UNDOUBTEDLY ONE OF the world’s iconic beer cities, London is celebrated as the birthplace of stout/porter and the capital of England’s legendary pub culture. Yet like much of the Anglophone world it endured some lean years before the resurgence of craft beer around the millennium. One of the earliest pioneers of this new era was Meantime Brewing Company, established in 2000 and today situated near the banks of the Thames. Focused on traditional styles brewed with renewed attention to detail, Meantime serves up attractively understated large-format bottles of London-style porter, pale ale, lager, and so forth.
One of their most recognized beers (next to the Porter, what else) must be their green-labeled India Pale Ale. Eschewing the acronym so popular Stateside, Meantime spells out all three words in a small but significant gesture to the style’s 19th-century origins.
Its color is a cloudy honey, appearing unfiltered although without swirling flakes of yeast in the pour. The head is a little tenuous, comprised of fairly large bubbles and not especially sticky, but it does leave reasonable lacing and generates an appealing froth at first. Its aroma is delectable, leaning on the sweetly fruity charms of Golding hops: plenty of nectar, honey, and ripe orange, with floral edges and some gingery spice coming from the Fuggle side. Malts are more understated in the nose, with clean grain and a bit of light toast appearing in supporting roles.
The flavor faithfully reproduces all the leading aromas while also allowing for a clean grain crispness to develop later. Considerably more pronounced than in the aroma, this additional layer is critical to the beer’s second half and elevates the experience from pleasant to fully noteworthy. Though reportedly well-hopped, the beer’s perceived bitterness is not too sharp. Rather it forms an earthy, herbal wedge that presses slowly backwards on the tongue, neither outrunning the core malt flavors nor overwhelming the finish. The body is just under medium and carbonation is poised, which affords the 7.5% ABV a little extra space to make its mark. Still far from harsh, though, Meantime’s India Pale Ale is mature and patient. Full-flavored but poised, and increasingly delicious the more one reflects on it.
Served: 750 ml bottle best before 03.19.2014