(6% English make from bottle) What can I say about the Meantime Brewery, besides they make some amazing beer and they allow me to practice what I preach – as a Greenwich brewer their bottles are widely available at Waitross markets here in the city of Londinium. As per Waitross, they strive to offer a local selection of brews and are seeking to increase the number of beers carried in their shops which come from within 30 miles. As always your purchase is your vote, so make it known you support local brewers where you can.
This exceptional beer is made with Fairtrade Coffee beans as supplied by the London social enterprise Union Roasters. Again, as important as it is to support local companies, when you make your choice in products such as coffee or tea, it is best to support companies which participate in independent labeling schemes such as the Fairtrade Mark in order to ensure that those involved in production are traded with in an ethical fashion. As per their site,
“Fairtrade is a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Its purpose is to create opportunities for producers and workers who have been economically disadvantaged or marginalized by the conventional trading system. If fair access to markets under better trade conditions would help them to overcome barriers to development, they can join Fairtrade. Fairtrade is a tool for development that ensures disadvantaged farmers and workers in developing countries get a better deal through the use of the international FAIRTRADE Mark.”
As for the Union Roaster group, they not only source but also participate with their coffee growing partners, “We travel to coffee growing communities in remote regions around the world, building relationships and investing in sustainable livelihoods and farming practices”.
Meantime’s Coffee Porter was the first beer brewed in the UK to carry the Fairtrade logo, but after a reformulation of the recipe they no longer carry enough Fairtrade coffee as a proportion of the whole to display the label. However, they still use the hand-picked Fairtrade coffee beans despite not carrying the label any longer.
The particular beans used are from Rwanda, and they were purposefully used after tasting beans from around the world. According to an interview with the BBC, The Rwanda beans had the right balance of chocolate and vanilla notes, as compared to the more nutty flavors offered by the Columbian and Brazilian beans researched. Once the desired taste was reached, then it was a matter of ethically sourcing them through a Fairtrade producer within Rwanda with the help of Union Roasters. They settled on the Abuhuzamugambi Bukawa co-operative which produce the Maraba Bourbon beans which yield the perfect complement to the porter malts.
One can see why this beer has won so many awards once you indulge yourself with a bottle: simply delicious and potent at 6% healthily bringing across the taste of two of my favorite things – rich coffee and malts. On the pour it has a slight bubble with a creamy head and deep, dark brown color. A smell of fine morning coffee and roasted malts awaken the nose for the taste to follow: heavy coffee, chocolate, and vanilla notes over the delicious porter taste. Brilliant in strength and taste, this little gem also equals a shot of espresso when drank.
Here is a quick run down of the awards it has received thus far:
- International Beer Challenge 2008 – World’s 50 Best Beers
- Stockholm Beer & Whisky Festival 2008 – Gold Medal
- Australian International Beer Awards 2008 – Porter Packaged – Bronze
- International Beer Challenge October 2007 – World’s Best Stout & Porter up to 6.9%
- International Beer Challenge October 2007 – World’s 50 Best Beers
- World Beer Awards September 2007 – World’s Best Premium Coffee Beer
- World Beer Cup 2006 – Coffee Beer Class – Gold Medal
- World Beer Cup 2008 – Coffee Beer Class – Silver Medal
The most important test is always your own, and for me it passed with flying colors. And at around £1.65 for a 330ml bottle purchased from a co-operative (Waitross) incorporating a London-based social enterprise (Union Roasters) while supporting a local brewer (Meantime), it’s a virtual steal that would make a great addition to any meal, evening, or hell bacon and egg breakfast.