Chris Hall continues his reviews of porter in the London tradition with Meantime London Porter
Meantime London Porter
Meantime Brewing Co.
One of the things that sets Meantime apart from other medium-to-large craft brewers these days is they seem to make an extra effort to make you feel special. When you get your hands around one of their beers in a shop it’s very hard to put it down again. Their beautiful, champagne-corked, oversized bottles add a sense of grandeur to the occasion of simply ‘opening a beer’. The brewer’s London Porter is no different in this regard.
Ever-so-slightly arrogant labelling and grandiose packaging aside, the liquid itself is majestic. A classic, heady porter black, yes, but tinged not with oak or ruby, but crimson. Naturally, the pillowy clouds of head are tan in colour. The beer only needs to be within a good foot of your nose for its aromas to take hold. Thick, wild, almost-sour hops fused with bitter berries, dark chocolate and a massive, coffee punch. If you’re thinking, ‘like most other porters, then?’ you would be right. But what separates porters is not just the flavour, but their attitude. Porter is not like pale ale, which is typically measured by its hop content. Porter is measured by its methods.
Fuller’s effort is a well-measured, stately and traditional. Kernel’s is masterful, balanced and almost music-like in its gradual build to a crescendo finish. Meantime’s London Porter is a big, ugly, prize fighter, that annihilates its opponents with skill, and most importantly, raw power. From the first bell, this porter is on your gums, throwing belting blows of chocolate, coffee, chocolate, and coffee. The attack is complex, mystifying in its approach. It switches back and forth relentlessly. Acre after acre of pungent, bittering hops follow this onslaught, ending with a finish that somehow is even greater than the sum of its parts.
But there’s more. After the finish, is an aftertaste of rich, bitter, darkest chocolate, which sits on your tongue for literally minutes. Meantime London Porter is a raucous, furious and complex beer, retaining the gravitas of authenticity without compromising in its ferocious and uncompromisingly challenging flavour. Magnificent.