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20 YEARS OF MODERN CRAFT BEER

This year we’re celebrating 20 years of Modern Craft Beer. 20 years since our founder Alastair Hook, emptied the first sacks of malt into the mill at a brewery in South East London. A brewery which would later become known as Meantime.

Alastair’s pioneering story begins with that all important first sip; a taste of Best Bitter he still remembers the flavour of to this day. Whilst the Bitter was an important first milestone, it was a pint of Pale Ale from a cask in a Yorkshire pub that changed the game for Alastair, igniting his passion for beer. The Pale Ale was brewed by Sean Franklin, the first English brewer to import American Cascade, a hop with incredible aromas of grapefruit and lychee.

It’s 1978 and home-brewing is legalised in the USA for the first time since prohibition made it illegal in 1912. A raft of American brewers, sick of bland, boring and tasteless beer start to brew at home. Whilst working in the States at a Summer camp, Alastair stumbles across the first two American Craft Breweries setting up shop (Mendocino and New Albion Brewing) and becomes fascinated by the forward-thinking kegged IPA’s and Pale Ales.

These brewers share respect and admiration for the work of Alastair’s greatest inspiration and personal beer hero, Michael Jackson. A writer and television personality responsible for the definitive beer books of the late 70’s and early 80’s, Michael’s book ‘World Guide to Beer’ becomes a bible for a new wave of brewers challenging traditional beer styles and perceptions.

Meanwhile back home in the UK, the choice for beer drinkers is made up of only three styles; Lager, Stout and Ale. Alastair knew this needed to change for the better, and if anyone was going to make it happen, he was the man for the job.

Fascinated by the modern Craft Beer revolution in the States, Hook’s passion for beer switches from hobby to career. He sits his Dad down with a large whiskey and announces he’s dropping out of a degree in economic and social history, to study brewing at Herriot Watt University in Edinburgh.

After four years at the brewing school, and with a few backpacking trips to Europe and America under his belt, Hook gets to grips with German grammar and heads over to Munich to work as a post-graduate at the prestigious university at Weihenstephan.

EST. 1999

Fast forward to 1999, Hook rounds up a rag tag crew of mates and sets up shop on Penhall Road, just down the road from our current home on Blackwall Lane in Greenwich. After re-mortgaging his own flat and with loans from friends and family, he’s determined to make it a success and change the way people think about beer in the UK.

Our first of many brews, the Union Lager hits the taps in 2000, and London can’t get enough of it. Meantime becomes the name on everyone’s lips and soon enough foodies and beer lovers across the capital are flocking to Alastair’s pub, the Greenwich Union to taste it for themselves.

Over the past two decades, we’ve introduced drinkers to an array of different styles and innovations; from Porters and IPA’s, Saisons and Wheat Beers, to our newest family member, Easytime Lager, an aromatic Pilsner with notes of apricot and peach with a slightly lower ABV. Today we will still brew the highest quality beer at our brewery in Greenwich, packed full of favour that everyone can enjoy. So, let’s raise a glass to 20 years of pioneering Modern Craft Beer.

BORN IN LONDON, BREWED FOR ALL