of beers on tap were as follows…

    Adnams Bitter

    Meantime LPA

    Meantime Kolner

    Meantime Helles

    Meantime Wheat

    Meantime  High Saison

    Meantime London Stout

    Aspall Suffolk Cider

    As well as this they had a wide range of bottled ales and lagers that any respectable ale house would be proud to boast. For anyone who was unable to decide there were free samples offered and the staff were pleasant and approachable and I’m sure that they will have been happy to offer a helping word. In addition to this I note that the menus offered tasting notes on all of the drinks, dedicating 5 pages to beers and only 2 to food!!!

    I certainly recommend this watering hole to anyone in London. Meantime make some cracking beers and they have hit the perfect mix of old and new, traditional and modern, in order to create the perfect environment to drink them in.

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    August 1st, 2009Alan WalshPale Ales

    Meantime Brewery – London Pale Ale, 4.3% abv, on tap from The Greenwich Union

    This is quite a clear pale ale and immedately I could tell that it was well kept which was no surprise given that there was at least one pint on every table. I would imagine that thry fire through hundreds of pints of this a day.

    To be honest I was quite worried about getting back on the ale today given that last night was a bit of a blockbuster but, as I sat in the pub garden taking my furst si, this was certainly no chore. The beer was quite flat, I think more so than the bottled version that I have had before, which give it a smoothness that meant it went down really well.

    In terms of flavour this beer is tangy, with a citrus bitterness that is far from overpowering. This modest flavour, coupled with the smooth texture, make this what I would call a real session ale.

    Landlord....get me another......

    Landlord....get me another......

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    May 4th, 2009FletchtheMonkeyPale Ales

    Real Ale Reviews Score: Beer of the Month, April 2009

    Being a huge IPA/pale ale fan along the lines of East Coast US pale ales, I often find myself disappointed with our own competition here in the UK.

    Meantime have certainly bucked the trend with their London Pale Ale, a fantastic ale that matches any American pale ale for depth of character, whilst being distinctively British on the palette.

    I can inadequately describe this as a best of both worlds (a phrase that doesn’t by any means do this beer justice) for those who love both modern IPAs and also more traditional British ales. And for those who, like me, rarely stray from the extravagant US pale bottles, Meantime’s London Pale Ale has enough character to tempt your tastebuds back across the Atlantic.

    Cynics might call this ‘middle of the road’ but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a pale ale that doesn’t shirk from the challenge that younger, modern breweries are posing to the beer world, but rather embraces both the needs of a 21st century marketplace and the tradition of long established brewing techniques.

    Served cold this is a thoroughly enjoyable beer with the heart of pale ale and the soul of British brewing.

    Meantime London Pale Ale

    Meantime London Pale Ale

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