Wednesday 18 February 2009

Meantime IPA and London Porter: The best beers in the supermarket?

I’d walked past the two 750ml Meantime beers with the black bottles, their smart/classy labels and their crowned top for ages without ever buying them. That was until a few weeks ago, which was when I discovered what I’d been missing out on.

They are both proper British beers; famous styles which are seeing a worldwide surge that has seen them morphed into completely new (imperial) beasts. These Meantimers, I imagine, are much more proper, as it were.

The IPA is a punchy 7.5% and hopped with Fuggles and Goldings. It’s a copper/amber colour with a large fluffy head and big bubbles. The nose is candy sugar to begin, moving into apples, marmalade, sharp fruits and spice. It’s big in the mouth with loads of caramel and biscuit malt, then the earthy, spicy hops come through with a tangy and long biting finish. The hops develop throughout the bottle, wrapping around your palate and getting stronger and more citrusy. It’s a flipping good IPA. I served it with fish and it went great, it’s also a brilliant cheese beer, particularly a good strong cheddar.

The London Porter is 6.5% and pours on the ruby shade of dark brown. The nose is sweetly smoky and nutty with some sugar, coffee and dark chocolate. In the mouth it’s all roast grain: chocolate, coffee, toasted nuts, smoke – all of it subtle and smooth. Sweetness comes through at the end after the hops have finished nibbling and there’s some maple syrup, dark fruits and nutty milk chocolate. It’s really drinkable too; I polished off the 750ml bottle in no time at all. I served it with meatballs and spaghetti, which is a fairly challenging match, but it was a stunning pairing: the smoke blended with the sharp-sweet sauce, an earthy-nuttiness came through in the beer which was delicious and the roast sweetness in the beer was perfect with the meat. I was surprised by how well it worked. I’ve been looking for a beer to pair with tomato-based pasta dishes for ages and now it looks like I’ve found it.

I think these are two of the very best beers available in the supermarkets. And £4 for a 750ml bottle is a pretty good deal, if you ask me.

What do you think is the best beer available in the supermarket?


  1. Their IPA seriously kicks ass. Strong cheddar (or Lincolnshire Poacher if you can get it) is a killer match.

  2. I can get a selection of Meantime beers at a few decent bottleshops and bars here in Melbourne. Love the Pilsner (in summer, of course) and the Pale Ale is a worthy contributer to the style. The chocolate porter is a cracker and pairs well with a nice rich mud cake or sticky date pud.

    Prof. Pilsner

  3. Sainsburys - those Fullers beers by a country a mile.

    Asda - Brewdog Punk IPA

    Tesco - Williams Midnight Sun

    Somerfield - Ostravar

    Waitrose - Kipling (not as cracking as on cask, but its still Thornbridge)

  4. Zak - I'll look out for a Lincolnshire Poacher, I've got another bottle of the IPA in the cupboard waiting.

    Prof. - The pilsner is a good summer beer, for sure. I had the chocolate porter ages ago and can't remember it - I'll have to pick up another. I had a Meantime Chocolate on keg the other day, but I'm sure it wasn't the 6.5%er.

    Haddonsman - Loving the detail! I still haven't seen Thornbridge in the Waitrose's down here, I'm willing them down though!

  5. I'd find it hard to top either of those Meantime bottles - both fantastic. Punk IPA is well up there too, of course.

    Mark, if the keg Chocolate you refer to was in the Bull, then yes it was 6.5%! (It's been replaced by London Stout now)

  6. Was it really 6.5%?! Wow, that was not noticed/forgotten between the Jaipur, Handel and St Petersburg!!

    I had the bottle of the stuff ages ago then and the keg more recently, in that case (the keg was okay but nothing too memorable, clearly!). I need to write these things down!!

  7. We've more-or-less given up on the supermarkets near where we live. Our Sainsbury's doesn't stock any Meantime beer -- not even the Taste the Difference stuff. It's infuriating.

    But, yes, these two are fantastic beers. We found that the porter was noticeably more impressive after about a year in the bottle, so worth stashing away, too.

  8. Brewdog Punk IPA, Innis and Gunn's oak aged or Gadd's Dogbolter porter are my current favorites.

    Mark, we sell Lincolnshire Poacher cheese at Macknade, very nice it is too!

  9. Gadd's Dogbolter is a really good porter! One of the the best bottled beers in Kent (up there with Skrimshander IPA from Hopdaemon).

    I was at Macknade stocking up on cheeses last weekend, next time I'm there I'll grab the Lincolnshire Poacher.

  10. The only beer i've been picking up in supermarkets of late is Belhaven's Twisted Thistle IPA, only because I can't resist it. Outstanding. And i will throw my weight behind the votes for Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese, too. Superb.