July 4th Beer Dinner Dominated by a Couple of Bastards

The Fourth of July is supposed to commemorate a revolution started with a tea party in Boston. I was rather glad that Meantime Brewing decided instead to have a beer dinner in Greenwich. Billed as “American Revolutionary Beer and Food” for 4th of July, we got fireworks in five courses and 11 beers.

Thankfully, the days since an American beer dinner would have been thought of as a culinary endurance test are, like the Boston Tea Party, history. At least when the feast is put together by Meantime Old Brewery chef Jose Lopez and beer expert Glenn Payne. Bastards? No! now that would be inglorious of me. My title comes from the names of two of the beers chosen to accompany two of the courses.

This was a masterclass in beer and food pairing, using different styles of beer to both complement and contrast the courses and to cleanse and titillate the palate. From a light and delicate aperitif to sour and fruity with cheese via, perfumed and bitter, robust and malty with the main event, and various ports of call in between.

Meantime Brewing's 4th of July Beer Dinner: The menu

Meantime Brewing’s 4th of July Beer Dinner: The menu

Take a look at the menu, then follow the link for pictures with tasting notes for each beer and food pair.

Introduction by Glenn Payne, and aperitifs
Glenn isn’t just any old beer connoisseur. He’s been promoting the wonders of American craft beer since the mid-90s. And he’s not even American. Nor is the host, Meantime head brewer, Alastair Hook. Glenn and Alistair spoke, we drank:
Sly Fox Helles, Meantime Yakima Red, Anchor Summer (wheat)

Soup course
New England clam chowder and Cornish white fish
Meantime Cali-Belgique

First “Bastard” course
Meatloaf with prunes, San Francisco sourdough toast and cucumber pickles
Stone Oak-aged Arrogant Bastard

Main “Bastard” course
Smoked baby back ribs marinated in Meantime Wheat beer, with grilled lobster, spicy coleslaw and hand-cut chips
Founders Dirty Bastard, Flying Dog Wilde Man

Dessert
Blueberry cobbler with stawberry ice cream
Alaskan Brewing Company Smoked Porter

Cheesboard with beer chutney
Cheddar, goats cheese, and Stilton
Ommegang Rare Vos Pale Ale, Brooklyn Black Ops, Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red

Now visit the Maltjerry flickr photo set Beer and food fireworks on the 4th of July to find out how it all went. Be sure to click on each photo for a description.

When you’ve digested…

Meantime hold beer dinners regularly. The next is on Thursday 29 August, at The Old Brewery, and features modern British cooking, with oysters, salt beef, and turbot.
Contact through www.oldbrewerygreenwich.com.

Also…
Keep an eye on Meantime Brewing News and Events for dinners and other events.
The White Horse on Parson’s Green, London SW6 is having a beer dinner hosted by the very wonderful Thornbridge Brewery.
See http://www.whitehorsesw6.com/news-events.php.

Many thanks to Meantime for inviting MaltCim and me to dinner!

Meantime Brewing and a new/old London Porter for Burns Night via Bamberg

If pale and extremely hoppy beers have been the belles of the beer ball for last couple of years, perhaps 2013 is the year that malt strikes back. If so, Meantime Brewing have started us off in the right direction with a collaboration beer: a Weyermann Porter. The nature of such limited editions is, by the time you read this, it will all be gone. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Greenwich Union pub tell you so I can tell you what it was like and how good it was with food.

Collaborating breweries, limited edition bottlings and one-off beers are quite the thing these days, on the craft beer scene. But this is one of the more unusual ones with Greenwich’s finest (only?) brewery collaborating with the German speciality maltsters Weyermann to make a London porter with all-German malts, brewed in Germany.

Meantime_collab_london_porter_med

OK, so before the EU gets on my back perhaps “London-style” porter. But yes, Meantime brewer Rod Jones packed his Lederhosen, last Autumn, went to Germany, and to the Bavarian city of Bamberg, to boot. Now things start to make a bit of sense; Bamberg is famous for its Rauchbiers, “smoked beers”, and porter – the second-most mythologised and misunderstood beer style (all porter used to be a bit smoky. Maybe…)

What followed him back from Bavaria, after several months of maturation, (the beer, that is. Rod Jones? same as ever) was a dark, velvety beer with a nod to chocolatey sweetness and a whiff of bonfire smoke. A beer of 8.5% ABV, too. Not that you could tell.

Rod Jones was at pains to point out what the beer didn’t taste of. As well as the absence of alcohol burn, there was an absence of the bitter, roasted and coffee flavours often associated with very dark beers. This, he explained, was down to the art of the maltster, and I would say, the craft of the brewer to showcase the malts: a blend of pale ale malt, two types of caramelised malt, chocolate wheat malt, with the final 5% of the mix coming from Bamberg’s famous beechwood-smoked malt.

Maltjerry bids for an entry into Pseud’s Corner
There were nibbles – substantial ones, sitting tantalisingly on the table as Rod told of standing in the freezing cold as they tasted the newly-matured porter last November, the only one present in Lederhosen, realising he’d been hoodwinked by his hosts. I felt somewhat sheepish, too, as I tucked into the food, but I had to see if this was beer made for food. Food that was getting cold. If that was rude, it was in the cause of research.

Toasted sourdough bread with hummus, deep-fried white fish goujons, thick-cut chips, samples of charcuterie, and…

“I thought it went particularly well with the pork meatloaf en croute”, I said cringing somewhat as I spoke the words.

“Oh, the slices of jumbo sausage roll, you mean?” responded my table companion. Luckily, the Greenwich Union bar was too dimly lit to reveal my blushes. I was right though, it was a very good pairing. Not a usual one for porter, but the smoke gives it an edge and the sweetness balanced by restrained hopping with East Kent Goldings goes with the herby richness of the sausagemeat.

It was no surprise that the rich malt and restrained smokiness of the beer also fitted the charcuterie very well. The light carbonation lifting the fat. Which it also did on the goujons. Porter and seafood is an old combination. This fish wasn’t as overwhelmed as with some porters. The less harshly-roasted dark malts at play, perhaps.

What was surprising was the combination with hummus and sourdough toast. I suspect the slightly burnt edges were picking up the dark malts and smoke again.

Although we can never know what the old-style porters that were all the rage in 19th-century London really tasted like, I doubt they had the refinement of this modern version. They just didn’t have the technical control of today’s maltsters.

Of course, the march of hops will continue in 2013, but this particular malt-forward collaboraton shows another way. I hope more brewers follow.

Meantime Brewing Company: about the Weyermann Porter

The Greenwich Union pub You might be lucky and find some Weyermann Porter, if not there’s Saison de Nuit and of course, the “standard” but also lovely London Porter.

The history of Weyermann speciality malts

Maltjerry’s Advent Calendar: 25 choices from 2012. 4th Dec.

4th December: Meantime Brewing, Friesian Pilsener. 5.2% ABV.
From: England. Type: North German-style Pilsener. Source: Meantime’s new brewery bar

If we pester Meantime hard enough, perhaps this fabulous, grassy/herbal, dry, refreshing Pilsener will become a permanent fixture on the Meantime Brewing card. After all, it happened to their Yakima Red ale.

I tasted this at the official opening tour of Meantime’s new brewery in May. I was even served by head brewer Alistair Hook, himself, who learnt his brewing craft in Germany. His take on the North German style made famous by Jever, was brewed instead of moaning, “They don’t brew them like that any more!”

Meantime_friesian_pilsener_med_crop

I loved this beer. Lip-smackingly full of German and Czech hops, giving such a tangy, rosemary/thyme-like herby quality you can sense the Spring lambs backing off in horror, sensing The Silence. Would have been great too, to accompany the Swedish Midsommar smörgåsbord, with its pickled herrings, eel, cheese…

Please, Mr Hook, do like the Yakima Red ale. Make it a permie, or at least a permanent seasonal.

Meantime Brewing’s beer range

Read my post on Yakima Red Ale