Beer – Foamy

This, my friends, is a sneak preview, courtesy of Rod, of the vintage whisky casks that Meantime have acquired to age the super-strength ale they’ll be brewing at the forthcoming brewery/brasserie at the ORNC. It’s all exciting stuff – even for a non-beer-drinking Phantom – and not quite as far off, time-wise, as I’d assumed.

Just to confirm, it is going to be in the wonky building next door to the Pepys centre (so all those gags about drunk 18C workmen building things on the squiff weren’t a million miles off the mark.)

It is, of course, a World Heritage Site listed-building – which, although that means it’s an even fabber concept than just yer bog-standard microbrewery, also has the flip side that everything takes ages, while the place is properly excavated for archaeological treasure and conserved in manners acceptable to English Heritage. Of course, that’s a good thing – but it does mean that Meantime don’t get to move in until October.

From that point it’s going to take – well – it’s not completely clear but probably a few months to fit-out the place with a microbrewery where punters will be able to chat to the on-site brewer, drink beer brewed as near as dammit to the exact spot the old 1717 brewery was, eat food (I don’t know who’s going to be doing the cooking-side, but I’m assured that it’s not Greenwich Inc) and even, on occasion, visit the cellars where the remains of the old well have just been discovered.

Of course, just because they can’t move in yet, doesn’t follow that Meantime are standing still on this one. As you can see from Rod’s pictures they’ve sourced some wonderful old wooden casks from a distillery in Scotland, and they’re busy brewing the first batches of ale (apparently it needs to be aged for, like, ever, to get the best flavour, so the very first pints pulled won’t physically be able to be brewed on site, unless we don’t mind a couple of years delay in opening…)

There isn’t just going to be one kind of beer brewed at the ORNC. There will be all sorts – including some pretty deadly-sounding extra-long aged stuff, some more easily quaffed brews (though according to Rod that’s still longer than most brewers bother to age it) and some other, edgier, things such as what the newsletter coyly refers to as “experimental” beer. The mind boggles – just what does that mean? Are they going to try turning – oh – I don’t know – bicycle inner tubes – into alcohol or something? Maybe they could have a go at Greenwich Lambic Beer. Now that would be ‘experimental,’ given the microbes in the air round here….

Ah. I see – reading on, it’s “a programme of rediscovering historic brews and attempting to understand long lost brewing techniques from the days when London was the undisputed brewing capital of the world.” Yeah, okay – I’ll buy that. Experimental archaeology in the true spirit of the word…

Something else I notice in the newsletter – there will be a brand new Union Beer Club where (presumably for a not inconsiderate fee) “a select number of aficionados can guarantee a regular delivery of individually numbered bottles of the strictly limited quantities of beer that will be the output of the Naval College Brewery.”

So. It’s not all doom and gloom for Greenwich Town Centre, guys. I’m hoping Rod can supply us with some sneaky shots of the brewery itself soon, too, but in the meanwhile, here’s another peek at those barrels…

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