Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Meantime Kellerbier

It’s unfiltered and unpasteurised, brewed and sold on site and made with local ingredients. That’s a pretty good start. With an aroma like sweet dough, strawberries and vanilla, there’s also a little butter in the best of ways, like a delicate version of butterscotch. The body is silky, glide-over-your-tongue rather than jump-up-and-down on it, before a dry, peppery finish with that ever-so-important hop quench that makes you go back for more. It’s very good. It’s just the sort of beer I’ve been craving since drinking in the Czech Republic. But it’s not a Czech or German recreation using Moravian malt and Saaz hops, this is London Lager, a new appellation Alastair Hook is chasing (the kellerbier is the unfiltered and unpasteurised version of London Lager – a new brew Meantime are producing  and it has the brewing yeast left in which is classic for the style – the ultimate kellerbier, or cellar beer, I’ve had is Pilsner Urquell). London Lager is made from East Anglian malt and Kentish hops and it’s brewed beside the Thames. The kellerbier version is only available in the handsome, copper centre of the Old Brewery, right beside the vessels it’s made in (why would you want to drink it anywhere else?). This is how beer tastes at its natural best; unfiltered, unpasteurised, unbelievably good.

Strangely, though, and in the interest of fairness, one tap serving the beer was excellent but the other was lacking a bit of life and lay flat in the glass (it barely came with a head on it when poured, which was a shame – this sort of beer needs a massively oversized glass and a four-finger head). If it doesn't have a thick, frothing head then watch out!

The image was from Travels with Beer. If you like beer and photos then that’s the place for you.


  1. Well the flatter version was probably truer to what a kellerbier ought to be like. Whatever it was, you certainly won't ever find a Franken one with four fingers of head.

    Maybe it was just good beer, a zwickel maybe, but a kellerbier? Nein.

    You could have discussed it at the styles event - or maybe did.

  2. LPA could be one of my favourite beers, I reckon! The first time I tried it (at the Market Porter, as it happens), it was a revelation.

  3. Sounds great, I need to make another trip over to Greenwich!

    Tandleman: What's the difference between Zwickel and Keller? I thought that (originally) Zwickel was a sample taken from the Keller barrel ... but that these days they were pretty much used to mean the same thing.

  4. It's a bit more complicated than that. As you say originally it was a sample taken from the zwikel or small sampling tap. Nowadays it tends to mean a force carbonated version of keller bier, though even that is confusing and by no means universal.

    But in the good pubs in Franconia, you still get a keller bier that is not force carbonated, its carbonation being natural and served either direct from the barrel or by (sometimes) air pressure.

    The third variant is "ungespundet" which is where in the keller the bung is taken out and the beer thus is a little "flatter". As for cloudiness and head, these are variable too, but believe me, most don't have any kind of lasting head and most though not filtered, are not that turbid either.

    I would say though that an unfiltered and cloudy version of a beer, is, more likely than not, just unfinished bier, not keller bier or any variant. That's what is served in many German brewpubs as "zwickel".

    A good subject this to awaken my inner geek.

  5. Very interesting, thanks for the response.

    You say anything unfiltered and cloudy will most likely be just unfinished beer, not keller bier ... couldn't it be unfinished keller bier? :P

    Also, why then would anyone want to drink Zwickel? I can understand it as a tasting sample to check if the beer is ready or not, but why would you want to drink something that's unfinished?

  6. Mark - It's a question I ask myself every time I walk into a German Brew Pub!!But basically, as I understand it, Germans associate it with being natural and therefore better for you. Brewers would no doubt say it isn't unfinished, but what else is beer that's sold deliberately turbid, which if left a little longer, would drop bright?

    Now this doesn't usually apply to keller bier which isn't, by and large, that cloudy anyway. Well not in my experience and I've drank (a few weeks ago) in some bloody small Franken breweries.

    Worth a chat on Sat if you are there!

  7. This beer is truly fantasic. Responsible for dispelling the myths and really making me sit up and take notice of lager for the first time. Everyone should try it.

    Liking the new look blog btw mate.

  8. Yep, I'll be there on Saturday. You'll have to share your hot tips for places to visit in Germany ... I went last year to Munich and Nurnberg but only found the obvious places to drink in. Thinking about a possible visit to Bamberg in the New Year, the US and Rome are high on the list though too.

  9. Sounds like a nice beer, hopefully the London Lager will be bottled and will join the IPA and Coffee Porter from Meantime sat in my cellar.

  10. Al - I've got a bottle in the fridge at home! It's a new bottle with new branding. I'm looking forward to trying it. They also had a version made with strawberries which was pretty tasty. The IPA is fantastic.

  11. I have heard many a good thing about the IPA, looking forward to doing a tasting with Fullers Bengal Lancer.

  12. I was in Greenwich last week. It was a toss-up whether to visit the Old Brewery or the Greenwich Union. I chose the latter, which was a pleasant enough pub. Sounds as though I missed out though by not choosing the former. Oh well, there's always next time!